English test cricket is, once again, the best in the world as their comprehensive victory over India, the previous incumbent, secured their place at the top of the table.
While it is largely accepted that the Indian reign was not as indubitable as previous holders of the ICC Test Mace, few expected a whitewash in the 2011 Indian tour. This was the first over India since 1974.
Over the 4 match series England won by an overall total of 2 innings and 765 runs, a phenomenal feat and one marked by a number of exceptional performances particularly from Stuart Broad, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen.
…resisted the English tendency to collapse…
The English team showed few weak points. Andrew Strauss’ side wielded one of the tallest bowling line-ups in cricket history and a batting order that resisted the English tendency to collapse. Over the series ever player put in a momentous performance, a clear sign of a healthy team that does not rely on star players.
It was a display that can be likened to Steve Waugh’s Australian side of 2004; they were solid and had none of the weak links that have caused fans of English cricket to watch with a queasy sense of foreboding.
..Both are old guns…
India were comparatively lacklustre with weak fielding, soft bowling and displays of batting that left a lot to be desired. It was so unexceptional that only two players, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan, made it into the ICC Test Team of the Year. Both are old guns.
Even the final day of the final test which was set up for an exciting finale fizzled out when Tendulkar and Mishra’s partnership was broken. It turned out that this pair was protecting a middle-order and tail that lacked anything. The last 7 wickets were dispatched for 21 runs with Graeme Swann taking 4 of them for just 7 runs.
…the edge-of-the-seat battle…
The series was interesting, rather than exciting, it had controversies but was not the edge-of-the-seat battle that English cricket has provided over the last few years.
It can be analogised by Tendulkar being dismissed for 91, just short of his hundredth test century or Alastair Cook being caught on 294. They were great performances but didn’t quite make it to landmark totals.
The series was good but India never showed sufficiently to make England’s crowning as spectacular as their play deserved.
Images courtesy of Stuart Broad and Zaheer Khan