England can be one-day wonders of the World

Amid the hullabaloo, one small matter has been easily overlooked. England have become unusually efficient at limited-overs cricket. Already world champions in the shortest form of it, there is no reason to doubt that they can make it a double in India next spring by winning the original version.

There are several caveats to this, not least of which is coming up against India on their own turf, but the transformation in approach, method and execution has been startling. In the first match of what is known as "the series that nobody wants", England beat Pakistan by 24 runs on Friday.

The second of five matches will be played today at Headingley when England can confidently expect to go 2-0 ahead, a considerable step towards winning their third one-day series of the summer. Therein lies another of those caveats: Pakistan are a team in disarray. It is difficult to see where they might get the huge break they need to win another match on this tour. In some eyes, England's achievement would be diminished by the shambolic state of the opposition.

Sadly, the cricket has been reduced to a sideshow by events off the field. Three Pakistani players – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer – have been suspended by the International Cricket Council and are now at home in Pakistan. A fourth, Wahab Riaz, is to be questioned by police. Each day brings supposed new revelations, all prompted by the News of the World sting which entailed the bowling of no-balls to order in the Fourth Test at Lord's.

Since then it has been open season on cricket. Several previous matches, most but not all involving Pakistan, have been called into question, usually because of gut feeling rather than reliable testimony. Calls for this series to be abandoned have been strident and sanctimonious. The England and Wales Cricket Board, for reasons that might not be entirely altruistic, were never about to bow to any pressure for cancellation.

To watch the game at Chester-le-Street on Friday was to be reasonably convinced that continuing with the matches was correct. The Riverside was all but full and the manner in which the spectators reacted to England's composed if not flawless performance suggested match-fixing was not the only thing on their minds.

England, admittedly against bowling which has lost lustre with Asif and Aamer gone, made an unassailable total. In the new wicketkeeper-batsman Steve Davies, whose innings of 87 from 67 balls was from the top drawer, they may have unearthed an authentic international cricketer.

It was heartening that Pakistan made a fist of it. There was the sense, after the horrors of the two Twenty20 matches in Cardiff which left a hollow feeling about cricket's future, that the game was restored. But England were much too good. They dropped a couple of catches, missed the stumps twice with direct throws but such shortcomings are now remarked upon, rather than being routine. Their ground fielding is quick, alert and precise. Everybody seems as though they know what they are doing, the opposite of England's approach to one-day cricket for much of the past 10 years.

The allegations of corruption and the shockingly small crowds at Sophia Gardens have served at least to deflect attention from the Ashes – but they are still imminent. The squad will be named soon and the mood is growing that the fifth seamer's spot will go to Surrey's Chris Tremlett. This might be bad news for Tim Bresnan, who has become part of the squad but not quite made a compelling case.

How wonderful it is to be discussing the vagaries of form, fitness and selection. There is, too, a riveting climax to the County Championship in prospect with Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Yorkshire all playing for the title. Three more reasons for hope and not despair.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine