The Enemy Camp – Praise all around for ruthless England

Yahoo cricket editorial blogs

(Note to readers: 'The Enemy Camp' will be the name for Yahoo! Cricket's coverage of the English press during India's tour of England.)

Sachin Tendulkar and night watchman Amit Mishra gave their teammates and Indian fans something to cheer about with their 144-run partnership for the fourth wicket on the last day of the four-Test series at The Oval. However, order was restored after Swann dismissed Mishra in the post-lunch session as India lost their last seven wickets for 21 runs to lose the Oval Test by an innings and eight runs as they were whitewashed 0-4 by the hosts. England have started their reign as the No. 1 Test team in style, while India has slipped to third in the rankings.

This is only the seventh time in Test history that there has been a whitewash in a series of four matches or more.

Former England player Derek Pringle writes in The Daily Telegraph that England have been consistent and are deservedly No. 1 in Tests, but tougher tests lie ahead:

England have only ever managed to whitewash teams in series of more than three matches on two previous occasions, both at home: India in 1959 and the West Indies in 2004.

Winning 4-0 in this era, against a team who still held the top spot a month ago, is as emphatic a statement of supremacy as is possible to make, which may be why Strauss, understated captain that he is, looked slightly at a loss with what to do with the Test mace when presented with it by Haroon Lorgat, the International Cricket Council’s chief executive.

Under Strauss and Andy Flower, at least following his official appointment as team director in May 2009, England have remained unbeaten in nine successive series, winning eight of them. That is a consistency deserving of No 1 status though their next major challenge will come when they play South Africa (a team they haven’t beaten over a series since 2004/05) next summer, and India on their home patch (a place they haven’t won since 1984/85) in 14 months’ time.

In the same paper, all-time Australian and cricket legend Shane Warne says England must retain hunger to remain the No. 1 nation in Tests:

England are the best side in the world but that is not good enough in itself. The players have to challenge themselves again. Andy Flower is a great calming influence and will create a healthy competitiveness.

I have been very impressed with the way they go about training, but now they must have the hunger to continue and go at it even harder.

The Australian team stayed No1 by being hungry all the time. In the nets if someone was struggling with the short ball, the fast bowlers would bowl hard at him. Likewise, if a player was struggling against spin. There has to be a competitiveness in the nets. It is about pushing yourself all the time rather than sitting back and saying “I am all right”.

That is where guys in county cricket play their part. They have to make sure they are challenging the players in the team. When Australia were at their best we could have picked two or three teams.

Jonathan Agnew in his column for the BBC says this has been a landmark series for England:

The scale of England's achievement is summed up in this statistic - this is only the seventh time in Test history that there has been a whitewash in a series of four matches or more.

Add to that the fact that England got to number one in the world by beating the best team in the world and it is clear this has been a real landmark series for Andrew Strauss's men.

It has been an outstanding team performance. Just about every individual in that team, at some stage, has done something that has really mattered.

The batsmen have scored big double-hundreds and posted huge first innings totals, while the bowlers have taken 20 wickets in all four Tests and only once allowed India to reach 300 runs.

Since May 2009, England have remained unbeaten in nine successive series, winning eight of them.

The Guardian’s Paul Weaver on the five learning points from England’s whitewash of India:

Ian Bell and Stuart Broad have proved themselves once and for all; the IPL is undermining India's Test chances; the coach is helpless when he doesn’t have the players to work with or when systems and attitudes are wrong and Kevin Pietersen has answered his critics in style and is back with a bang.

James Lawton writing in The Independent compares Strauss’ men with other England teams which achieved sporting glory:

No doubt the tribute and respect England won yesterday flowed partly from some exceptional talent but it had a different kind of foundation – and impetus.

It was based on a magnificent collective will and understanding. It grew from an acceptance that the past was too littered with mediocrity, too many teams who were not prepared to work hard enough, and maybe not suffer enough, for the goal of one day announcing themselves as the best in the world.

England's cricketers did this yesterday and as this ancient sports ground erupted with pleasure, as the team were handed a great mace to signify their new status, it wasn't hard to make the historical connection with those other teams who persuaded themselves they had the means to beat the best in the world.

First there were the World Cup winners of 1966, who were told by their driven coach Sir Alf Ramsey, "Gentleman, most certainly we can win the World Cup."

In 2003, Sir Clive Woodward pulled off a similar feat of persuasion – and, on a rainy night in Sydney, Martin Johnson led the team with the unlimited ferocity and Jonny Wilkinson delivered the coup de grace.

Nasser Hussain is glad Sachin Tendulkar didn't score his 100th international century as it would have papered over the cracks in Indian cricket and overshadowed all that Rahul Dravid has achieved this last month.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain on why he was happy Sachin Tendulkar didn’t score his 100th international century at The Oval:

If the piece of history had come now, the whole of India would have been celebrating and the partying could have gone on for days. And that would have papered over the cracks in Indian cricket and overshadowed all that Rahul Dravid has achieved this last month.

It was right, too, that Tendulkar was given out. A lot of umpires would have thought about the situation and who was at the other end when that ball from Tim Bresnan smacked into his pads. But Rod Tucker thought solely about the decision he had to make.

Nothing should be allowed to obscure how bad India, with the exception of Dravid, have been. Nothing should get in the way of the fact they have been absolutely abysmal.

They are without doubt one of the poorest teams I can remember touring England, either as a player or since I retired. The gulf between India and Andrew Strauss's team has been massive.

Scyld Berry is of the opinion Sachin Tendulkar’s limitations have been exposed during the Test series:

The truth is that we have learned more about Tendulkar this time - or rather his limitations - than on his four previous tours of England. He is the greatest accumulator since Sir Donald Bradman, dedicated to excellence and technical perfection, and records have fallen to him as a consequence.

But he is not a competitor like Viv Richards was, or Rahul Dravid is. By nature Dravid is not confrontational either, like Tendulkar, but he is always striving to get the best out of himself whether batting or in the field: among his other feats, Dravid has taken far more Test catches than anyone.

When Zaheer Khan limped off on the first day at Lord’s, it ended any chance India had of winning this series but not necessarily of competing.

If Tendulkar had brought his knowledge to bear at mid-off, instead of withdrawing to the boundary, and had talked India’s inexperienced seamers through each spell and sometimes each ball, as Zaheer does, India would not have folded as they did.

Other interesting reads:

England captain Andrew Strauss warns team to guard against complacency following whitewash.

Skipper MS Dhoni says India need to groom young players to replace ageing stars.

Simon Hughes writes in The Daily Telegraph that now all is well again in the Swann kingdom.

England were miles ahead of India in every department, including fitness, writes Steve James.

David Lloyd writes in The Independent patience will be a useful tool to have in England’s kitbag as they start their reign at the world’s best Test team.

Paul Newman and Lawrence Booth on the best moments from India’s Test tour in England.