Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Series Whitewash Would Do Tests More Harm Than Good

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Series Whitewash Would Do Tests More Harm Than Good

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

AFTER the many tonguelashings the English Test cricket team have taken over the past year and more, it would be pretty churlish to start discussing their current form by way of a complaint. So, let's get the praise in early.

England are 2-0 up in their series against India because they have played the opposition off the park.

They have picked the right teams and those teams have played with skill and increasing discipline.

Their bowlers have made the most of conditions, particularly at Lord's, where it was as if they had ordered up the weather from God himself.

James Anderson looks like he could play for ever. Chris Woakes has shown himself every bit an able deputy for Ben Stokes. Their batsmen have succeeded as a unit, even where individuals have faltered.

Ed Smith and the new national selection panel have been bold and forthright in blooding youth -- and just as Dom Bess looked the part when he appeared earlier this summer, so the middle-order batsman Ollie Pope and bowling all-rounder Sam Curran have given exciting hints of England's future.

If you asked an alien which of India and England was ranked the best Test side on earth by a nautical mile and which was ranked a precarious fifth, the alien would have pointed without hesitation to Joe Root and company as the worldbeaters, not Virat Kohli (right) and his ragged band.

So, England no longer look like the team that only recently emerged from a run of eight Test matches without a win.

In fact, there is heady talk of them keeping the steamroller in gear, trundling over India to seal the series at Trent Bridge next and pressing on for a whitewash at the Ageas Bowl and The Oval. A 5-0 win over India would put England back on the map, right? Well, maybe. But it would also underline the problems that all of Test cricket faces at present: the fact that, increasingly, teams are not so much disadvantaged but cut off at the knees by foreign conditions; that obdurate red-ball batsmanship is a dying art; and that international tours are being arranged with so little time for acclimatisation that travelling teams have often lost the series before they have even shaken off their jet lag. …

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