We don’t have any amazing insights into this, in the unlikely event that that’s why you visit this website. However, what we will say is that it is a measure of England’s progress that we English are being forced to search for new goals.
For pretty much our entire life, English cricket’s goal has been to win the Ashes. Every two years, that wouldn’t happen. Then it did. Then it happened a second time and the goal became to win the Ashes in Australia. Then that happened, so we nervously aimed for number one.
The best Test team
Being ranked number one Test nation is a particularly big achievement for England, because it rewards qualities they have rarely had. They have needed to win regularly and they have needed to be dominant. The 2004-05 vintage team almost managed the former, but never achieved the latter – it was always seat-of-the-pants stuff, which was entertaining, but not nearly so convincing.
Dominance forms a major part of the new goal. England are now aiming for a stint at the top, correctly recognising that would be more meaningful than a momentary summit. They should be aiming to open a gap such that they could have a wobble and still technically remain number one. That’s what Australia managed.
Not the best cricket team
The other thing that Australia managed was complete dominance. As well as being the number one Test team, they were also world champions in the one-day game and actually racked up three titles in a row. They were simply the best cricket team. England are a million miles away from being the best one-day team of the moment, let alone maintaining that for a period of a decade or more.
There’s plenty to be done and no guarantees they’ll achieve any of it. No-one seems to acknowledge the fragility of a situation where so many good players are so fit, so determined, so knowledgeable, so ruthless, so well-prepared and so committed to the team’s collective aims. It is an absolute luxury. People complaining about the speed of Alastair Cook’s batting and stuff like that remind us of this.
There have been times in the past where we’d have settled for the England team exhibiting just one of the attributes we just listed, so we’re enjoying every minute of watching this Test team while this lasts. Complaints about their ruthlessness in this series or any other will fall on ears that have been deafened by the booing from all those years gone by.