England show preparation makes perfection
Ever since the winter of last year, the England team has become not just the best prepared side in Test cricket but also one of the best prepared sides in the world.
The 2007 Ashes series which was the epitome of ‘it will be alright on the day’ mentality has spurned the ECB and the selectors left by Geoff Miller into action; it may have taken four years to fully implement their plans, but at last the fruits of their labour are being becoming visible.
The amount of information and planning that is done by the selectors before a tour or match, the backroom staff before the match or innings and Andy Flower and Strauss during the match make every other side look as if they have just spent the last night partying and come to an exam with the answers on their hands. This is England’s clear blueprint for becoming the number one in the world. Prepare your players and get them ready for the big occasion, peaking at just the right time.
Maybe they’ve learned from the GB Oympic cycling team who used the same system before Beijing 2008 or Sir Alex Ferguson’s fabled start slow and charge late approach to Manchester United’s title winning seasons. However they did it, it’s working well.
They wisely used the Sri Lanka series to hone themselves as the fast starters like Cook and Tremlett gave England the platform to excel against India while men like Stuart Broad and Andrew Strauss with the bat to go away after a poor series and work on it.
Today’s win against the supposed best team in the world showed just how preparation can change a game. Broad bowled his best since the Oval in 2009 – and that was really only for an innings – Kevin Pietersen scored his best ever double hundred for England and Matt Prior proved that he is the best batsman-wicketkeeper in the world with a vital hundred when England were in trouble. All of them played in the Spring and are peaking at the right time. Of all the Indian players, the three players who stood out – Dravid, Kumar and Raina all played in the Caribbean. The rest have played very little cricket since the IPL and did not perform.
Those great West Indies and Australia teams who dominated their eras did so with individual talent that was well spotted by their respective boards. England may not individually stack up yet but they are becoming great as a team built on hard work both on and off the field. As long as they don’t let up their unique approach, that number one ranking will be theirs in three weeks.