Quite frankly, I am not surprised to hear Michael Vaughan’s view on the Test match series with India. Magnanimous as always, he was too much of a good sportsman to say what everyone knows to be true; India were lucky. England were not just good at Lord’s, they were great, and thoroughly deserved to win a match where they had been thrashing India since the first ball of the first day. Whether you criticise the umpires for offering the light or not (I certainly do) you can’t argue that without the weather, India had no chance of saving that match. Psychologically, that draw was a massive blow for England, and a huge boost to India, and arguably that more than anything else set the tone for the rest of the series. It almost seemed fated that an inferior India were going to win.
Trent Bridge is traditionally a swing-friendly ground, and with the torrential rain in the days leading up to the second test, it was a must-win toss. Whoever won the toss was always going to win. Having bowled so badly in the first match and been lucky to get a reprieve (thanks, mainly, to the brilliant batting of Dhoni who was India’s stand out player of the series) the Indian bowling unit were fired up to prove people wrong. Ultimately despite the win at Trent Bridge, I’m still not all that impressed by the Indian bowling attack which only ever looked threatening in very favourable conditions the sort that would make even me seem like a Test match quality seamer. Certainly I cannot see them scaring Australia during their upcoming tour and the return series at home.
Despite having had the very best use of an Oval pitch that was batsman-friendly throughout, and made a 600+ total in the first innings, India were unable to win the third test. Quite frankly that is pathetic and Rahul Dravid’s cowardly decision not to enforce the follow on might not have made any difference (I suspect that a draw was always going to be the result after India had batted too long in the first innings), but showed that they lack the ruthless mentality required to beat Australia. England can take a lot of heart from their batting at the Oval, actually, especially Pietersen, Collingwood and Bell, but Strauss yet again failed, and will no doubt be the one to make way for Flintoff’s return.
Other positives are Tremlett’s impressive bowling throughout the series, James Anderson’s ability to get the very best batsmen in the world out, on his day (he really must cut out the dross in between, however) and Ryan Sidebottom having the mental strength to keep his discipline despite not always getting the results he deserved. Praising the whole bowling attack would be a mistake, however as Monty Panesar, much hyped before the series, possibly fell victim to the hype by not bowling well enough. Everyone is allowed a bad series and I am not for one second suggesting that his place is under threat, but with England travelling to Sri Lanka next, they’ll be needing a lot better from their frontline spinner.