Revolution or Reinvigoration? The England Test Side Going Forward
Thanks to their loss against Sri Lanka in Leeds this week, England have now had their worst run of Test matches without a win – eight to be specific – since they managed the same over a period covering the second half of 1996 and early 1997.
In that time, they recorded draws against India, Zimbabwe and New Zealand, and lost against Pakistan. When they eventually brought the streak to an end, winning away against New Zealand, they were languishing in 8th place in what was then the Wisden World Championship Table.
England Then and Now
There are certainly similarities between then and now, not least difficulties with an underperforming captain, and generally uninspiring cricket, though it is perhaps more surprising now. The general consensus is that the players (or at least the squad as a whole) of 2014 are better than their nineties counterparts, but that is little comfort to the England fans who’ve seen their team perform in a consistently average fashion over the previous months.
Throughout the poor run of ’96-’97, only four players were present consistently, and with parallels being drawn between now and then, its little wonder that pundits and fans alike are wondering where next for England. Who needs to be in the squad, and who needs to be axed?
In truth, England possess perhaps a handful of players that you might be able to argue are world class, which leaves numerous positions uncertain, to be filled by a selection of youngsters with decent prospects, and other less obvious players. As with the troubles in the mid-90s, there are few absolute certainties; it’s likely that only Jimmy Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior are automatic selections.
Some of course are clamouring for dramatic changes that could even see these five lose their place, with Alastair Cook under particular pressure from the English press. The captain is somewhat of a scapegoat, and the Australians would love to see another casualty from the Ashes.
Fortunately, there are bright prospects. Gary Ballance, Joe Root and Moeen Ali all performed well at Headingley, with Ali getting a determined century, having been, according to Talent Cricket, somewhat of a controversial selection a few months back. They’re all likely to find themselves in the squad for next month’s Indian tour.
The future looks reasonable for the English team; they do have their problems, but a slight shuffle of new talent and an improvement in form should see them to better days.