Nasser Hussain: England's new ruthless streak turned series around
23:46 GMT, 17 December 2012
The first Test in Ahmedabad may have seen England beaten heavily but the second innings there proved a turning point both in this series and in the future of this team. Without it things could look very different now.
Just look at what had gone on before then. The high of going to No 1 in the Test world last year was followed by a 5-0 one-day thrashing in India, then a 3-0 Test hammering by Pakistan in the UAE followed by a convincing Test series defeat by South Africa last summer and then a very poor performance in spinning conditions in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
All the good vibes about the England cricket team were starting to be questioned.
Ruthless: Stuart Broad was gone from the side after two poor tests
More from Nasser Hussain…
Nasser Hussain: We have to bring in DRS for all Test matches
Nasser Hussain: Little Master has no answer to the immaculate Anderson
Nasser Hussain: Careless England fail to punish defensive Dhoni and leave the door ajar
Nasser Hussain: Don't let India off the hook now – win and leave them in turmoil
Nasser Hussain: Do Dhoni, Gambhir, Sachin and India legends still have Test hunger
Nasser Hussain: Captain fantastic is allowed to make one slip-up
Nasser Hussain: Fletch told me 'This lad will be a great…' I just couldn't see it!
Nasser Hussain: Sachin just cannot work paceman out as Anderson gets the better of him again
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
But when Alastair Cook scored a big hundred in a losing cause in Ahmedabad in that second innings things changed. It was the moment the captain said to his team: ‘Hang on, there are no demons here. The ball is not spinning both ways. If we show some character, application and belief we can do this.’ And since then the transformation has been astonishing.
Everything England have done since then has been right. And their business has been conducted in a quite ruthless manner. There has been no dilly-dallying, no worrying about reputations. This has been anything but a closed shop.
Tim Bresnan has been a very good cricketer for England but as soon as Cook and Andy Flower realised they had made a mistake in not picking Monty Panesar for the first Test the Yorkshireman was gone.
Stuart Broad was England’s vice-captain and one of the leading wicket-takers in world cricket in 2012 but when he had two poor Tests and England knew they had to get a fit-again Steven Finn in the side, Broad was also gone.
Samit Patel had not done too much wrong but once it became clear that his bowling was not going to be required with Panesar in the team England took one look at him and said: ‘He’s not one of our best six batsmen.’
And then they overlooked Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan to make another ruthless, and what turned out to be a thoroughly astute, call in picking Joe Root.
England basically had to nail everything to win this series after going one down and they did it. Look at Kevin Pietersen. He was a frenetic wreck in the first Test and only had a couple of days to come up with a defensive technique against his old nemesis, left-arm spin. What happened He went out and smashed 186 in Mumbai.
Good call: Joe Root was brought in for business and it proved a wise decision
Consider also that this effectively became a three-match series when you look at how poor the wicket in Nagpur was.
was going to get a result on that so England had to win in both Mumbai
and Kolkata, which they did in spectacular fashion. Two players stand
out — Cook and Jimmy Anderson. The way the new captain went about his
work was hugely impressive. He is a run machine. Cook would always start
again after a big innings as if he still had everything to prove.
He was never out straight after an interval or after drinks, as many were in this series, and he always made sure he kicked on after reaching a hundred.
And Anderson was world-class. The deliveries and spells he produced. The hold he had over Sachin Tendulkar. He led the attack with great energy and gusto, and he was not even as grumpy as he can be. Jimmy set the tone and he enjoyed what he did.
India are not the side they were. If I was putting together a composite side from the two teams I would start by picking the whole England attack. England, for once, had better spinners than India in Indian conditions. The tourists were fitter, both physically and mentally, and hungrier for Test cricket. India would not have been able to take four wickets late in a day, after two sessions without a wicket, as England did on Saturday.
India went one up and just thought they could prepare a turning pitch and England would crumble. They showed too much bravado.
And England made them pay very heavily indeed for that.
Picture dispute: We are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.
The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.
MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.