England have given a hint that the fortunes of their Test side could be on course for a turnaround under the tenure of Chris Silverwood and reinvigorated captain Joe Root. The Three Lions recorded a series triumph over South Africa on the road, bouncing back from a 1-0 deficit to triumph by winning three games on the bounce.
It was a series that Root could ill afford to lose after failing to regain the Ashes from Australia in the summer of 2019, while his team then slipped to a meek defeat in New Zealand.
Silverwood in his new role as coach showed that his team would play a different method of cricket than his predecessor Trevor Bayliss.
Under the Australian, England were a swashbuckling side, capable of brilliance on their day, but always short of resilience and nous at key moments during Test matches.
England failed to find a consistent presence in their top order under Bayliss. However, Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley rose to the occasion against the Proteas in the absence of Rory Burns, who suffered an injury in training ahead of the second Test, as noted by the www.guardian.com.
The young duo will get another opportunity to showcase their skillset with Burns having also been ruled out of the next Test series against Sri Lanka. Building stability at the top of the order has been the Three Lions’ most prominent issue.
Time and again it has forced them into rearguard actions from their all-rounders and lower order.
Sibley the best!
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 6, 2020
However, the patient approach of Sibley, Crawley and even Joe Denly at number three eased the pressure on Root, while Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope were able capitalise on tiring South Africa bowlers to accumulate serious runs.
It’s a small step, but one that could prove to be important down the road. England are still massive underdogs for the next Ashes series down under with the list of leading bookmakers found at https://www.sportsbettingcanada.org, including Betway and 888sport.
Solving their issues in their batting ranks could give them a solid chance to fend off the advances of Pat Cummins and company in hostile territory. If they can sustain their form over the course of the English summer and into the winter, when they will travel to India, we’ll see signs of whether they’ll be able to compete in Australia.
The other important factor is the health of the bowling attack. James Anderson suffered a rib injury that ruled him out of the final two matches of the series. Fitness problems are starting to plague the 37-year-old, and as Mark
Ramprakash stated on www.skysports.com, he may be nearing the end of his Test career, despite his insistence to prolong his spell at the top of the game. Without him, England were able to cope as Stuart Broad remained consistent as ever, while Sam Curran continued to show his special ability. Perhaps the most significant breakthrough was the form of Mark Wood.
Injuries have limited the 30-year-old to only 15 Test matches, but he proved in Johannesburg that he has the quality to be a difference-maker, taking nine wickets as well as scoring crucial runs with the bat. Keeping Wood healthy has to be England’s priority over the next two years.
It’s a lesson for Root more than anyone else. Jofra Archer was worked into the ground by the Yorkshireman last year against Australia and New Zealand and it was enough to knock him out of the majority of the Test series in South Africa. England have two gun bowlers, who can disrupt the best batting line-ups in the world to go with their accurate seamers. They cannot afford to go to Australia without them fit and firing.
England made significant progress in South Africa with a quality win overseas, but it needs to be the start of a surge back towards the top of the world rather than a standalone triumph.