Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Clincal Chase by Solid England

England’s victory at Old Trafford in the second test is highly commendable considering the position they found themselves in during the middle of the third day. Although I was unable to witness Monty Panesar’s spell, the nature of the run chase on the fourth day showcased the supreme ability possessed by this English team. Andrew Strauss in particular was magnificent as he demonstrated great powers of concentration and discipline in compiling a neat century to lead England’s pursuit of 294. During the early parts of his knock of 106, apart from a couple of glides to the third man boundary, Strauss was quite content to leave deliveries bowled outside the line of his off stump. Anything on his pads though was severely dealt with as Strauss continued his come back from the terrible loss of form that saw him dropped from the team for most parts of last year. Skipper Vaughan on the back of a century at Lords continued to strike the ball beautifully before departing caught behind on 48 courtesy a lazy drive away from his body. But whilst he was in the middle, he played some of his trademark elegant cuts and drives and shared a marvelous partnership with Strauss which laid the platform for England’s success. Vaughan’s departure saw the arrival of Kevin Pietersen who showed some of his best form before being run-out on 42. The unconfident Collingwood and the classy yet circumspect Ian Bell finished the job for England who have now taken a 1-0 series lead going into the final test at Trent Bridge.

On paper England seems to possess an admirably balanced team which could well challenge the Aussies next summer for the famous Ashes urn. The real test prior to the Ashes though will come against the Proteas who play a four match series in England commencing in July. Michael Vaughan needs to ensure that his team maintains good discipline and are continually committed to excellence. The selectors also have a key role to perform in order to ensure that the nucleus of the team is maintained. Unless a player is capable of adding genuine class to the team such as Andrew Flintoff, the present set up must be retained as far as possible. Mark Ramprakash although 38 now, is another player of supreme talent and ability whose performances for Surrey in the county championships over the last couple of seasons shows that he still has it in him to succeed at the international level. He has been treated harshly by the selectors in the past and I firmly believe he deserves a second chance.

The bowling attack much like the batting line-up wears a solid look to it and Ryan Sidebottom has been nothing short of a revelation since his return to the English set up. James Anderson has been similarly impressive with his ability to produce late swing that caused many batsmen problems during the 2003 World Cup. The stand-out performer though has been Monty Panesar who has raced to 100 wickets in test matches as England finally seems to have unearthed a spinner of international repute. With the imminent return of Matthew Hoggard the bowling attack certainly looks more than formidable on paper. Although there is a long time to go, the look of the present English team suggests that a fantastic contest can be expected when the two arch-rivals meet next summer in a quest to win the Ashes.


Rahul Saha said...

England have been pretty decent at home but I think the Aussies will clinch it nonetheless.

A Couch-side View said...

There is no doubt that the Aussies are favourites, but I think this English team can put up a fight.

Sroyon said...

How come there's still nothing on the Champions League?

A Couch-side View said...

Coming soon.