I11 years have passed since England beat India 4-0 and climbed to No. 1 in the World Test rankings. Some of us may remember India being a little psychologically drained after winning the World Cup a few months earlier, bringing in a new manager, Duncan Fletcher, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook made Grandpa double hundreds and James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann were great. It was the last time England had swept a series of more than two Tests and, remarkably, Broad (but not Anderson) will be there in Leeds this morning to try and do it again.
England are at the top after Trent Bridge, but we have to recognize how precarious the line they run is. If Jonny Bairstow had crumbled confronting Matt Henry after tea on the final day, many of the same people who showered him with praise would have coated him in vitriol. When he tried to hammer England to victory, as instructed by the coach and captain, on Saturday night at Lord’s, he was ‘stupid’. When it happened in Nottingham, he was a “hero” who “ripped convention”. Whose agreements? Not his. We have to keep in mind that there will be thrilling successes when they cross the tightrope and times when they slip and fall. There is not one without the other for a team in this phase of reconstruction that has been encouraged to play in such an uninhibited way.
Jamie Overton is a welcome addition to the XI. I thought Matty Potts played very well at Lord’s and in the second set of the second Test, but having a 90 mph bowler on one end gives the captain the chance to play himself properly while subduing the opposition at pace ( “like fire”) and bounce back.
New Zealand welcome back captain Kane Williamson who is expected to return for Michael Bracewell while Neil Wagner is expected to be the man to replace injured Kyle Jamieson.
The draw is imminent. We will bring you team news once confirmed by the captains.