Lovely finish but bigger Tests await

The first part of England's cricketing winter went into meltdown with a 3-0 hammering by Pakistan, but the green shoots of springtime recovery arrived just in time yesterday when victory over Sri Lanka earned them a drawn series.

But the two Andrews at the helm of English cricket – captain Strauss and coach Flower – won't be under any illusions that the corner has been turned (certainly in terms of dealing with the turning ball), with bigger and better Tests awaiting during the rest of 2012.

Even a below-par England should be able to deal comfortably with West Indies, who play three Tests here, starting in the middle of May, when they could be playing in cool conditions on green-top surfaces which will certainly not suit the men from the Caribbean.

Then comes the main course. Three Tests (and why only three, when a five-Test series would be perfect?) against South Africa, the world No 1 ranking being put on the line in a winner-takes-all scenario. The other quibble about this series is that the Second Test – at Headingley – falls slap-bang in the middle of the Olympics, when the eyes of the world will hardly be on Leeds.

The likelihood is that from the team that beat Sri Lanka yesterday, only Samit Patel will make way for the West Indies series. A personal hunch is that Ravi Bopara will finally get another chance to bat at No 6 – with his bowling coming in handy – allowing Matt Prior to drop down to his rightful place at No 7.

The only other issue will be whether Stuart Broad replaces Steve Finn or Tim Bresnan, who will surely be difficult to drop now that his Test record is Played 11, Won 11.

The two batsmen under most pressure – Strauss and Ian Bell – know they need runs against South Africa. After that series, England travel to India for four Tests. That is when we will discover if England's batsmen have learnt any lessons on how to play spin. Of course, if the South Africa series has gone pear-shaped, it could be a new set of batsmen heading for the subcontinent.

England's bowlers, who were brilliant all winter, will fancy their chances against an Indian battingline-up which, although brilliant on paper, has been in steady decline.

World Test rankings

Tests/Points/Rating

England 44/5,124/116

South Africa 32/3,709/116

India 46/5,111/111

Australia 42/4,655/111

Pakistan 35/3,781/108

Sri Lanka 38/3,780/99

West Indies 30/2,604/87

New Zealand 28/2,366/85

Bangladesh 18/135/8

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable