Jonathan Agnew: Resurgent England look a team again

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
England's James Anderson and Alastair Cook
England's James Anderson and Alastair Cook celebrate a first series win in three attempts

England's emphatic victory at The Oval marked the culmination of an extraordinary turnaround that must bring great satisfaction to captain Alastair Cook and his new regime.

After all, this has been a summer unlike any I have known before. There has been a lot of angst, division and anger towards the England team.

The England and Wales Cricket Board handled the sacking of Kevin Pietersen and the fall-out from the Ashes tour so badly that a lot of genuinely-devoted England supporters felt they did not quite belong.

For the first time since the Allen Stanford affair, I came across fans who actually wanted the team to fail.

In that context, when England started the summer by losing the series to Sri Lanka and going 1-0 down to India at Lord's, the team found themselves at crisis point.

Would the meltdown continue and cost the captain his job, or could they stage a revival and justify all the upheaval?

As we all now know they did the latter, and that has to be a good thing for English cricket.

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special
"It's a disgrace to think that India were blown away in 29 overs under blue skies on a pitch that was only doing a bit. They should be embarrassed. Some of those strokes were of players who didn't want to fight for their country."

For Cook to go from the terrible troughs of Headingley and Lord's to lifting the Pataudi Trophy whilst being sprayed with champagne at a sunlit Oval represents a huge personal triumph.

I saw how low Cook was. I interviewed him twice a week and it was becoming really awkward to have to ask him the same questions about his form, the captaincy and his future.

If he had not been dropped by Ravindra Jadeja at Southampton, and if Pietersen had been playing Championship cricket and knocking out hundreds, who knows what might have happened?

Alastair Cook salutes 'almost perfect' England

But by the end of the series it really seemed as though England were a team again. They looked like 11 players who had gone through a lot but were revelling in coming out the other side.

Let's just hope that it really is the end of a divisive summer and that everyone can now get behind the team and accept that England have moved on in a new direction.

While young players like Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler all performed consistently well, the key to England's transformation was the senior players finally discovering their touch.

Cook was the one taking all the flak but he was being badly let down by some of his most trusted men. It was the bowlers who got it wrong at Headingley to let Sri Lanka off the hook, and the bowlers who wasted such a golden opportunity to skittle India out on a green-top on the first day at Lord's.

Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special
"You wonder how it's good for the game for us to miss out on two days of cricket because India have been pathetic. England played poorly at Lord's. They knew they had to bowl and bat better, and they did. England got better and India got worse."
Listen to Geoffrey and Aggers review the day's play on the TMS podcast

Once they remembered how to bowl on pitches that were always helpful to their skills, they simply blew India away.

People will point to India's pitiful efforts with the bat in the final two Tests, but that should not detract from England's achievement.

They were the ones who put India in that position and once you have a team on the ground you have to be ruthless.

The problem for the tourists was firstly that they allowed themselves to become totally distracted by the Anderson-Jadeja furore and secondly that they simply didn't have any time for players to regroup and find form between the Tests.

When you squeeze in five matches so close together, you are going to get cataclysmic results because there is no way back for a team that is on the slide.

That is something that the game's administrators will have to look at because one-sided Test matches that are over in less than three days is no good for anybody, least of all the paying public.

People will rightly be toasting England and pulling out the bunting but let's learn from this and devise a schedule that allows both teams to be mentally and physically ready for every game.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham.

Listen to Jonathan and Geoffrey Boycott review each day's play on the TMS podcast.