Home > Features >

England need to take the tough route to change their fortunes

England must dig deep to get out of the rut © Getty Images
England must dig deep to get out of the rut © Getty Images

Ever since being thumped by Australia 5-0 in their own den, England have been on a downhill path. England touched the nadir when they lost to a decent Sri Lankan outfit in their own den. Bharath Ramaraj looks at how can England resurrect their fortunes.

In the harsh world of sport, we have seen tales of blood, sweat, toil and tears that helps a sportsman to script a memorable journey and taste the eternal glory of success. However, there are also occasions when despite showing nerves of steel, you sink right at the last minute in the midst of a titanic battle. With two balls for England to escape with a draw against Sri Lanka at Headingley, Moeen Ali, the centurion, and James Anderson seemed to have pulled off a coup de theatre act.

However, with one ball to spare, Anderson lost his wicket to a fine short delivery targeted at his ribs by Shaminda Eranga. He was crestfallen and heartbroken, after battling so hard for so long. It was a travesty that Moeen after playing with poise and fluidity ended up on the losing side.

So, with yet another heart-wrenching series loss — and against a setup that they were expected to beat easily at home — can English cricket lift itself from the doom and gloom? The harsh reality is there are occasions when nothing goes right and there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of what feels like a very long and never-ending tunnel. At present, Alastair Cook, the England skipper must be feeling the same.

Here was a cricketer who was on the top of the world after England beat India in their own den after decades of misery, and then retained the Ashes series in 2013. But those nuclear warheads from Mitchell Johnson seemed to have taken the wind out of the Cook-led England team. It has to be remembered that for different reasons, England don’t have Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott with them. All three were redoubtable cricketers, who helped England to reach the pinnacle of Test rankings.

In such a situation, the burden falls on the shoulders of the captain. In some ways, it is unfair to criticise Cook for all that has gone wrong, as it is finally a team game. But with Cook, he doesn’t come across as someone who is assertive. He tends to go on the defensive soon and you don’t see that gambling instinct with him.

For instance, in the Test match played against Sri Lanka at Headingley, Cook could have gone for the jugular and introduced Moeen earlier into the attack. A part-timer can always prove to be useful, as shown by the astute Mark Taylor during his time as Australian captain. In the first Test, Cook could have been assertive and declared earlier.  In the end, Sri Lanka escaped by the skin of their teeth with nine wickets down in the second innings.

England’s bowlers too didn’t bowl the right lengths on a deck where they needed to bowl full (the trademark Headingley length). Here, Peter Moores may have to take his fair share of the blame, as even during his first tenure as the coach, it seemed like the he was hell bent on using the short ball as a tactic on a slow Chennai track against India. India chased down 387 in the final innings, and England lost the game.

It will take a lot of pain for England to come out of this black hole that they find themselves in. They need to select a group of players and give them a long run. England need to find a replacement for Anderson, who won’t be around forever. The onus is on Cook and the England think-tank to show that long-term vision which has been lacking in recent times.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (12:30 IST)   at Bulawayo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 16, 2014  at Galle

South Africa won by 153 runs

Photos

Gallery: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord's

Videos

Alastair Cook jokes about his bowling

India’s wins in England — from 1971 to 2014

Ravindra Jadeja knighted by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II

India’s win over England in 2nd Test at Lord’s: Twitter reactions

Ishant Sharma pummels England into submission as India clinch Lord’s Test by 95 runs

Ishant Sharma registers name at Lord’s honours board, takes 6 wickets in 2nd Test against England

Bhuvneshwar Kumar England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Ishant Sharma MS Dhoni South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014

India tour of England 2014: Ravichandran Ashwin should play at Southampton, says Bishen Singh Bedi

India tour of England 2014: Boycott slams Cook over stubbornness to quit captaincy

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test Preview: Proteas aim to seal series

India tour of England 2014: Peter Moores says senior players must buck up

India tour of England 2014: Sandeep Patil asks team to stay focused

Can America be the ‘Land of Opportunity’ for cricket

Graham Gooch’s fabulous numbers in all forms of cricket

India tour of England 2014: Ishant Sharma and the curious case of Indian fast bowling

India tour of England 2014: Figures demonstrate why the Lord’s win is special

India’s overseas victories where pace bowlers dominated – Part 2 of 2

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Madhur Bhandarkar starts shooting for Calender Girls!

Panasonic T41, P41 and P61 Android KitKat launched in India, prices start from Rs 7,990

Nokia Lumia 530 with 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage announced; priced around Rs 8,000

Can America be the ‘Land of Opportunity’ for cricket

Himachal men donating organs for wives

Watch Priyanka Chopra kick ass in Mary Kom trailer

India tour of England 2014: Ravichandran Ashwin should play at Southampton, says Bishen Singh Bedi

Shivi Kashyap garners appreciation for her singing talent

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here