By Sam Marsh
England scuttled to a miserable end to what has been a shocking winter tour program. The final test match of the year ended with India thrashing England by an innings and 75 runs in Chennai. Leading to a 4-0 series defeat to India. This coupled with a 1-1 drawn series in Bangladesh in October. Throughout the tour, especially against India many issues with the England team became apparent.
To me it looks like Alastair Cook is finished, he has looked like he has had enough, that this was a lost cause and has said he is going to comment on his position after he meets with Andrew Strauss. Where I suspect he is going to resign with immediate effect leaving the team in the hands of Joe Root.
I don’t think Cook is finished as a Captain, personally I would attempt to keep him on, he has done wonders for this group of players. Winning 24 out of 59 tests, with 13 draws shows he has a good record. But also there are very few who could replace him, the heir apparent Joe Root would not be a good idea in opinion, he doesn’t seem to have the intimidation factor I feel many skippers need to be successful over a long period of time. I would go for Ben Stokes to replace Cook if he decides to stand aside. He has the ability to be around for a long time, being an all-rounder he understands the principles of both batting and bowling, plus being a gun fielder would lead by example. He also like to get stuck in to the opposition as he has an aggressive personality so should be able to get his team fired up.
Some of the batsmen in the sub-continent looked as flaky as a pastry. With England loosing all 10 wickets for under 100 runs on 3 occasions, which is bad. England need to find a suitable no.5 plus an opening partner if Cook stays around, which I suspect he will even if he gives up the captaincy. The answer just now is Haseeb Hameed to open, with Keaton Jennings to go to no.3 is the train of thought with the pundits. This would then free Root to go back to no.4 a position which suits him better. This could allow Moeen Ali to move to no.5, the reasoning behind which will be explained in due course. Stokes at 6, Bairstow at 7, Chris Woakes 8, Liam Dawson 9. With numbers 10 and 11 being a combination of Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, James Anderson, Steve Finn, Mark Wood and Toby Roland-Jones.
You can’t talk about issues with English Cricket without talking about the lack of quality spin bowlers. Long gone are the days of Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and even Phil Tufnell.
There where 6 spinners used by England this winter, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Dawson, Gareth Batty, Zafar Ansari and Joe Root. None did outstanding, or even very good. This is understandable in the case of Root as he is only a part time bowler but the rest either weren’t given the time (Dawson, Batty) or down right failed to impress over the 7 tests. Ansari got injured which stopped him from showing what he could do, but overall I doubt he would have excelled. Dawson looked decent, taking the primary spinner role in the solitary test he played. Moeen looked to slip down the pecking order when it came to bowling. Which is why I think he should move to no.5 with the bat and act as the second spinner to either Liam Dawson, Danny Briggs or Jack Leach. The latter which must feel amazed he wasn’t called up for the tour despite being the spinner with the most wickets last season, and playing on a pitch that suited him (like India would had). All over an action that the ECB though was to risky to travel with, which I personally don’t buy.
Overall, England were not expected to win against India. But they should have done a lot better than they did and need to improve a lot if they are to retain the Ashes when they go to Australia in 1 years time.