“Are you Australia in disguise?” came the chant from the crowd. That’s what I am reliably informed. Apparently this was not a reference to England playing like the Australia of old but rather, that India is playing like the current Australian team. I suppose when you have been beaten senseless for over 15 years, it doesn’t take long on the top of the pile (5 minutes) to want to start enjoying it.
At any rate, England certainly are playing like world beaters. And as most of you know, unless India wins a Test in this series (unlikely) and England does not win another test (also unlikely), England will have rocketed to the number one position on the ICC Test table. In other words, England are tentatively there right now. MBEs all round.
I say “with a rocket” because before the recent Ashes series against Australia, England was ranked 5th. It does not seem like much Test cricket has been played since then but for England, the hits have kept on rolling.
And any way you look at it, England is impressive. The entire side is contributing. Seven of there players have made half centuries in just two Tests, three turning those into triple figures. And the opening combination, one of England’s best assets recent years, has barely woken up as yet. Three of the bowlers have taken five wicket hauls, and two of those have made impressive fifties. Swann is the only bowler not to have done much and I don’t think we can challenge is status as a top notch bowler – it’s only a matter of time. And did I mention depth? One of the strike bowlers breaks down but never mind, Bresnan can come in and make 90 and take “5 for”.
England looked in deep trouble twice in this match – but won by a landslide. At 8/124, it has to be said things looked grim. And in India’s reply, they were 45 runs in front with six wickets in hand. Somehow England managed to set India 478 to win and wipe them of the park. All this, not to mention the most unusual run out, which also featured the longest period of deliberation before a reversal, in just four days! Next thing you know, someone will be suggesting that all Tests should be four days.
On the run out, what a sensation. It must have been a near death experience for Bell – he was dead for nearly 20 minutes – I wonder if he saw a strange, white light – only to be told he could bat on. Anyway, credit to Dhoni. I bagged him after last Test but he deserves praise for showing some humility and sanity on a trying day. Let’s face it, while we are speaking of illusions to Australia, some sportsmen find it hard to act with dignity when they are being thrashed.