Can England rise back to number one Test team after Ashes success?
It’s a good feeling that, despite England losing the 5th Ashes Test by an innings and 46 runs, we have regained the urn and have thus risen three places in the world rankings in the longest form of the game to third.
England are still just behind Australia by a mere four points, and they will now be hoping to replicate their number one status they achieved after the 2009 success against the Baggy Greens.
It may have taken two years back then to overtake India at the top, but they can do so a bit quicker if results go their way. Coral price them at 5/4 to be number one Test team by the end of 2016.
However, do England have what it takes to become a world dominating side once more? Is their eventual slim victory over an average Aussies team just false hope?
The fact that Alastair Cook and co were thrashed in two of those five Tests by a team that were dubbed the ‘Dad’s Army’, due to a number of players well in their 30s, means that there are still a number of cracks to pave over.
England players such as Yorkshire trio Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Jonathan Bairstow, as well as Jos Buttler, struggled with the bat, while the likes of Ian Bell and Alastair Cook averaged just 26.88 and 36.67 respectively.
With the ball, the hosts were more impressive, especially Stuart Broad, who revelled in the absence of James Anderson at Trent Bridge, while Steven Finn, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali also had their moments.
Vice captain Joe Root was great as always, managing 460 runs from the series at an average of 57.50, although he did end up behind new Aussie skipper Steve Smith (508) and the retiring Chris Rogers (480).
After the ODI and Twenty20 fixtures against Australia, England then face Pakistan in the UAE, where the latter are undefeated in eight Tests in their adopted cricketing home, and then world number one nation South Africa this winter.
If all goes to plan, England can top the rankings by February. But in order to do that, some changes will need to happen.
Cook had a decent series under the circumstances, digging in and showing great leadership at crucial moments. But he’ll need to find a good enough opening partner, as he hasn’t been able to show his true ability since the days of Andrew Strauss.
Will Lyth get yet another chance? Or will, perhaps exciting attacking youngster Alex Hales finally get a chance at the top of the order?
Bell and Anderson aren’t getting any younger, and the former in particular may be tempted to end his international career on a high while he can.
Former England captain Strauss, now national director, meanwhile, did hint before the Ashes that Kevin Pietersen could come back to the fold after the summer, and he would be a perfect replacement if Bell did leave. The South African-born batter could take his usual number four spot, while it would be a good chance to promote number one Test batsman Root to three.
Cook also suggested that Adil Rashid’s patience being in England’s squad since the West Indies could finally pay off, with England possibly playing two spinners, along with fellow all-rounder Ali, who should certainly be pushed up the batting order.
It will be difficult to know where England stand in their quest for number one status until after the series against Pakistan, that starts on October 13th, but a bit of shifting will be needed for those three matches.
One thing’s for sure, that England are in a great position currently, especially as they were unfancied before the Ashes, so let’s hope that they can build on their confidence and use it for world dominance.