What the papers say: Oval aftermath
Alastair Cook's proverbial bacon has been saved, England's Ashes drubbing has conveniently been resigned to the past, India's inadequacies are several – and more.
<b>Vic Marks, of The Guardian, is happy to resign England's Ashes drubbing to the past:</b> 'India have performed so lamentably since their victory at Lord's that it is hard to gauge the scale of England's improvement. At The Oval and at Old Trafford the impression was that Derbyshire would have rolled the batsmen over without much resistance.
'But improvement there has been within the England camp. It has, perhaps, been most visible in their out-cricket, which has become as sharp as the Sunday lunchtime mustard.
'So here was a swift and jubilant end to a strange summer of Test cricket in which the post-Ashes angst was suddenly swept away by three massive victories. As well as joy this brings puzzlement – not just about the true worth of this new England team. In the brave new world of the Big Three India were one of the parties expected to maintain and enhance the status of Test cricket. With performances like these their players are doing the opposite.'
<b>The Independent's Stephen Brenkley breathes a huge sigh of relief on Alastair Cook's behalf:</b> 'The siren calls which demanded Cook's dismissal or resignation after Lord's have been extinguished. Former captains have been forced to admit they were premature or wrong, but it is perhaps important to indicate that they did not necessarily seem misguided at the time.
'Cook's form has returned, with three fifties in four innings but a 26th Test hundred still eludes him. He now has to wait for a chance to end that particular drought until next April, when England play their next Test series in the West Indies. Do not suppose that his deserved elation at yesterday's victory was not accompanied by a frisson of wonder about when the next century will arrive.
'This stunning turnaround only enhances the rich promise of next year's Ashes series. No one in the England dressing room will make the mistake of assuming that Australia are now quivering in their boots but equally Australia will not err on the side of thinking that their triumph is a formality.'
<b>Paul Newman, in The Daily Mail, lauds England's senior players for coming to the proverbial party:</b> 'How to explain it? Yes, India have been terrible but it would be wrong to take anything away from England. There had been near misses and promise all season, as there will be with any virtually new side, but from Southampton onwards the senior spine delivered the goods and that made all the difference.
'Now they are looking like a team again, one with the perfect mix of exciting emerging players and experienced ones at the top of their game. Certainly Anderson and Broad now seem as potent as any new-ball pairing in England's history while Ian Bell has finally become a leader rather than follower.
'Then there is the captain. Few England skippers can have suffered as much opprobrium as Cook when the bitter post-Ashes aftermath threatened to engulf him. He was close to packing it all in after the fourth day against Sri Lanka at Headingley when he had a nightmare in the field but, after vowing not to be a quitter, he has shown immense character in fighting back. One tough Cookie indeed.'
<b>The Telegraph's Jonathan Liew reckons a very busy schedule caught up with India:</b> 'The modern Test series, with its scant preparation time, relentless pace and back-to-back marathons, exaggerates disparities in class and confidence, putting the away side at a distinct disadvantage. Just ask the West Indies this November, when they play successive Tests in Bangalore and Ahmedabad – 900 miles apart – with just three days' rest.
'Of course, it would be easy to blame greedy national boards or demanding television companies or the Indian Premier League for all this. But the truth is that the status quo suits everyone, including the players. Tours of three or four months are becoming increasingly unacceptable, especially to those with families. Players want to be in and out as expediently as possible. The England and Wales Cricket Board strives to ensure that overseas tours do not straddle Christmas. Test cricket's great squeeze looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.
'The upshot of all this is hard to judge. What is at stake, though, is not merely the tribulations of one team, but the very character of Test cricket as we know it. Big tours and big series between big nations pay the bills and get the turnstiles clicking. But if this is the quality of the product that is served up as a result, it is hard not to imagine that the clock may be ticking.'
<b>In the Times of India, Jamie Alter highlights India's several inadequacies:</b> 'A team's mood can be assessed by their work as a unit. Sadly, the distance between England and India is worse than the 3-1 series result shows. England held their catches, some of which were one-handed blinders and others that needed two sets of hands. England's attack has been relentless, but truth be told, India's batsmen, MS Dhoni excluded, have been sitting ducks. For the skilled pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad it's really been just turn up, pitch it up and Bob's your uncle. India's batsmen haven't been able to counter Anderson and Broad's probing lines or movements. Their judgment has been clouded. Their confidence is battered. Their failures have left too much for a muddled bowling attack to make up for. The catching has only added to the hurt.
'The series outcome shows that India's deficiencies cannot be covered unless their limited-overs heroes take more responsibility and carry the team. It is that simple. Until then, Indian cricket fans will continue to say <i>ata majhi satakli</i>.'
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