Best-laid plans bring rewards for England
Stuart Broad said good planning and preparation was the key to England's series whitewash of India.
England wrapped up a 4-0 win at The Oval Monday with an innings and eight-run victory, putting the gloss on their rise to the top of the International Cricket Council world Test rankings.
Broad was nominated as the hosts' player of the series by the India camp and the Nottinghamshire all-rounder believes the England attack was simply putting into practice the preparations set out by Andrew Strauss, the captain, and Andy Flower, the coach.
"We have worked well together, [Graeme] Swann has bowled very well on this wicket and we have all bowled to a plan throughout the series. It has been very rewarding," Broad said.
"They have a powerful batting line-up, but we set pretty clear plans at the start of the series on how we wanted to bowl - slightly fuller lengths with the odd bouncer - and the wickets we have played on have allowed that. The plans have worked and we are delighted with the results."
Strauss was delighted that England could cap a wonderful summer with another emphatic success. He said: "It was an outstanding effort again, enforcing the follow-on asked a lot of the bowlers, and they responded superbly.
"It was Swann's turn to take wickets today, but he was well supported by the seamers. The 200 that Ian Bell scored was certainly the best innings I've seen him play and set up this win for us."
Sachin Tendulkar, who fell nine runs short of his hundredth Test 100, and Amit Mishra dug in to frustrate England either side of lunch Monday before Swann, who claimed six for 106, made the breakthrough before running through the tail.
Strauss said: "We still knew there was a lot of time left. The last 40 overs before the new ball were quite hard work, Tendulkar and Mishra played pretty well but there were a few half-chances."
Bell's 235 was pivotal to England making a mammoth 591 for six, and the Warwickshire batsman relished in the opportunity to move up to No 3 in the absence of the injured Jonathan Trott.
Bell said: "I really enjoyed the opportunity to step up and have a go, but we have a really good squad and that's been our strength for a long time. I am still desperate to improve, like the rest of the guys, we are all looking to improve."
Flower likened the post-match celebrations to those following his side's Ashes victory two years ago, and said: "These are brilliant moments. We like listening to [Jerusalem] before each day's play and to have it while they're doing a lap of honour is very special.
"It reminds me of the Ashes in 2009, there's a similar atmosphere. The Ashes are special for their own reasons, and for the importance the English public and the Australian public give to it, but it's also something special to be playing India."
On the work which has gone into his side's ascent to the pinnacle of the Test rankings, Flower said: "The players have worked extraordinarily hard to get their skills and their conditioning up, and [when] they walk over that boundary rope and make good decisions under pressure. Also really good leadership from Strauss and really good work by Graham Gooch [the batting coach] and some of our support staff, you can see that in some big scores and the fielding standards."
India's outstanding performer throughout the series was Rahul Dravid, who made a first innings 146 at The Oval. He admitted the tourists had been comprehensively outplayed over the four games.
"England are deservedly No 1 in the world, they played well in the series, they outplayed us. We expected a tough series ... but we thought we would play a bit better."
MS Dhoni, the India captain, said: "We tried our best and that's what's important. At times you can be outplayed at the top level and that was the case in this series."
As for the future, he said: "It's about the team rising to the occasion together. That's the way ahead. We are not willing to surrender and we hope the coming years will be good."
Published: August 23, 2011 04:00 AM