What the papers say about England's series win

Such was the all-round nature of England's series victory against India, that the pundits all had different things to talk about. It was a veritable opinion smorgasbord following the final Test in Nagpur.

Such was the all-round nature of England's series victory against India, that the pundits all had different things to talk about. It was a veritable opinion smorgasbord following the final Test in Nagpur.

<i>The Guardian</i>'s <b>Mike Selvey</b> praised England's ability to adapt to spin, and hailed the win as one of their best in recent memory, writing: "Placing this win in the pantheon of England successes abroad is not easy. Hyperbole can take over in the understandable euphoria of the moment. But it must surely rank with their best of modern times."

He added: "But it is the back story that makes this such a special victory for them. A year ago, England were being trounced by India in a one-day series by five matches to nil, on turning pitches.

"At the start of the year, against Pakistan in the UAE, they contrived to be whitewashed in a three-match Test series, the batsmen hapless against Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman. Finally in Galle, they lost the first match of a two-match series, with desperate batting once more.

"It brings a positive end to an underachieving year for England but one which may now be viewed as transitional."

<b>James Lawton</b> in the <i>Independent</i> was full of praise for skipper Alastair Cook, writing: "Cook not only hoarded runs, he grew before our eyes as a captain of instant gravitas. How this impression holds up in the coming Ashes collisions may not be the least fascination of the future, but rarely has the dual challenge of leadership and the maintenance of a new captain's own game been met so impressively."

He continued: "It was the tour of Captain Cook, the time when he came of age not only as a leader of immense promise but a Test cricketer of the first rank. His predecessor Andrew Strauss could hardly have set a better tone, a more enduring example, but Cook's achievement is to make it look like a seamless transition."

Former England captain <b>Mike Atherton</b> was impressed with the way England's senior players made their mark and helped Cook lead the side, writing in <i>The Times</i>: "A team are only as strong as their group of senior players, who ought to lead by example on and off the field – setting standards of behaviour, discipline, commitment and excellence – and in Matt Prior, Kevin Pietersen, Swann and Anderson, Cook was blessed.

"Prior batted beautifully (258 runs at 51.60) and chivvied effectively in the field; Pietersen played the innings of the tour in Mumbai, which finished off Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin as serious threats; Anderson was outstanding, and Swann was the joint leading wicket-taker in the series with Ojha, taking 20 at 24.75, and enjoying a fruitful and, for the first time, successful partnership with Monty Panesar."

Another former skipper, <b>Nasser Hussain</b>, praised England's lack of sentiment, both with their own players and with India's, writing in the <i>Daily Mail</i>: "Tim Bresnan has been a very good cricketer for England but as soon as Cook and Andy Flower realised they had made a mistake in not picking Monty Panesar for the first Test the Yorkshireman was gone.

"Stuart Broad was England's vice-captain and one of the leading wicket-takers in world cricket in 2012 but when he had two poor Tests and England knew they had to get a fit-again Steven Finn in the side, Broad was also gone.

"Samit Patel had not done too much wrong but once it became clear that his bowling was not going to be required with Panesar in the team England took one look at him and said: 'He's not one of our best six batsmen.'"

<b>Scyld Berry</b>, of the <i>Telegraph</i>, wrote about James Anderson's impact, and highlighted India's lack of pace as a key failing, saying: "Mahendra Singh Dhoni was right to single out James Anderson as the biggest difference between the two countries.

"Once Anderson fired in Calcutta, India were never going to win. After a slow start he finished with as many wickets, 12, as all of India's pace bowlers put together.

"This current state of affairs, however, is India's norm. The country has seldom had quick bowlers. Only six Indian pace bowlers have ever taken 100 Test wickets and one of them bowled spin some of the time, Karsan Ghavri."

He continued: "What took India to No 1 in the world Test rankings a couple of years ago was not their truly great batting line-up. For almost the only time since independence they had a fine pace bowler at each end, taking early wickets so middle-order batsmen came in against spin with fielders crowding the bat."

The <i>BBC</i>'s <b>Jonathan Agnew</b> warned of complacency, saying that India were not at their best, and that the Ashes could well be a tougher test if the Aussies also defeat India: "They (England) preyed on India's insecurities, but we must also be mindful that the hosts played poorly.

"They have got a number of issues to address following this series – like the futures of their star player, Sachin Tendulkar, their captain Mahendra Dhoni and their coach Duncan Fletcher.

"Australia visit India early in 2013 and that will be a fascinating contest because we will see how they respond, and also what Australia have got because this will have been a wake-up call for them too."