Can England remain at number 1?

September 5, 2011

by Paddy Briggs

After a dramatic summer of Test cricket, England have found themselves top of the tree looking down at every nation they have feared for so long.

Now that England have leap-frogged India to number 1, the burning question is: can England remain in this position for years to come? And will they dominate like the great West Indian and Australian teams in recent times? The West Indian team of the 70’s and 80’s and the Australian team for the late 90’s and early 2000’s were the best two cricket sides to have ever lived.

It’s hard to see how England could possibly match these two sides at their best. However, what I can foresee, is England to dominate Test cricket in their own way in the next five years, and remain as the best current team of their era. South Africa are now England’s closest rivals to the helm, but looking at both sides on paper, and also what each side has in reserve, you would have to say that England will be too strong for South Africa, especially as England have a home series against them round the corner.

What is really great to see from an English perspective, is the gulf in class between England and our friends down under. Although Australia beat Sri Lanka recently in Galle we have formed a gap so great, that it is so unlikely to even consider Australia regaining the Ashes next time they are here in 2013. Australia are currently playing spinners that wouldn’t get many wickets if they played in the Surrey championship.

For every position required, England has strength in depth. No more so than in the seam bowling department. Tim Bresnan has been in outstanding form for England this summer but there is no way he would have even featured had Chris Tremlett not had a back injury. The future looks bright, with the likes of Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach not even close to selection at present. If England wanted a safety net, and someone that wouldn’t let you down, Graham Onions is yet again chomping at the bit, and bowling well for Durham as they push for division one honours again.

There are also several exciting young batsmen that are spreading their wings in county cricket, and Matthew Prior will be more then aware that his gloves are something that 4 or 5 players are in a hunt for. This level of competition is as healthy as any masterminded team talk that Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower could ever come up with. Quite simply these England players are now under pressure to perform at their best in order to remain in this great team. It is bringing the best out of players such as Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen, who have had superb summers after the spotlight was well and truly on them before the start of the series with India.

Strauss and Flower are the brains behind the whole operation. The drive and passion for the game combined with their careful planning and calmness under pressure have seen England take themselves from a good side to a very good side.

There will be challenges that wait around the corner from sides desperate to knock England off their perch, but do not be surprised if England have all the answers to any of these challenges. They will go on to win many more series under Flower and Strauss, and I believe they will do so in some style.

The Scoop 05/09/2011

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