England win series in India for first time in 27 years

Double-century partnership between Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell leads England to their first Test series win in India since the days of David Gower

The plea was in danger of falling on deaf ears. They listened but they did not necessarily hear. When England were crushed in the opening match of the Test series against India, their coach Andy Flower was disappointed but rational.

In a considered discourse he asked three times that judgement should be delivered not then, not in the immediate wake of the nine wicket drubbing, but at the end of the series. It was an entirely reasonable request which equally could not entirely conceal the suspicion that he was playing for time.

England were fragile against spin yet again in that first Test in Ahmedabad. Worse still, their seamers looked off the pace as well. Flower genuinely thought matters could improve but he was probably working as hard at convincing himself as well as others.

Judgement day finally arrived in Nagpur three matches later. Long before the close of a dull but vastly significant draw, England had turned the series round. They won it 2-1, defeating their opponents by ten wickets in Mumbai and seven wickets in Kolkata.

It was a superb triumph, almost matching their Ashes win in Australia two years ago. They outsmarted India at their own game. When it mattered (when they were both picked, that is) England’s spinners were too slippery for India’s batsmen, England’s batsmen foiled India’s spinners, England’s seamers, and one in particular, probed and harried and never gave a moment’s rest.

The verdict is that England confounded observers outside the small world of the dressing room; they probably surprised themselves. There comes a time in the affairs of man when the constant refrain that self-belief still exists, that talent will out is mere bluster.

Yet they did it and England won a series in India for the first time since 1984-85 when David Gower’s side also had to come from one behind. Flower should be accorded his due because he admitted his mistakes and held his nerve.

But this series belonged to Alastair Cook, England’s new captain. After the shambolic first innings in Ahmedabad he seized control of affairs. He recognised that the way to win was to grind India down. He grinded and he kept grinding. His sequence of 176, 122 and 190 was interrupted only by his 18no to win in Mumbai.

Long before the end, this team had become Cook’s team. As with his predecessor, Andrew Strauss, it seemed to be moulded in his image. He was measured, stoic, patient and so were his men.

Cook has played international cricket for six years and India in general and Nagpur in particular will always have a special place in his soul. It was in this city that he appeared in a Test match for the first time and it was in this city that he completed his first series win in his first as captain.

Added to the two matches in Bangladesh nearly three years ago when he acted in a caretaker role while Strauss had a rest and it is clear he might have something. But he is a different man now, sure of himself because it is his team. This could be the start of a great adventure.

England were not quite there when they turned up. Although this has been far from a vintage Indian side they were still prepared to fight to hang on to the vestiges of their home record. Work was still to be done.

Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell duly performed it. Having come together at 94 for 3 when it still had potential to become tricky they took their partnership to 208, England’s second highest for the fourth wicket in England.

Both scored hundreds. It was Trott’s eighth hundred for England, his second this year, and Bell’s 17th, his first of 2012 in which he played 25 innings. Each will have scored tougher ones, probably all 23 that jointly preceded the pair yesterday, but they knew there was a series on the line and history to be made.

They played normally in the first hour which was exactly what the position demanded – nothing reckless, nothing overly defensive. Trott was out for 143 when he glanced a shot to leg slip, Bell might have been caught at slip when he was 75, attempting a cut.

He was there at end, on 116no, playing the last ball defensively, when England declared their second innings 356 runs ahead. Joe Root, the debutant, was there with him having batted in a composed way for the second time in the match.

This time there was not the immensity of the first innings when he had to deal with a parlous position of 139 for five and he was able to enjoy himself, hitting his first six in Test cricket, something Trott is still waiting to do after 38 Tests.

Considering the rarity of this win, the brilliant manner in which it was achieved and the fact that it came at the end of a troubled year it seems almost churlish to deride the last match and the pitch it was played on. But a series standing at 2-1 to the tourists, who had come from behind, deserved a better finale.

The pitch was hard, slow, encouraged no-one and kept getting better instead of worse. One pitch like this for a form of the game which often seems to be fighting for survival is one too many. It was too easy to stay in on and too difficult to get people out on. In five days 24 wickets fell and some of those were gifted.

It was perfectly correct therefore that the man of the match award went to Jimmy Anderson, the leader of England’s attack, who had a wonderful series when he found his range after the first Test. His burst on the second afternoon when he dismissed three of India’s top four with swing bowling of intelligent precision was effectively a series clincher. Watching Anderson was to enjoy a craftsman.

Cook was man of the series for scoring 562 runs. India have problems in batting, bowling and fielding but it was England that made them. The feeling was almost as good as winning in Australia. It was bloody marvellous all over again.

Arts and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution