It wasn't long ago when the cricketing world was expecting England to lose in the ongoing Test series against South Africa, especially with the Proteas appointing a new management team consisting of stalwarts such as Graeme Smith and Jaques Kallis. The performance of the England team has been astonishing. Do England have it in them to become the best Test team in the world? After this performance they certainly seem worthy contenders for that title.
They have the best all rounder in the world in Ben stokes. When I played for England, having Andrew Flinoff in the team made a huge difference. It felt like we had twelve players in the team. If Andrew didn't have a good day with the bat he would make it up with the ball and his slip fielding skills. Ben Stokes brings that level of skill to the current England side. His batting in the third Test made the difference for England and put them in a dominant position.
Ollie Pope's performance must have given England selectors hope that they have found a genuine Test player. To me, Ollie Pope looks like a proper Test batsman. His youthfulness and energy must bring a breath of fresh air to the England side. I was pleasantly surprised by Dom Bess's bowling performance. He went to India and worked with Rangana Herath and his bowling has got some bite and control at the same time. Although it was a turning pitch I think he surprised everyone with his performance. The pitch did help the spinners with even Joe Root taking some wickets!!
It was an all-round and perfect performance by the England team. With Rabada getting a ban for the fourth Test, England will fancy their chances to win the next match. South Africa are suffering from players playing in England on the Kolpak system. At the moment the Kolpak XI looks stronger than the current South African team. Graeme Smith will need to have a look at their domestic structure and consider if players should be allowed to play in England under the Kolpak rule.
This England side certainly looks strong in the middle order with the emergence of Ollie Pope.
The recent one day series between India and Australia was always going to be a battle of Australian fast bowlers and the Indian batsmen. The pleasant surprise was how effective the Australian spinners were during the one dayers. The control and line with which Ashton Agar bowled was simple but effective. It's all about bowling wicket to wicket and giving no width to the Indian batsmen. I worked with Adam Zampa when I played in Sussex and seeing him become one of the premier leg spinners in the world makes me feel proud. His hold on Virat Kohli was the key battle which got people talking. His action is similar to Shane Warne; if anything he goes through the crease quicker than the legendary spinner.
The turnaround that the Indian team made after their heavy defeat in the first one dayer was the highlight of the series. From losing heavily in the first game to dismissing the quick bolwers in the final game of the series just shows that for visiting teams winning in India is never easy.
India have had an amazing summer when they have won every series. The cricketing world will have its eyes glued on the New Zealand series where India will travel for the Test and one day matches. How good is this Indian team? Are they dominant only in India or can they repeat their home performances in New Zealand? On home ground the Kiwis can certainly be a force to reckon with. Game on!