England showed, finally, that they can adapt to different conditions to win a Test match series in Asia but the next challenges England face will be very different and it’s important to look at how the side progresses before playing New Zealand and Australia in 2013.
The best chance England have of beating Australia next year who are equally in good form, is to keep a well balanced and consistent side, resisting the urge to make drastic changes. Alastair Cook and Nick Compton look solid opening the batting and seem set to form a partnership until at least one of them retires.
The middle order also doesn’t need changing from the last Test against India. The only spot which looks vulnerable is the number six position. However, Joe Root played well on his debut in India which means he should be given the nod next year.
The stability which this provides for England’s batting line up means both New Zealand and Australia will struggle to bowl England out cheaply which improves England’s chances of saving a match if everything doesn’t go to plan. If Cook or Compton or even both get out early, there is more than enough fire power to cover.
The real issue over how the side moves forward comes with the bowling. Don’t expect to see Samit Patel or Monty Panesar in England’s attack for next year. It is harsh especially on Panesar who is one of the best spinners around when the pitch starts to disintegrate and turn square.
Here are also some big questions that need answering with how the pace attack pushes on. James Anderson and Steven Finn look certain of their places. Anderson is clearly the best swing bowler in the world and Finn is the quickest bowler in the current England setup.
This leaves one spot open which will be between Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions. Broad is the favourite to take that position but his pace has to improve because he doesn’t have enough variety to be effective bowling under speed. Onions would be a much better selection than either of them because he is quicker than Broad and Bresnan at the moment and he has more about him to exploit the help from the pitch the seamers will get playing in New Zealand and England.
However, a fully fit and firing attack of Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Steven Finn has more than enough to take 20 wickets in a Test match against New Zealand or the Aussies.
There isn’t an awful lot of work for England to do away from the pitch. The ECB recently announced that Andy Flower would be stepping down from his role as the limited overs coach of England which means he can put his full thought and effort into Test matches.
This will ensure that England are better prepared than ever before for Test matches against any nation. England should have enough to over power New Zealand. It’s also important fans don’t read too much into an inexperienced Australian side playing well in heir own country because an Ashes series in England is completely different to playing South Africa and Sri Lanka at home.
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