James Lawton: England must find the consistency of natural-born winners

It says a lot for the development of England under Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss that there will scarcely be a breath of selection controversy at Trent Bridge over the next few days.

The closest to a gust of it accompanies the outcome of the first installment of the mano-a-mano between Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan.

Already it has been painted in vivid terms. Morgan, of course, does vivid whenever he comes to the wicket, whatever type of cricket or sub-species of it in which he happens to be involved. It is not something that can be said of the doughty Trott.

At times in his brief stint with England Trott might have brought fresh gloom and solemnity to a Welsh funeral, which is not to say that he doesn't represent an impressively solid addition to the team's batting strength since his century in his first Test at The Oval against the Australians last summer.

However, Mr Swashbuckler he is not and anyone who has been trapped in a cricket ground while he goes through his interminable, and at times frankly unsporting, preparation to receive a single ball will surely have raised their eyebrows this week at what was arguably the cricket quote of the year.

"They called me a flash in the pan, so getting a double ton [against Bangladesh] was pleasing," he declared. Yes, he said flash in the pan. Morgan might reasonably consider taking action under the Trades Description Act.

However, what England need even more against the impressively revived Pakistan than the pyrotechnics of Morgan and the continued application of the South African-born Trott are the virtues to which Stuart Broad has this week paid extravagant lip service in his newspaper column.

Under a headline declaring, "We'll show no fear against Pakistan... then be raring for the Aussies," Broad said, "Pakistan will clearly be a force to be reckoned with in the four Tests over the next month. But we are ready for this. The harder the challenge we face now the better it is as far as looking ahead to an Ashes winter goes."

It's a good theory but ever since the Ashes glory of 2005 we know that in English hands it is as fragile as a piece of porcelain. Broad, talented though he is, is perhaps the supreme example of an English ailment which can carry the patient so quickly between hubris and disillusionment – and then back again in the course of one mini-series.

At times in the Ashes triumph of last year Broad looked like the young English god of the game. At others he was petulant to the point of outrage in the way he spoke to team-mates and umpires, a characteristic which deeply affected his bowling performance in a potentially disastrous defeat at Headingley. Now, the requirement, which to be fair he has publicly acknowledged, is the kind of consistency, both of mood and performance, which marks the natural-born winners.

Even in their reduced circumstances, the Australians continue to generate an overwhelming sense that they do not quite know when they are beaten. They left Headingley last weekend beaten and deeply wounded, but not at the cost of any belief that when England arrive in Brisbane in November they won't again be pawing the ground in anticipation of revenge.

Since the collapse of Kevin Pietersen's captaincy at the start of last year, there is no doubt that the combination of Flower and Strauss has given England a confidence and a stability that has at times been quite spectacular – and not least when the wreckage of Headingley was cleared away with such authority at The Oval in the final Test of last summer. However, it is premature to believe that a fault-line no longer exists.

There was certainly plenty of evidence of its existence in South Africa in the winter, when the possibility of a hugely important series win was eventually swept away at the Wanderers ground. Had it happened, there would have been solid basis to believe that the ground lost so light-headedly in the wake of 2005 had been won back under significant pressure.

Now, there is a new invitation to prove that English cricket has grown strong again at some extremely broken places. The Pakistanis have new leadership, new talent and apparently a fresh appetite for returning to the mainstream of Test cricket after the ravaging impact of last year's terrorism. It offers the perfect challenge for a team who enjoy plenty of reasons to believe that they will triumph here before going back to Australia to consign to history the memory of an England team that simply fell apart four years ago.

It is a task that starts not in Queensland but in Nottingham today. England are craving to be taken seriously as the revived force in the world game. But first they must persuade themselves. It is a habit that, beyond the Broad declaration, they still have to fight to acquire.

Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits