Cricket Expert & Columnist
Eng v Ind, fifth Test: England must raise bar in preparation for Ashes
Two good weeks doesn’t put to bed all of the issues they've had...
Last Updated: 12/08/14 2:23pm
England must extend their upturn in form through to next summer’s Ashes against Australia, says Nasser Hussain.
Just about now the mental baggage and scarring of Australia seems a distant memory.
Alastair Cook’s side – trounced 5-0 in Australia this winter and beaten 1-0 by Sri Lanka earlier this summer – has rallied impressively to earn a 2-1 series lead over India going into the fifth and final Test, which starts on Friday at the Oval.
Victories by 266 runs and an innings and 54 runs at The Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford respectively have turned the tables on and Indian side that won at Lord’s for only the second time in 82 years.
But with a 10-Test treadmill in store for 2015 against the West Indies (three Tests, away), Sri Lanka (two Tests, home) and Australia (five Tests, home), former England skipper Hussain told Sky Sports News that England can’t rest on their laurels.
“Just about now the mental baggage and scarring of Australia seems a distant memory,” said Hussain of a series in which paceman Mitchell Johnson bagged 37 wickets at 13.97 apiece.
“But we mustn’t get carried away and think ‘everything’s solved, Mitchell Johnson will come in and bowl next summer and that will be fine’. You’ve got to be a realist.
“Peter Moores’ and Alastair Cook’s job is to win the game that is in front of them – that’s especially the case for Alastair.
“I always felt that the captain should just focus on what’s in front of you – beating India, winning the series at the Oval. That’s Alastair’s job.
“The coach and the backroom staff have to look and say’ we are going well now, we’ve had two good weeks. What do we have to learn for the future; what can we learn from the past about the future?’ so that when Australia pop in next summer the bar will be raised again.
“Two good weeks doesn’t put to bed all of the issues that they’ve had but they’ll still take those two good weeks.”
Cook insisted he had no intention of quitting the captaincy in the wake of England’s second Test defeat to India, despite intense media speculation, and proceeded to ease the pressure on himself by scoring 95 and 70no in the third Test.
But the skipper fell for just 17 in his only visit to the crease in last week’s fourth Test and it is over a year since he scored a Test match century.
Hussain says the opener still has some way to go until he recaptures his form of the 2010/11 Ashes, when Cook amassed 766 runs at an average of 127.66.
“His captaincy is fine – he’s done well in the last two games; he’s done really well, actually,” said Hussain.
“But what concerns me with Australia coming up is that, if England do want to go up the ladder and get back up towards World No 1, Cook the batsman needs to return to the heady glory days of that Australia tour.
“If he believes he can combine the two and still be the great batsman that he once was, then that’s great. The bloke has such determination; he’s not a quitter. I think we should be very proud of him for that reason.”
Watch the fifth and final Test between England and India – the 200th England Test broadcast on Sky Sports - live on Sky Sports 2 from 10am on Friday.