Cricket 2 years ago

Lionhearted England Eye Summer of Invincibility

  • Lionhearted England Eye Summer of Invincibility
  • Lionhearted England Eye Summer of Invincibility

    LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Stuart Broad, Joe Root of England and Jake Ball of England walk to the indoor school ahead of a nets session at Headingley on May 18, 2016 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

  • Lionhearted England Eye Summer of Invincibility

    LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 18: James Vince and England captain Alastair Cook take part in a fielding drill during a nets session at Headingley on May 18, 2016 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

  • Lionhearted England Eye Summer of Invincibility

    LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Joe Root, Jake Ball and Steven Finn of England take part in a fielding drill during a nets session at Headingley on May 18, 2016 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

  • Lionhearted England Eye Summer of Invincibility

    LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Joe Root, Jake Ball and Steven Finn of England take part in a fielding drill during a nets session at Headingley on May 18, 2016 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The last time England went into a summer with such finely blended air of certainty and definitiveness in their plans - as they would do this time around, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann were still the pillars of a team so successful that it was deemed as invincible, at least in home conditions, an accolade only enjoyed by South Africa during that time.

Unfortunately, as each of those pillars fell prey to the post Ashes hangover, English Cricket saw itself at the receiving end of a freefall only to be stuck to rock bottom. The Three Lions were billed as "incapable of being resuscitated" for years to come, but then again, what do we know about the sweetly maddening nature of this game?

It's more than a year today since Englad exited the World Cup with a humbling at the hands of Bangladesh, a time during which the English have regained The Ashes, recorded limited overs series wins against Pakistan in the UAE, beaten South Africa at their own backyard in a test series and of course, finished as runners-up in the latest edition of T20 World Cup in India. How times have changed. 

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For the first time since 2012 probably, England begin their home season as strongest of strong favourites to brush aside the two teams they will be facing this summer: Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Beating the two may never have felt like a big ask in English Conditions, but it's when you consider that England couldn't be sure of beating a mediocre West Indies side a year or two ago, that you realise the hefty amount of progress that has been made under Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace, who, mind you, have not just titivated but transformed the face of English Cricket from "antediluvian conservatives" to "the Cricketing Fashionistas" who know how to move with the ever-changing trends in the sport. 

And that is the most apparent reason behind England's meteoric rise across all the formats  - they've learned to accept the dynamics of the game while still ensuring their own principles aren't done much harm to, something they used to begrudge earlier but now willfully do it, which is also a testament to the change in mentality. 

This change of the mentality is why most of England's current stars, namely Joe Root, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and many others, have thrived. They used to be the sufferers of an automaton-development system of English Cricket but once the shackles were broken, this subdued lot, under the tutelage of other established players took England to a position wherefrom the team can eye invincibility, albeit in a realistic sense.

Obviously, England aren't perfect by any stretch of even a dreamer's imagination. There are problems to be dealt with, mysteries to be solved and journeys to be travelled. However, the kind of ruthless decision making some of the players have been the subject of by the management, combined with the fearless, positive and a winners' approach that aims to torpefy the opponent at the first chance, it is hard to see why won't England produce a perfect summer of any description.

As the Three Lions begin an iconic new phase at an equally as iconic Headingley tomorrow, a summer of indomitability doesn't seem a wild fantasy, it surely touches the ever-so wide English surface of reality.

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