BBC BLOGS - Test Match Special

A special era for England and their supporters

Tom Fordyce | 12:55 UK time, Tuesday, 29 May 2012


These are curious times for English cricket.

Not so long ago a series win was a cause for national celebration. Slightly longer ago it was such a rarity that there would also be genuine surprise.

That we have become so accustomed to victory that a nine-wicket win - making it seven series wins at home in succession - prompts admissions from skipper and sages of a lack of ruthlessness speaks volumes for how significantly ability and expectations have shifted since then.

England have never before won seven home series on the bounce. Only twice have they won six, between 1882 and 1896 and from 1955 to 1960.

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A turning point for Samuels?

Tom Fordyce | 19:48 UK time, Friday, 25 May 2012


It was a day of surprises - unblemished blue skies after a month of rain, West Indies fighting back in fine fashion having seemed damaged beyond repair, a glorious Test century for one of cricket's more wasted talents.

The sunshine had at least been forecast at the start of play. What no-one dared predict was that the tourists would recover from 63-4 and then 136-6 to reach 304 with four wickets still in hand, leaving England so frustrated that James Anderson was seen throwing sunglasses and Graeme Swann booting his home turf.

The source of their ire was perhaps the most unexpected sub-plot of them all. Marlon Samuels has a Test record that is the definition of mediocre - 31 years old, 38 matches, an average of only 30.

His career has been more about infamy than fame - running out Brian Lara in his last ever international innings, being banned for two years for bringing the game into disrepute after a murky business with murkier bookmakers.

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West Indies show progress but England take control

Tom Fordyce | 18:49 UK time, Monday, 21 May 2012


If it started with a snick and smear and sense of panic in the murky Lord's air, it ended a few hours later in entirely contrasting fashion - runs flowing, sun shining, batsmen coasting.

England's five-wicket win on Monday afternoon might have been the result that all wise men predicted. But the way they got there has filled weary West Indian hearts with rather more optimism than most expected, and simultaneously shone a light on how this England team hope to fulfil their stated desire to become the best their country has yet produced.

When Kevin Pietersen was caught behind to reduce England to 57-4 with shine still on the ball and 134 more runs needed, thoughts went back to another Lord's run-chase, 12 years ago, when England needed just 188 to beat the same opponents and teetered on the brink several times before wriggling home by two wickets.

This is a more anodyne West Indian side, and England's more comfortable escape must be seen in that context. The pitch this week has been as true as a surveyor's sextant and as full of fright as an episode of Balamory.

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