Joe Root helps England see the positives despite series defeat in India
In an age of highly media-trained players and ever more influential sports psychologists, there is often the sense that the same tired and supposedly morale-boosting clichés are brought out after every defeat, whether they are genuinely held beliefs or not.
The post-match declaration that a team will, ‘try to take the positives from the loss and move on’, is so frequently repeated that it has practically become a reflex action for vanquished captains, a usually meaningless morsel of management speak thrown to a hungry pack of journalists.
However as football pundits discover to their dismay when watching a match with halves of greatly differing quality, sometimes the oldest clichés happen to be wholly appropriate.
This is very much the case as far as the England cricket team are concerned because despite how things appear on paper – beaten heavily for the third time in a row and now unable to win the series – they really can take some positives away with them from their time in India so far.
Having not won a 50-over game in India for almost seven years and with a side shorn of stars such as James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott, to have broken their 14-game run of losses and challenged a vastly more experienced Indian team represents a reasonable achievement.
However perhaps the biggest positive so far for England has been the emergence of Joe Root. The Yorkshire youngster made an excellent test debut just before Christmas and he has been even more impressive on his elevation to the one-day side.
While it is obviously early in his career and sweeping hyperbole is both unjustified and unwise, it is fair to say that Root possesses a naturalness to his game that suggests he has a bright international future ahead of him.
The 22-year-old averages 66 in the series, making 132 runs so far, despite being sometimes questionably moved around in the batting order. On top of this he has also proved a useful option with the ball when needed to fill a few overs.
While England’s batting has once again been called into question, with Eoin Morgan and Craig Kieswetter unable to replicate anything like their best form, the continued excellence of Alistair Cook – despite his responsibilities as captain – is unmistakeably a good thing.
Kevin Pietersen has also demonstrated that his ‘re-integration’ to the national side is well and truly complete and has even displayed an encouraging sense of maturity and of his own responsibility to the team, most notably during his studied innings at Mohali.
There has never been any doubting of Pietersen’s phenomenal talent but from the moment he burst onto the scene, swashbuckling and skunk-haired, there have always been questions about his temperament – a situation fuelled by his penchant for controversy – so it is refreshing to see him playing a little more intelligently.
Despite all of this, there is a reason that England are 3-1 down in the series and there are undeniably aspects that they will be very keen to improve. Jade Dernbach has had a horrible time with the ball and while these are not easy conditions for fast bowlers, it may be some time before he is seen in an England shirt again.
As touched upon already, Kieswetter and Morgan have both had tours to forget with the bat, while Tim Bresnan has also struggled to make much of an impact and the decision to rest him for the upcoming tour of New Zealand looks to be a sensible one.
Not all of the bowling has been disastrous though with James Tredwell proving his worth to the side and Steven Finn adding to his burgeoning reputation – although his bail flicking follow-through problem persists.
All in all, England’s series defeat with a game still to play, is a fair reflection of things. However, whatever the result of the final match, there can be no denying that for once this is a time for them to take stock of all the positives and with a busy year ahead, move on to attempt greater achievements.
Follow the writer on twitter @thesportsfoxTagged in: Cricket, england, India, Joe Root, Kevin Pietersen
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