India 226. England 227-3 (47.2 overs)
It’s amazing how a decisive victory in a dead rubber can lift our spirits. When you see the England cricket team play like they did yesterday, with so many first choice players missing, everything seems right with the world. Alternatively, you’ be forgiven for thinking: “why the hell didn’t we play like that in the three games beforehand?”
It all depends on whether you’re a glass half empty or a glass half full person. Today I’m part of the glass half full brigade – and the substance in my glass is champagne. Why? Because losing 2-3 in India is progress. It’s better than 0-5, the result we’ve endured on our last two tours, and India are now, if you look at the rankings, the best ODI side in the world. They’re also world champions.
Losing a series by a solitary game to Dhoni and Co in their own backyard, with a makeshift bowling attack, is a pretty good effort. There simply isn’t a tougher assignment in limited overs cricket. I’m probably kidding myself but hey, I’m sick of all the pessimism around here. In fact, I rather fancy our chances on home soil in the champions trophy.
Yesterday was a particularly good day for Ian Bell. He’s making a habit of last gasp centuries. He played particularly poorly in the test matches until his final dig – when a beautiful hundred secured the series – and now he’s done the same in the ODIs.
What is it with Bell? Just as soon as people start to question him, he’s delivers the goods. It’s almost like he’s toying with the media: “go on, say I’m rubbish, I dare ya”.
The other star of the show yesterday was Tim Bresnan. He’s been written off a few times too. If only I had a quid for every time I’ve heard people say things like “he’s not quick enough” or “he doesn’t do enough with the ball”. Heaven knows I’ve said it a few times myself. What he does have, however, is a big heart and no little skill. Maybe he doesn’t need that elbow operation after all?!
The other big winner from England’s consolation victory was Ashley Giles. We lost the warm up matches; we played like incompetent pelicans in the second, third and fourth ODIs; but this will all be forgotten now. The focus, quite rightly in my opinion, will be on the two impressive victories we did manage. Giles has secured a better result than his predecessors. That’s the bottom line.
Blimey, 2-3 sounds a lot better than 1-4, doesn’t it.