England drew their series against New Zealand after losing the second Test at Headingley yesterday. So with around a month to for the all-important Ashes 2015, did they take with them any positives for that series against Australia?
They didn’t lose despite some great cricket from New Zealand!
After the dispiriting loss in the Headingley test, it’s easy to look on the negative side of things. However this was a series which many seasoned observers expected England to lose and the Kiwis played some extraordinary cricket, attacking constantly throughout.
The fact that Alastair Cook’s side were resilient enough to match Brendan McCullum’s aggression means that if they can cut out the sessions of poor cricket which let a comfortable positions in the series slip like they did on days two and three of the final match, they could be competitive during the Ashes.
The opening partnership looks solid:
Perhaps the biggest positive to come from the New Zealand series has been that England now appear to have an opening pair with an air of reliability about them.
Alastair Cook once again looks like a man prepared to lead from the front, as he showed with 162 at Lord’s, as well as 75 and 56 at Headingley, with every innings being made under pressure. He had earlier ended his tour of the West Indies with a century as well.
His opening partner Adam Lyth showed with a century at his home ground that his Yorkshire grit may make him the man to solve England’s constant difficulties at the very top of the order since Andrew Strauss retired and that will give them a huge boost going into the Ashes.
Stokes and Broad give lower-order punch:
The big story at Lord’s was Ben Stokes’ emergence as an all rounder with the potential to damage teams like the best players, not least England’s own former hero Andrew Flintoff.
A less feted, but perhaps a significant one from Headingley was the fact that Stuart Broad looked capable of holding a bat once more. Broad may have been expensive and bowled poorly at times but still took wickets.
If England are to beat Australia, they’ll need men like Broad and Stokes to fire and stick it to an Australian side who we saw at the World Cup are extremely aggressive. A quick Stokes or Broad 50 or either man grabbing a flurry of wickets will help relieve what will be relentless Aussie pressure and help inspire both the team and crowd.