Isn’t it amazing how quickly people’s opinions can change when it comes to sport, and in particular our national sides?
Watching England playing any sport can be frustrating, but as a nation we seem to have little or no patience with our sports teams at all.
The rugby union team would be the most glaring example. World Cup winners in 2003, runners-up in 2007 and Six Nations winners in 2011. So going into the World Cup last year you’d think the team would have our undoubted support.
A few bad performances and a couple of iffy headlines later, we’re all berating them and they couldn’t get any worse.
So to see the England cricket team lose in humiliating circumstances in Pakistan, I’m expecting to see the press and the general public jump all over Andrew Strauss and his side.
This is totally and utterly wrong and people should remember the fact that this current England side aren’t ranked number one in the world for no reason.
Strauss has worked wonders since taking over the captaincy admidst chaos within the ECB after former captain Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores left in strange circumstances.
Winning two Ashes series, home and away, and beating the world’s former number one side India with almost nonchalent ease is no mean feat.
This cricket team is the best we’ve had for decades and might even be the best we’ve ever had.
Strauss leads the team with superb authority. He seemingly has the undoubted support of the dressing room, which always helps.
Yes, they have performed horrifically with the bat against Pakistan and have fully deserved their 3-0 whitewash defeat, but there are positives to take away, and a knee-jerk reaction would be the worst possible outcome.
I feel sorry for the bowling unit, who performed really well in all three matches on the tour.
Stuart Broad bowled superbly at times on pitches that weren’t offering much pace and bounce, while James Anderson plugged away and was unfortunate on a number of occasions.
Monty Panesar has performed well on his return to the side, he has taken wickets at regular intervals. He is a bit of a one-trick pony at times for me. His pace is usually around the 90kmph mark and he doesn’t tend to vary from it too much.
Graeme Swann was a little bit quiet for some reason. Strauss handed the ball to Panesar on more occasions than he did to the world’s best spin bowler, which is a bit odd.
But he will no doubt retain his place ahead of Monty.
It is quite clearly the batting department that will come under the greatest scrutiny.
The middle order in particular have at times looked inept with the bat and almost incapable of playing spin.
The three players likely to shoulder the majority of the blame will be Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan.
As you can well see from the statistics below, the England batsmen have performed really poorly on the tour.
Pietersen quite simply has to be in the side though. For all the times he plays a daft slog sweep
Bell has had an absolute nightmare out in Dubai. Six knocks yielding just 51 runs, 29 of those coming in one innings.
Granted, you can’t average just 8.50 from a Test series and not come under the microscope, but Bell (pictured right) is a class act and it would be a huge mistake to consider dropping him at the moment.
I think the player in greatest danger of being dropped is number six Eoin Morgan.
If any player should lose their place in the batting line-up then Morgan is that man.
But I would throw my weight behind the hard-hitting left-hander. He is superb on his day and quite simply, I don’t think we have a better alternative out there at the moment anyway.
The obvious options that spring to mind are Michael Carberry, Alex Hales, Ravi Bopara and Yorkshire’s Jonathan Bairstow.
None of these have the charisma and composure that Morgan exudes. Granted, Hales and Bairstow are exciting prospects, but I don’t think they’re ready to fill Morgan’s boots just yet.
As a batting unit, England relied to heavily on Matt Prior, Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook for the few runs they did manage to amass. But there is no need to lose faith in the team that has propelled England to the summit of Test cricket.
The team face a huge and testing 2012 and will need to improve massively to stay on their perch at the top of the Test game. I would keep the faith with the same 11 and give them the chance show why they are the best team in the world.
l Who would you pick in your England XI after the 3-0 defeat? Tweet your XI to me @mrdanielgregory