The Ashes look rosy for England

Andy Lloyd
TUESDAY’S win reinforced the view that England are in front of Australia. It was judgment time to see where the Australian and English sides were, with the Ashes only 12 months away, and England are miles in front.

Australia brought over some of their younger players – James Pattinson, Pat Cummings, Matthew Wade – who are all new to English conditions but I didn’t see anything England need to worry about. They’ll have to make a massive improvement in a short period of time if they’re to trouble us.

Australia are ranked the No1 one-day team in the world not because of their performances over the last 12 months, but for their 12 months before that. The fact is England are very, very good at home – they’re, right now, the best team in the world – but I still recall us going to India at the back end of last year and not winning a game there, so let’s not get over-zealous in our praise. When we go to the subcontinent, we still struggle to come out with wins.

I’m sure that Andy Flower, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook would all love to see us go to the subcontinent and win, and the first test of that will be when we go for the Twenty20 in Sri Lanka at the end of the season. But we’re clearly a very competent side and confidence is sky high.

A lot had been made of the abilities of Kevin Pietersen, and while it may have been down to the ineptitude of the Australian bowlers, we didn’t miss him at all.

There were also real positives in Eoin Morgan’s form – when he’s performing he’s as good as any No5 or 6 in one-day cricket – Ravi Bopara playing so well again, and Steven Finn also looking the full package. He’ll be pushing for a place in the Test side.

Everyone will have recognised, though, that South Africa are the second best Test team in the world right now, and I’m sure all the focus is on England getting it right and playing their best against them. It’s not a given, because in Dale Steyn and Graeme Smith they’ve got world-class players who would get into any team.

Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who captained, and then later acted as chairman of, Warwickshire.