England haven’t won three in a row since the home series in 2014 against India. It is an inconsistency that has held their Test cricket back and is the reason why a richly talented team are ranked just fourth in the world.
England do, after all, have a number of world-class players – Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Cook, James Anderson, Stuart Broad would all have claim to a World XI place – many of whom have great experience and a further group of very good Test match cricketers such as Moeen Ali, Mark Wood and, when fit, Chris Woakes. There are some areas of concern, notably the top order batting, but the side, on paper, is a match for any team in the world.
Yet they have often veered from the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of one Test match. Last summer against Pakistan, a four match series which ended in a 2-2 draw, England beat their visitors at Edgbaston comprehensively by 141 runs but lost the next Test at The Oval by 10 wickets. The previous year, England beat Australia at Cardiff by 169 runs then lost the very next Test at Lord’s by a whopping 405 runs.
“He did get a life but you could see the way he went about it,” the captain said. “He’s got that look in his eye when he gets in in a difficult situation. He wants to wrestle things back in our favour and all of us can take a lot from that. Hopefully when different individuals get that opportunity, they take that on and we become a better side for it.”