Test cricket is alive and well

It has been a great few weeks for Test match cricket with series played in South Africa, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

I thought the India V Australia Test series was great entertainment, not because of what happened to Australia, but because it has seen the re-emergence of India as a force in Test cricket.

And yes, the Aussie’s getting a hammering is always fun, but I don’t believe the result told the whole story.

Even without taking England’s toils in New Zealand into consideration, I don’t think the Ashes in England is the foregone conclusion people seem to already believe it is. Make no mistake the Aussies put up a fight in India, ok, so they may have been outclassed, but they didn’t lie down.

If England are two or three big names short come the Ashes, this could be a lot closer than people think. We have been here before with injured England players, so I am a bit concerned about the injuries to Pietersen and Swann.

All we need is those two to be missing and one of Trott, Cook, Anderson or Prior to be out, and we could be struggling.

The conditions in England will suit the Aussie quicks, and they have some good ones. In the meantime they do need to work on their batting though.

Of the other series…. South Africa showed they are by far the best Test playing nation in the world in hammering Pakistan. While Bangladesh managed to look competitive against Sri Lanka, which is a good sign.  

I don’t think we learnt a great deal about where this West Indies team currently stand in Test cricket, the only thing that this series showed me is that Zimbabwe are miles away from being a competitive outfit.

India look like they are moulding a Duncan Fletcher style side. He has got rid of a lot of the old guard and now has what I would call his team. I think their future is looking brighter.

Are Australia as bad as they are currently made out to be? I don’t think they are. What happened to them in India could have happened to a lot better side than them, I’m still amazed it didn’t happen to England.

New Zealand look to have developed a bit of a backbone since the South Africa series. They were the better side in two of the three Tests against England, but it just goes to show how tough Test cricket is as they couldn’t win either of those two Tests, and subsequently the series.

When you are on top like they were, you need to make it count, and sadly for New Zealand they couldn’t do that. Why? Because they are not good enough.

And as for England. I’m not sure whether to be too worried or not. Is this a wake up call, or are the team really struggling?

I thought Steven Finn could have bowled better. I’m not going to criticise him though because I believe he is a class act who will lead England’s attack for years. At the moment I think he is still really finding his feet at Test level, and he is still learning how to bowl off his new run up.

What’s happened to Stuart Broad? Is he carrying an injury we are not aware of? As he certainly doesn’t look himself too me. That’s why I’m not sure whether he is being nursed through Test matches, or is he just not fit and needs a kick up the backside?

The batsmen played some awful shots in this series, and it’s starting to look fragile again too me. If Cook, Trott or Pietersen don’t score, then we are struggling again.

There is a lot of inexperienced players in the batting line up now. Even with a fully fit squad for the Kiwi tour and the Ashes, there is still going to be two novices in the line up. Just goes to show how we can’t afford too many injuries at the moment.

The good thing about this New Zealand series is that it looks fairly obvious where England went wrong, so it should hopefully not be too difficult to put things right. There is a lot of room for improvement and I hope this series gives England the kick up the – you know what – that they looked like they clearly needed.