With new appointments made to the men’s cricket managing director positions as well as coaches and captains in both formats, the new regime of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes in Tests had a lot riding on them when New Zealand came calling.
Their talk of positive and attacking cricket with a shift in attitude came true when they defeated New Zealand 3-0, leaving former England off-spinner Graeme Swann impressed.
"I have been incredibly impressed by the way England have embraced this new, positive attitude. It was a crying outfit to be honest, we had become very stagnant and stereo in the last couple of years of Test cricket. McCullum and Stokes have injected joie de vivre and the confidence is contagious, going through the veins of all the players," said Swann in a virtual conference organised by Sony Sports.
Up next for England is the rescheduled fifth Test in Edgbaston against India, who are leading the series 2-1. "Whether they can maintain this against the Indian bowling attack, we have to wait and see. England did this (won 3-0) against New Zealand bowling attack, who are World Test champions at the minute. It’s exciting that England are playing this brand of cricket and will be up against an Indian team, who are one of the best teams in the world," observed Swann.
Swann felt that a red-hot England have the upper hand over India ahead of the Edgbaston decider as they are coming off from facing New Zealand, while India, who last played a Test against Sri Lanka in March, played a four-day tour match against Leicestershire.
"It is a real bad time to play England because they just played these three games against New Zealand. There are chinks in the armour; the opening batting slot is still very weak. But nearly all the other spots are excellent.
"Even the spinner Jack Leach, who is under a lot of pressure, has got 10 wickets in a match at Headingley. England are in a very good position and I would say, they are slight favourites. The fact that India just had one (tour) game in Leicester, so they are coming in cold for the Test match, which is a bit of a disadvantage."
Just like England, India will also be led by a new captain-coach combination in Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid. But with Sharma in isolation due to Covid-19 positive test, Swann believes that England won’t mind seeing senior batter Virat Kohli captain India in Test cricket again.
"You could say why not let Virat Kohli finish off the things he started and could have a final hoorah. Whether Virat would want to do that, I don’t know whether India would do that. I don’t think England will really mind. Maybe, if you think about Ben Stokes. He would quite like Virat Kohli to be captain as then he could directly compare to how Joe Root’s team played against Virat’s Indian team."
Swann concluded by saying that who will be captaining India won’t bother England much. "England won’t be worried too much about who would be India’s captain. They would be looking for how they can put as much pressure on the Indian batsmen. The only way to beat India is to bowl them out.
"When we used to play against the Indian team, they had some of the greatest names of a generation in the team, we always used to worry about how to get them out for 200, 250, how to get them out. They will be thinking about how to get these guys out," said Swann ahead of the rescheduled Test which will be broadcast on Sony Sports Network from July 1-5.
–Ajit Weekly News