England close to recording worst-ever Test year

Rapid decline leaves England mystified


England are starting to suspect the world and his dog are against them. It is not true – though the dog would probably be better at playing spin – but it is a feature of losing sides and it may be more prevalent in losing sides that used to be winning ones.

This has been a grim year for England and seven defeats in 12 Tests tells its own story. If they can prevent it becoming eight from 13, as they insist they can, in the Second Test against India starting on Friday, a corner may be turned.

It has been a rapid decline. Perhaps it has been exaggerated by the  sequence of reversals abroad but the loss of a series at home, to South Africa, provided further compelling testimony. In the 12 Tests before this, England suffered only one defeat, in the 12 before that it was two, and in the 12 before that, coinciding with the start of a refreshing new era under Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss, it was also two.

The players are largely the same and they are casting around for reasons why this happened. They seem unable to comprehend, to grasp that what once went so right is now going so wrong. It can’t be them can it, since they used to beat everybody, they were No 1 in the world? Jonathan Trott, who has suffered along with everybody else, had a go at explaining it yesterday.

“For the first two years of my international career we were a very successful team and achieved a lot and a lot quicker than people expected,” he said. “We had our goals and what we wanted to achieve and it happened a lot quicker than we expected. You become the No 1 team and a lot of attention goes on to you, how you deal with it and how you cope with in all conditions. The pressure is on you when you’re producing the results we had in the first two years. But if we turn around and win a couple on the bounce it will all be forgotten. In a month of cricket a lot can change.”

Trott’s form has suffered. He has made one of the team’s seven hundreds this year but otherwise has rarely looked the adhesive character whose early career was full of obstinate, thou-shalt-not-pass performances.

Only in three previous years have England lost eight Test matches: in 1984, 1986 and 1993. In the first two they had to play a rampant West Indies, losing 5-0 both times, and in the third an equally dominant Australia after being crushed in, of all places, India.

They have never lost nine Tests in a year and there is a real fear that a side which was No 1 less than a year ago could achieve that dubious feat.

England are railing about the past, pointing out how hard it is to play in India. It is 28 years since David Gower’s team won here, though that embraces only four series, all no longer than three matches and one of which they drew. They may do better to look at how their predecessors won rather than trying to deride those who also lost. Six years ago, England’s tour was split asunder when their captain, Michael Vaughan, and vice-captain, Marcus Trescothick, were both ruled out of the series.

The improbable figure of Andrew Flintoff took over and the series was just short enough for his infectious brand of enthusiasm to do the trick. England came from 1-0 down to level the series in Mumbai.

Gower’s team in 1985 also came from behind after losing in Mumbai, generating enough swing to disrupt India’s batting. That may be England’s best hope this time, though India’s seam attack, two man though it is, may be their match.

The pitch at the Wankhede Stadium is likely to have more bounce than at Ahmedabad, but England will not dare again to omit Monty Panesar. There is not much recent precedent to go on.

There has been only one Test at the ground since England won in 2006, a thriller against West Indies a year ago. The scores finished level on the last day with India nine wickets down.

To England’s credit, they know they messed up the first Test. But what they have not come to terms with is that they messed up throughout 2012.

It is possible that a team which rose to the top more quickly than expected has declined more quickly than expected as well. No element of their game seems to be working as it was. The batting was awful in Ahmedabad but the fast bowling was not up to snuff. The truth is probably that there are several teams at a similar level.

Trott said: “It’s a frustrating thing. There are no guarantees on anything in life and cricket. You can’t rock up the next day after working in the nets and train as hard as you can and guarantee that it’s going to work. The opposition are allowed to play well and we didn’t play well in the first Test.”

To avoid the unquestioned ignominy of eight defeats in a year they have to make sure that neither of those things happens in the next few days.

Finn to test injury in special game

Steve Finn, the England fast bowler, will remain on the tour of India following hospital tests. After a fortnight out with a thigh injury, a scan showed that Finn, who is unavailable for the Second Test starting tomorrow, has suffered no structural damage.

England intend him to play for the Performance Programme team, effectively England B, in a three-day match in Mumbai next week. They hope that he will then be fit enough for tthe Third Test in Kolkata. It will be a relief for a hard-pressed touring party, since there were fears that Finn would need to go home for treatment.

Mumbai teams

India (probable) G Gambhir, V Sehwag, C A Pujara, S R Tendulkar, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, M S Dhoni (capt/wkt), R Ashwin, Z Khan, P P Ojha, U T Yadav.

England (probable)  A N Cook (capt), N R D Compton, I J  L Trott, K P Pietersen, E J G Morgan, S R Patel, M J Prior, S C J Broad, GP Swann, J M Anderson, MS Panesar

Umpires A Dar (Pak) & T Hill (NZ)

TV Sky Sp’ts 1, Friday, 3.30am.

Odds Ind 10-11, Draw 15-8, Eng 9-2.

Weather Hot and sunny; Max: 32C. Pitch report Likely to have some bounce and turn but also encourage pace bowlers. The rebuilt stadium is said to encourage swing.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial