Chris Waters: England must forget quickly their troubled winter tours

England's Joe Root, on a miserable winter for the national team.

England's Joe Root, on a miserable winter for the national team.

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AS we reflect on England’s winter tours to the subcontinent, let us start with the good news.

They won the one-day series in Bangladesh.

Hooray.

Now let us move on to the bad news.

A draw against the same opponents in the Tests, followed by defeat in the Test, one-day and T20 series in India, made it a winter to forget for the national side.

In all international fixtures combined, England lost 10-5 with one draw.

Were they a football team, their five results of 1-1, 2-1, 0-4, 1-2 and 1-2 might leave them in or around the relegation zone.

For all that cricket is becoming more and more like football, however, there will be no bloodletting on the carpet at Lord’s.

Losing a Test to Bangladesh was pretty embarrassing – the collapse of 10-64 in the final session in Dhaka even more so.

But no one gave England much of a chance in India, where home advantage predictably did for Alastair Cook’s Test team and then for Eoin Morgan’s white-ball sides.

India were too strong in their own conditions, where England struggled on the spin-friendly pitches against a side led by the inspired Virat Kohli.

Ah, Kohli...

More than anyone, the India captain dominated the winter like the cricketing equivalent of a sharp frost.

His performance in the Test series was almost preternatural, the 28-year-old laying strong claim to being the world’s No 1 batsman.

After England had the better of the drawn first Test in Rajkot, the proverbial false dawn, Kohli helped inspire four straight wins.

His scores in the series were 40, 49*, 167, 81, 62, 6, 235 and 15, giving him 655 runs at 109.16.

In the white-ball matches, he chipped in with 122, 8, 55, 29, 21 and 2.

Kohli now averages over 50 in all three formats of international cricket.

Not only masterful, but multi-dimensional.

It was not so much the fact that England lost the four Tests in India that was disappointing, but the margin of the defeats: 246 runs, eight wickets, an innings and 36 runs, and an innings and 75 runs.

In anyone’s book, that represents a caning.

Statistically, though, a number of players did reasonably well.

Joe Root, for instance, was the second-highest run-scorer in the series with 491 at 49.1, but he would have been disappointed to have made only one hundred and he was not quite able to influence games in the way he had hoped.

Five of the top-eight run-scorers, indeed, were Englishmen, while Adil Rashid’s haul of 23 wickets made him the third-highest wicket-taker behind India’s Ravi Ashwin (28) and Ravi Jadeja (26).

Collectively, though, England were no match for India’s spin twins and the broad bat of Kohli, with the scoreline reflecting the gulf in class.

Following on from the one-day series win in Bangladesh, England fought hard in the one-day games against India only for their bowling to come up short.

In the T20 matches it was a different story; England bowled better and, with the series tied at 1-1, it was their batting that let them down in the deciding match.

A collapse of 8-8 in 19 balls made the Dhaka debacle seem like a minor hiccough.

It was certainly grim viewing for England’s supporters, although T20 games have a habit of taking dramatic twists, particularly when run-rates soar and batsmen, consequently, have to take risks.

In the final analysis, England’s winter was fairly wretched – as bad as anything in recent times, in fact,

And yet there is not that same doom-and-gloom feel that there has been in the past.

England should still go to Australia next winter, for example, and give a good account of themselves in the Ashes.

Their one-day cricket has been good for some time, and they will be strongly fancied to do well in the Champions Trophy later this year.

Not many teams go to the sub-continent and achieve success in alien conditions, just as India are hardly world-beaters away from home.

England will not look back on their 2016-17 winter with any fondness, but nor will they dwell on it unduly.

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