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Posted on | August 26, 2011 | 2 Comments
From Ian Bell’s epic innings to Stuart Broad’s bowling heroics, Geoffrey Boycott looks at the highs of England’s Test cricket summer and what the future holds.
Best batsman: Ian Bell
Bell’s batting has been sensational. He has scored three hundreds and a brilliant 235 at the Oval. He is the best player in the team because his technique is good, his footwork and timing are exceptional.
Everything about his batting is pleasing on the eye. Here is a guy that had it all a few years ago but frustrated us because he did not go on and make the big scores that control the match.
Now he is batting out of his skin and all he has to do is continue in the same vein as long as he can. He is just a joy to watch.
Best bowler: Stuart Broad
I am pleased for Broad’s success against India because he has shown every cricketer that from the depth of despair you can get to the top very quickly if you work hard and listen to people who know more about it than you.
His bowling against Sri Lanka was appalling. All he kept trying to do was bowl as fast as he could, knock batsmen’s heads off with short stuff and consequently he was all over the place.
He was no use to himself or the team. But by pitching the ball up, bowling a full length in that corridor of uncertainty around off stump and with good pace from a tall, high action he has caused huge problems for the Indian batsmen.
It is obvious to anyone that this is his forte and his best way of bowling. No more should we see him trying to be the enforcer with short stuff. Just use the odd bouncer as a surprise and to force batsmen on to the back foot.
Batters making hay
So many of our batsmen made big scores: Alastair Cook (106 and 294), Jonathan Trott (203), Kevin Pietersen (202 and 175), Eoin Morgan (104), Bell (103, 119, 159 and 235) and Prior (126 and 103).
That kind of batting puts the opposition under scoreboard pressure. I have always said little cameos, no matter how pleasing on the eye, do not win Test matches.
When your batsmen play big innings it gives your bowlers plenty of rest. The bowlers then go out with confidence having big totals to defend.
Lower order strength
Prior, Broad and Tim Bresnan have the ability with their attacking strokeplay to change the momentum of a game.
At Lord’s against Sri Lanka Prior’s 126 and Broad’s 54 changed the whole match around in England’s favour.
At Trent Bridge England were 124 for eight when Broad came in and made 64 which gave us a decent total on a pitch that helped the bowlers. It lifted the crowd. In the second innings Broad made 44 and Bresnan 90.
Great fast bowling
In favourable seam and swing conditions we fancy our chances against anyone. They really believe they can bowl sides out. When you have such ability with confidence and conviction it is a winning combination.
There is no doubt Jimmy Anderson is the king of swing. He is the leader of the pack even when he doesn’t make match-winning performances. Anderson has the ability to lift himself to get a wicket when needed.
He occasionally bowls balls so good he could get anyone out at anytime.
Strauss is a highly successful leader of a winning team but his batting has been poor this summer. He made a total of 256 runs from 10 completed innings.
He is a better player than that. It will play on his mind this lack of personal success because he will not play international cricket for four and a half months until England play Pakistan in Dubai in mid-January.
Strauss needs to think how he can lift his confidence and get some runs by his name. He needs some batting in good quality cricket before that Test series begins in January.
Nobody can be critical of the England team and set up when they are winning so well.
We are proud of the way they have played and delighted with their success but if I had to make a constructive comment, definitely not a criticism, they do have an inflexibility or a structure in place for everything with no room for change.
For example why did they send a nightwatchman in like Anderson at the Oval with England 447-3 in the first innings. We had Morgan, Bopara, Prior, Bresnan and Broad still to bat.
Anyone of them should have been running down the steps shoving the nightwatchman out of the way to get to bat on that very flat pitch against such a moderate bowling attack.
They are also so committed to four bowlers with no room for change. The Oval was the perfect time to try five bowlers and include a second spinner. We were 3-0 up in the series and couldn’t lose our number one status even if we were beaten by India.
The number six batsman, which happened to be Ravi Bopara, was superfluous and a left-arm spinner like Monty Panesar would almost certainly have helped us bowl out India quicker and cheaper still.
South Africa letdown
It is disappointing that next year when we tackle South Africa, who have a deep pool of talent, we are only playing them in a three Test match series when really a five match contest series would capture the imagination of the public.
In three Tests one team only needs a bit of luck and they can win the series. Instead we have Australia here for five one-day international.
If we keep on playing Australia we are going to over egg the pudding and the Ashes will lose its magic.
Article reproduced with kind permission from the Daily Telegraph