Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ashes 4.4: How Good Are England?

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England: 2 Australia 1

There's probably two answers to this. The English answer

and then the real answer

I am afraid, the two answers may be the same.

England look very very good. Ever since the Adelaide win. Ricky Ponting is in the ultimate state of denial when he talked about "momentum swings". He needs to be in the next season of HBO's "In Treatment".

In the real world; not inhabited by Ponting; this seems like the most lopsided 2-1 lead ever.

Of the 3 best sides in the world at the moment;

India have a game changer of an opening batsman. They lack a solid lower middle order batsman and a world class spinner.

South Africa have the best middle order batting and the best opening bowling pair. They too lack a world class spinner.

And England have Kevin Pietersen, and an all weather bowling attack. They seem to have a distaste for the numbers game.

Depending on what happens in Durban today, India may have to be struck off the list.

This will leave everyone join the English press and fans to call for a world championship bout; home and away between England and South Africa.

And no matter what the ICC rankings say, India will have to be content with being the best bullies at home. Not a bad thing of course. But it's the truth. And for all Indians it will hurt. Till we beat England in England again.

Related Posts...

  1. Ashes 2.5: This Changes Everything
  2. Ashes 3.4: This Doesn't Change Anything
  3. Season Finale


Vidooshak said...

Gol - India beat England in England in 2007. India played with KD Kartik and Jaffer and still won. When England visited India, who can forget the classic. So I think India still owns the crown here. Sure next June, England may beat India at home, but why is that any different than India being bullies at home. Plus, most Indian batsmen will be wearing dentures by then. Beating a team of old farts or young rookies shouldn't count. Aren't Australia, England, SA, Pakistan and SL bullies at home too when they play against India? So please quit whining.

Golandaaz said...

because the 2007 does not count in the current rankings. they need to beat england this time around to get the undisputed tag associated with their #1

Vidooshak said...

In my book, they are undisputed at this moment. They beat South Africa today and in a battle for 1 and 2, India has levelled a series. Even if SA wins in Cape Town, its home advantage..blah..blah. England have beat a really weak Aussie team that India thrashed (in India) a few months ago. So how about arguing that England really need to beat India in India to be contenders. Otherwise, India is number one and I think it's undisputed.

Anonymous said...

1st time visitor. Interesting blog...some provocative opinions! :)

IMO, India are deservedly No. 1 at present...a fighting No. 1, if not a dominant No. 1. And it is for the contenders like SA and England to prove they are more worthy.

Remember that India have held SA to 1-1 in India and are currently 1-1 in SA. Further, in each SA win India were very significantly injury-affected -- Badri and Saha were at 5 & 6 at Nagpur, and then no Zaheer in Centurion...and no practice game! And in both series, India have shown FANTASTIC CHARACTER to bounce back...and that too after losing important tosses -- at Kolkata as well as Durban.

As for England...you can only do relative rating based on what's happened...not by speculating about future series. As of now, India have 1-0 series wins both at home and away.

And note that England lost their last home series to SA...and didn't win in SA either...they drew 1-1, but SA dominated most of the games (& were within 2 wkts of winning 3-1).

Finally, don't forget India in the last 4 years have won Tests on pace / seam friendly decks of Perth, Jo'burg, Durban and Nottingham! Whereas England have been HAMMERED at Jamaica, Jo'burg and Perth.

So to me, India feathers the top slot from SA, with England not far behind. (Although SA and Eng have younger squads, and may surpass India 1 or 2 years from now)

- BP

Mahek said...

Gol, India don't necessarily have to beat England to be the undisputed #1, unless you mean #1 in the eyes of cricket experts, in which case it's very subjective & I'd venture to say there would be naysayers even if we beat England in England.

Before this series I felt South Africa were better, but after two tests I don't feel so bullish about them. Their record against sides other than India is not as good as India's has been against those sides. Coming to the head to head record, it's 2-2 over the recentmost series despite India losing all 4 tosses (And make no mistake, each of those tosses gave South Africa an edge). If we beat South Africa at Cape Town I'd say we're the best side in the world without a doubt. England can't stake claim to anything if they're ranked third and are a good 10+ points behind the #1.

jhantu said...

india "doesnt have good lower middle order batsman"!!!

i guess vvs laxman is a school grade batsman compared to sir ian bell

Mahek said...

Jhantu, Laxman is a middle order batsman. I think Gol is talking about numbers 6 & 7, maybe even 8. Also, Bell bats at 6 while Laxman bats at 5.

Golandaaz said...


I think its is generally accepted that when it comes to the ICC rankings and the way series wins are scored, India is #1. There is also a general acceptance that India and SL have benefited from favorable schedules.

When I say undisputed its more about truly being the best team in the world. For that I think India needs to beat SA, SL and Australia (series wins - not just Test Matches)

When I go gaga over Engand its purely based on potential. England are attractive to watch (compared to their past teams), have some solif talent and I feel they are slightly better than India and SA on current for. However they need to comvert that promise to series wins, I admit

Golandaaz said...


Thanks for sharing your comments. And I hope you will find this blog worth visiting....

I am not disputing what you say. Yes its for SA and Eng to dethrone India.

What I am saying is this. India's #1 ranking accounts for performances in the past 3 or so years. On that basis we are the best. However, I believe England appear stronger than India at the moment and if they do not get drunk over this Ashes win they "may" be #1 soon

Also the ICC rankings is about series wins not test wins. A Series win is like an additional test win. One more reason India is ahead of SA in the rankigs. SA have won more tests but india have more series.

Golandaaz said...


Yes, I do mean #1 as in the best team in the worls not just the ranking.

I think SA have been surprisingly meek at home.

I agree, if we beat SA in Cape town a ot of the talk of India not deserving to be #1 will evaporate.

I was glad to read Strauss call out their goal to beat India and be the new #1. It makes the 2011 summer the mouth watering prospect.

Golandaaz said...


As Mahek eluded to...I don't think we have really found a replacement to Saurav Ganguly - the batsman.

Also we don't have a reliable all rounder.

That makes are lower order battng vulnerable to collapses.

knowledge_eater said...

I am not sure our lower order batsman are collapsing, if we add resistant performances from our tail-enders. Pujara bats at 6, Dhoni bats at 7. Then comes tail-enders who have done decent far often than we have predicted. I think our middle order have collapsed far often recently than tail-enders order jokes lol. But, yes, having all-rounder can be really plus point.

Main problem I see is with our consistency of bowlers other than Zak. If we start performing (and keep playing on pitches like KM), bowlers other than Zak cam get lot of confidence for sure.

Vidooshak said...

Gol - Our lower order (if Harbhajan is included) has scored centuries in the last several games. Raina, Dhoni and Harbhajan have come to the party. Ishant did too. I think you are trying not to be elated about India's resilience. Granted they are not a dominant side in the mold of Australia or West Indies of yore. India will never string 11 wins or 16 wins on the trot. But that doesn't make India the "disputed" #1. I'm not sure why the crown should pass to England if they beat India on home turf. Let England beat India in India and take the crown. The crown passed from Windies to Aus after Aus topped them in Windies. The Ashes are passing to England after they beat Aus in Aus (not beaten yet. One more test to go). I still maintain that Australia is a second-rate side now and India will beat Aus in Aus as badly as England is doing if they played them now. I'm not as high on England as you are. I've been watching the games too and Aus have thrown wickets away.

Vidooshak said...

Sorry I didn't mean Ashes are "passing" to England (even though I wrote that). I really mean England is being recognized as such because of winning in Australia.

Anonymous said...

Golandaaz...you're being a little too demanding! :)

In one reply you say India have won tests abroad but not series in SA and Aus...so their #1 rank is disputable. And then in another reply you say SA have won more Tests than India, but India have more series wins and so are (undeservedly) benefiting on the points table! C'mon man...you can't have it both ways! :)

Now I agree England are looking good...but like Vidooshak I believe Australia's miserable performances are making England appear much better than they perhaps are.

I mean against SA in early 2010, this same England team looked inferior...and with 2 more wkts, SA would have won 3-1, instead of drawing 1-1. Credit to the gritty English tail...but surely that series showed that SA are better than England. And deserving of a higher ranking.

Also remember that India have beaten Australia 2-0 2 times in the last 2 years...while the English won narrowly by 2-1 at home. And India also have a +ve record vs SL...2-0 at home last year and 1-1 away this year.

England have to be this impressive against India, SA or SL...and not just an out-of-form and confused Australia. And as you noted, Strauss too recognizes that fact.


Golandaaz said...


I am not saying the crown "should" pass to England. What I am saying is that England look the best of the the trio Eng, SA and India. And I agree that's just an opinion. If you don't agree go and refine your thoughts :-)

Of course they dont have the ranking points and may be they never will (if they disintegrate like they did after the 2005 Ashes)

As for the lower middle order, I agree I am being a bit harsh but I think we are taking too long to make that slot stable. To our advantage Bell and Prince are not exactly VVS and Ganguly, so I guess we aren't losing much competetively

Golandaaz said...


I don't think I am being demanding. First let me state what is non-debateable

India are the #1 side in the world. India have not beaten SA, Aus and SL at home....EVER



Also to be #1 all you need is to score more points as per the ICC ranking formula.

But if India never graduate from wining tests overseas to winning series; that #1 ranking will have to depend on favorable 3 year schedules for us to retain our #1 ranking

My comment on winning series v winning tests was sort of eductional. It is a fact that SA have won more tests than India but have won lesser series than India. People often use that to question the ranking formula. What many don't realize is that the ICC ranking is about winning series' and not just tests.

Mahek said...

Gol, India have beaten Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka once. If you look at it, England haven't won a series in either India or Australia since the 1980s. Now why should the fact that we were rubbish until recently come in the way of this side being the best in the world? It has zero relation to the sides that were ritually slaughtered in all conditions.

Golandaaz said...


What I am talking about is the next level of graduation for India

Anonymous said...

GD, (gol doesn't quite sound all right)

can we take a breather and enjoy the wonderful victory in the 2nd test? or are you too perplexed with the final outcome? :-)

india's bowling on day 4 was exceptional. dhoni's not-too-aggressive field setting was brilliant. (especially since it worked!)

sreesanth's ball that took out Kallis was obviously (apologies to Siddle) the high-light of the day. ZK was very good, and HS was good. Even Ishant bowled relatively ok.

The SA batsman and commentators looked very nervous through-out the day. The way Robin Jackman kept harping on UDRS (& why not) made him the cry-baby for the day.

- Anon

PS: If one can review a wicket-taking ball to check for no-ball (as the umpire did in the case of the Kallis dismissal), they ouught to have done similarly for Morkel's wicket of a no-ball. (which was not a no-ball).

Golandaaz said...


Dhoni's comment "the greener the better" was awesome.

I had the same thoughts on the Morel no ball dismissal. I think line calls like no-balls should be simply automated.

Anonymous said...


I'm in complete agreement with you (as must be all Indian supporters) that India need to win Test series in Aus, SA and Eng to earn even greater respect for Indian cricket.

But what irritates me about many overseas fans...and I detected small traces of this in your opinion piece...is that India are simply home bullies, and can't win or even compete overseas! To me, that is unfair and ignorant in respect of this Indian team.

Why hold the past misery of Indian teams as evidence to belittle this bunch? People forget that this CURRENT bunch has been highly competitive in SA, Australia, SL, Eng and NZ (in fact, victorious over the last 2). And just how many teams have beaten Aus at Perth (not Eng, not SL) or SA at Joburg (not Eng, not SL) & Durban (not SL)?

So sure...Test series wins abroad will remain coveted. But if one fails to acknowledge that this Indian team is high class (if not completely dominant) no matter what the conditions, one is being terribly unfair!

And yes, I too loved Dhoni's comment! And one can proudly say that it's not empty bravado! :)

PS: And as Mahek said...we have won a series in SL in the past. And I still say the last series in Aus was tied 1-1-1...the last 1 to Bucknor! :)

Golandaaz said...

Anon, I have simply upgraded my expectations from India. Earlier I used to be content with test wins overseas now

I very much hope for series wins now. Even for the rankings they count as an extra test win