Tag Archives: vibes

England"s ruthless streak turned India series around – Nasser Hussain

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

Ruthless: Stuart Broad was gone from the side after two poor tests

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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

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.

Tour by numbers

Tour by numbers

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.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally justified the hype v England

Zlatan's a genius! Arrogant enigma’s wonder goal finally justifies his bragging



22:44 GMT, 15 November 2012

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave himself the perfect 10 but for once he may have been guilty of underestimating his own importance.

For a start there was the wonder goal, a 30-yard propeller kick, the final piece in his four-goal demolition of England which quickly became an internet sensation, hailed as one of the best goals ever.

But there was more to it, because after a night when the Swedes declared their handsome new national stadium open for business, their captain’s heroics were considered capable of healing social wounds and stemming the rise of the political far-right in the country.

Staggering: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

Staggering: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

It was, in short, some performance. ‘Zlatan’s Arena’ wrote the newspaper Expressen in honour of Ibrahimovic, who was born in Sweden of mixed Balkan descent. He is, indeed, some footballer, although it wasn’t always quite like this. Just as England debate how to get the best from Wayne Rooney, the Swedes for years did the same with their talisman.

Ibrahimovic had everything a modern centre forward might want and he won the title each year, be it with Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona or AC Milan. Yet rarely did he summon such form with any consistency in a Sweden shirt.

When England beat the Swedes in a friendly at Wembley this time last year, he was anonymous, apparently uninterested, emitting strong vibes of impatience at the failings of his team-mates. It came soon after the publication of his book I, Zlatan in which he dared to criticise Pep Guardiola and recalled how he told the all-conquering Barcelona boss: ‘I am a Ferrari and you are driving me as if I am a Fiat.’

His strike-rate against English teams had been appalling, even though in 2010 he scored twice for Barca against Arsenal. Despite his unwavering self-belief, Ibrahimovic was conscious of popular opinion in England. The statistics would roll out every time he played here, along with the fact that, for all his posturing arrogance, he has failed to win the Champions League.

Main man: Ibrahimovic scored all four goals as England were beaten

Main man: Ibrahimovic scored all four goals as England were beaten

This year, however, something changed regarding Ibra the Enigma and his relationship with English football. It started when AC Milan destroyed Arsenal in the San Siro in February. Ibrahimovic scored once but there was more.

He was majestic as he orchestrated a 4-0 win for the Italian champions and he tormented England again in Kiev at Euro 2012, where he was the best player on the pitch despite defeat, as he embraced his new responsibilities in the national team.

When Erik Hamren took control he made a significant tactical tweak, abandoning the 4-4-2 formation to which Swedish football had been wed for many years.

Hamren adopted the increasingly fashionable 4-2-3-1 system but Ibrahimovic, who seemed to be the perfect centre forward for such a system, would be his playmaker in the No 10 role, as well as his captain.

In Stockholm, the stage was set as Sweden declared its new 50,000-seat Friends Arena open for business with the nation locked in a debate about immigration, prompted by growing support for far-right party Sweden Democrats.

Thorn: Ibrahimovic was also impressive last season when AC Milan beat Arsenal

Thorn: Ibrahimovic was also impressive last season when AC Milan beat Arsenal

Ibrahimovic, born in Malmo to parents from Bosnia and Croatia, is a totem for Sweden in the 21st century and his heroics against England on Wednesday were celebrated across the country.

After recovering from four down to draw 4-4 with Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Swedish fans rejoiced in a thrilling 4-2 win against England, the beauty of the final goal and one of the great individual efforts. But there was more.

Sportbladet dubbed him ‘Sweden’s Pride’, and Pontus Wernbloom said: ‘They probably weren’t happy with that, the idiots. I hope Zlatan shut them up.’

Kim Kallstrom added: ‘He is a modern Swede who stands for new Sweden. With foreign-born parents and certain problems in society, he can hopefully unite the country in a good way.’

If he does this, Ibrahimovic may be justified in upgrading the mark he awarded himself for his contribution to Swedish football from a 10 to an 11.