Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scoring Heavily Paying off for England

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scoring Heavily Paying off for England

Article excerpt


WITH or without a victory in Nottingham, the numbers are starting to stack up nicely for Nasser Hussain's England.

They returned to Trent Bridge today trying to make it four Test wins in a row - a sequence last achieved in 1992 - after twice defeating Sri Lanka and then starting this summer's second npower series with a 170-run success over India at Lord's a fortnight ago.

But the most impressive figures are those already posted by their batsmen.

Three years ago, England couldn't manage to muster even 200 runs for ten wickets.

In five consecutive Tests against New Zealand at home and South Africa away, their pitiful first-innings totals read: 126, 186, 199, 153 and 122.

No wonder, then, Hussain's men were officially rated as the worst in the world - or that incoming coach Duncan Fletcher decided that building decent scores was the most important task to tackle.

Now, with captain Hussain, Mark Butcher, Alec Stewart and Michael Vaughan still around from the top order that faced South Africa in 1999, England know commanding totals are within their range on good pitches.

Sri Lanka and India may not have the most potent attacks imaginable, but to reel off consecutive first-innings scores this summer of 545, 512, 487 and, at Trent Bridge, 617 is an impressive achievement - and one that won't have gone unnoticed by Australia with the start of another Ashes series now only three months away.

You are not going to lose many Tests after putting even 400 on the board.

Making 500 or more places huge pressure on the opposition - pressure which Sri Lanka, at Edgbaston and Old Trafford, and India at Lord's, could not withstand.

Sights, both individually and collectively, have been raised.

Speaking just before the start of the international season, Vaughan said: "I'm a top-order batsman, so it's my job to make big scores. …

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