England: Great Test team, not so great ODI Team
Alastair Cook needs to captain England to more ODI wins if they are to be called the best team in the world
"A much greater emphasis is placed on the importance of the all rounder and fielding ability but the spine of the recent all conquering Australian side proved it's possible to dominate in both formats."
Frank Gregan tells us why England need to replicate their Test form at ODI level before they can hold claim to being the best cricket playing nation in the world.
Remember the good old days? "Ladies and Gentlemen, please show your appreciation for the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World..." These days boxing has more titles than the House of Lords and more belts than the luggage reclaim at Heathrow airport which dilutes the prestige.
The best cricket team in the world is easier to identify. In the past, they've tended to dominate the game in both formats, Test and ODIs. It seems that might be about to change as England look set to claim their place as the best Test team in the world but still have to win an ICC 50 over title.
The praise for England has been fulsome and perhaps a little premature. Sure, they've worked hard these last couple of years and have picked up some very big scalps in the Test arena, not least that of the Australians during last year's Ashes series Down Under. But as they showed during the World Cup earlier this year they are miles away from being the best one day team in the world.
Why? Granted, there's always the argument that specialist players are needed during one day games. A much greater emphasis is placed on the importance of the all rounder and fielding ability but the spine of the recent all conquering Australian side proved it's possible to dominate in both formats.
Andrew Flintoff went a bit overboard last week whilst praising the current crop of Englishmen. "England are the best team in the world already," he said. "They have got everything. I don't see why they can't dominate for a long time. They have strong enough players to do it. Australia and West Indies did it and England should be able to do it for the next few years."
Freddie was of course referring to the Test team but until England dominate the one day game as the Australians did then they do not have everything. They are the Twenty20 world champions and if they do manage to claim and retain the number one Test ranking for an extended period they need to supplement that with consistent performances and victories in ODIs.
The next ICC World Cup is miles away, both chronologically and in distance, the 2015 tournament will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand so there's plenty of time to get the balance and formula right. There's no doubt that English cricket is in a happy place right now but the Test form needs to be mirrored in the one day arena before the current crop of English players can be mentioned in the same breath as Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Glen McGrath, Adam Gilchrist et al!
What better place to start than a one day series against the current world champions. India have looked a shadow of themselves on this tour and have failed to live up to expectations. There are of course still two Test matches left to play in the series and they may sneak up and bite England on the backside but it will take a massive improvement on their behalf.
They will hopefully be much more competitive in the one day series and provide stern opposition for Alastair Cook and his charges. The two teams will play five matches in England before renewing acquaintances in October in India for another five match series. Ten games against the world champions in different conditions will give an accurate indication of the state of England's one day game.
All this big up talk about England might be premature because the Indians still have a chance to hang on to their number one Test ranking. The third Test gets underway on Wednesday with England priced at [2.44] to prevail, India at [5.2] and the draw [2.5]. Given England's dominance and the gulf between the two sides during the last two Tests it's hard to see anything other than another win for Andrew Strauss and his men.
If that happens then the talking heads will be able to say, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please show your appreciation for the undisputed best Test team in the World..."
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