As I write this England are currently sitting at lunch on day three of the final test match at 92-5, this is after New Zealand scored 443 in their first innings. This means they have made it hard for themselves to win the match and therefore the series. After the historic win in India and previous highs this is very much a low.
Before the series had started I heard a former England captain confidently state this was the best England team in history and that they should wipe the floor with this poor New Zealand team. I do not totally disagree with that statement but it hasn’t quite worked out as planned. This smacks of an over arrogant team who are very under prepared or just not bothered. They seemed up for the games against South Africa and India, so why have they not turned up in New Zealand?
In my opinion England have gone back to the old English mentality, this is to forget about the current series and concentrate on the next series which they believe is more important. The media do not help in this, the amount of times I have read that this is a build up for the Ashes. The bad form started before a ball had been bowled in the test series, I have to agree with Geoff Boycott that England spent to much time doing other activities such as bungee jumping instead of practising. Did they believe that New Zealand were so poor that they could just turn up and beat them?
Rain saved England in the first test, otherwise they could have actually lost that game. They were better in the second game but are back onto the form of the first game again. What is interesting is that the players who had to prove a point have performed, and the people who were on form before this series are on poor form. Have these people just not turned up because they are sure of their place in the summer? People like Cook, Trott and Bell should be ripping into this bowling attack. The only batsman to do something of note is Compton, this is probably because he had something to prove.
Ian Bell has done what he usually does, as in he plays well if the team play well. I have never seen the guy dig England out of a hole, he goes missing when the pressure is on. Alistair Cook has been really poor also not looking a shadow of the player he was in India. Same could be said for Jonathan Trott and even Kevin Pietersen, who has been dismissed by a left arm spinner again in the series. I can guarantee one thing, that these guys mentioned will be much better when it comes to the Ashes, I wonder why.
Another disturbing thing is that the England top order has struggled with a swinging ball today, this is very odd. Compton had the right idea with his hundred and eighteen ball, thirteen, the rest were impatient. He and Matt Prior can stand up at the end of the series and state they have batted well, oh and I should mention Steven Finn. In terms of bowling Broad did his usual, a similar thing to Bell. He only plays well one game in ten. This is usually the game were people are questioning his place in the team. I still think England will win the Ashes, only because Australia are going through a tough period. Not too much should be read into of the poor Aussie tour of India, considering it is the first tour of India for most of the players. They will have slightly more common conditions to play in when they arrive in England.