Why all is not lost for England Test match cricketErik Schmidt |
England recent disappointments in India will take some time to overcome, but there’s real hope that the team will be able to shake off the losing results to face a full summer of great cricket.
Much of the disappointment was levelled at some truly shocking batting performances. While the state of the Indian pitches has taken much of the blame for this, there was a growing sense that a full-scale investigation had to take place to see why England’s batting had slipped so much. From the lack of quality in the openers to some interesting team selection decisions, it’s clear that England will need to learn from their mistakes in India.
But if you check out these cricket betting sites here, you’ll see that most bookmakers have England down to be capable of overcoming the setbacks with a series of winning performances this summer. So what is it about England that these bookmakers are seeing that could lead to a real return to form?
A revival in English batting
It’s hard to overemphasise just how bad the Indian cricket pitch conditions were. While England were skittled out for less than 200 in both of their innings in the third Test, the fact that India could only make a reply of 145 all out in their first innings showed just how tough the batting conditions were.
As such, it’s no surprise that many people think that the batting collapses in India were just a temporary blip and that normal service will resume this summer. There were certainly some decent performances from some of England’s most cherished batsmen in India. Ben Stokes pulled off 82 in the first Test along with a hard fought 55 in the final Test, and there was obviously Joe Root’s stunning 218 that gave England that highly unlikely win in the first Test Match.
But it was Dan Lawrence who could be the most exciting English batsman from the recent results. In the final Test he produced two solid innings to produce scores of 46 and 50. Such scores might not sound hugely impressive by themselves, but it’s important to note what conditions he was facing.
The biggest question is what to do about England’s openers. Although Zak Crawley managed to scrape together 53 runs in that wretched third Test, the opening pairing of Crawley and Dom Sibley was largely disastrous for the entire Test series. If England can figure out the answer to this question, they should be able to produce a much tougher challenge this summer.
Looking for a change in fortunes for English bowlers
It’s fair to say that the Indian trip was an interesting Test series for England’s bowlers. Any Test match innings that gives Joe Root the bowling figures of five wickets for eight runs shows that these weren’t ordinary playing conditions.
Once again, Jimmy Anderson was in commanding form in the Indian Test series with seven wickets picked up in the first match. Plus Jack Leach found that the pitch conditions well-suited to his kind of spin bowling.
However, there are still questions about how England bowled in the final Test. For a while it looked like Ben Stokes was being made to bowl despite being exhausted, and Dom Bess was having to bowl despite suffering a real lack in confidence.
Ultimately, it was simply a strange Test series that England weren’t adequately set up for. While it produced wonders for India’s spin bowlers like Axar Patel, England simply didn’t have the depth in spin bowling necessary to succeed.
Summer 2021 to be a key moment for English cricket
While England suffered a nightmare in India, this summer promises to be a very different proposition. This is because England will face New Zealand in a two-Test series at Lords and Edgbaston. It will be a welcome return to more familiar conditions that will offer a definite benefit to England’s seam bowlers.
Not that New Zealand are going to be a complete pushover. The team are currently second in the ICC Test rankings behind India, and any team boasting the likes of Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls in the batting line-up is going to take some beating. Plus it’s going to be interesting to see how the England batsmen fare against tough New Zealand bowlers such as Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.
But the action doesn’t stop there. Following some limited overs matches against the likes of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, England will once again face India. This promises to be a fascinating five-Test series on home soil that will give England the chance to try and redress the balance.
Much of England’s fortunes will rely on how they handle certain players. Many people felt that Moeen Ali was atrociously handled in how he left the squad midway through the series. Plus there are still questions over how Jofra Archer will integrate into the England bowling attack.
Above all, the Test series against India promises to be a challenge for an England team that are still going through a fairly transitory phase. While Jimmy Anderson has claimed that he’ll keep playing past the Ashes of 2021/22, it’s clear that England won’t be able to rely on such formidable talents for too much longer. All of which sets up this summer’s Test series against India to be a fascinating encounter.