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England Are Winning Against India in Spite of the System Not Because of It

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21:  England captain Alastair Cook after losing the 2nd Investec Test match between England and India at Lord's Cricket Ground on July 21, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Freddie WildeContributor INovember 17, 2016

It is strange to think that exactly a year ago, as England recorded their 3-0 series victory over Australia, it was widely concluded England were winning because of the system behind them. Their planning, their efficiency, the elevation of their mean, their coaching, their succession-planning, their attention to detail.

Now, a long and tumultuous year later, as England stand on the brink of a remarkable 3-1 series victory against India, it can confidently be assessed that they are winning largely in spite of their system and not because of it. 

England have won two Test matches. They've played good cricket. Alastair Cook has scored some runs; he's been rewarded for trusting Moeen Ali as a spinner. Gary Ballance looks assured at No. 3. Ian Bell has found form. Jos Buttler seems at home in Test cricket. James Anderson and Stuart Broad look back to their best, while Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes have shown promise.

England had some luck in Southampton, and India have been truly awful, but England have still had to beat them. And beat them they have. Indeed, these two Test victories have offered encouragement and reason for optimism. 

However, that England have won two Test matches does not change that Andy Flower was not sacked following England's Ashes whitewash; he was promoted.

That England have won two Test matches does not change that Flower was replaced by his predecessor, a man deemed inadequate by many, Peter Moores.

That England have won two Test matches does not change the fact that England's team stopped being a meritocracy when Kevin Pietersen was sacked for little more than expressing concern with the direction Cook, Flower and the ECB wanted to take the team.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 06:  Kevin Pietersen of Surrey in the field during the NatWest T20 Blast match between Surrey and Essex Eagles at The Kia Oval on June 6, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

That England have won two Test matches does not change the fact that in a statement the ECB referred to England fans as "people outside cricket". 

That England have won two Test matches does not change the fact that the ECB referred an unfavourable article to the Press Complaints Commission.

That England have won two Test matches does not change the fact that Cook's family was seen as justification for his position as captain by the most powerful man in English cricket, Giles Clarke. 

That England have won two Test matches does not change the fact that Buttler, a man deemed not ready for Test cricket two months ago by Cook, has since been selected twice and scored two fifties.

That England have won two Test matches does not change the fact that Cook has not shown himself to be  a tactician, he hasn't led by example and doesn't appear to be a leader of men.

That England have won two Test matches does not change the fact that former England captains, Michael Atherton, Ian Botham, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan have all said, at some stage, that Cook should resign as captain. 

On Monday, Michael Vaughan backtracked on that statement. He shouldn't have.

If England win the Ashes next summer, that's when we, they, I, should and will admit to being wrong about Alastair Cook and the ECB, because, despite what Peter Moores may claim, two wins against an awful Indian side changes none of the alarming decisions and statements that the ECB have made since January. 

Until then, I'm more than happy to remain outside of cricket.

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