Cow Corner

The story of England’s schizophrenic winter in numbers

Cow Corner

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No-one wins on the sub-continent.

No-one fails to win in New Zealand.

Except England.

It has been a topsy turvy winter with popular logic reversed. Captain Alastair Cook said a first Test series win in India in 27 years was on a par with the Ashes triumph of 2010-11.

But England's failure to win in New Zealand is almost as disappointing and certainly the worst tour since they contrived to lose a series to a West Indies side in 1999 with Devon Smith and Lendl Simmons opening the batting (mainly due to a crazy day in Jamaica when they were bowled out for 51 and lost the first Test).

Thanks to Matt Prior, and Monty Panesar's penultimate-over stage dive in Auckland, England stay second in the ICC rankings - but no-one understands that, so what does it really mean?

In real terms it means England's record now stands at eight wins, three draws and two losses in a system far too simple for the ICC to integrate: most recent Test series results against the other major Test playing nations.

With the only losses, outside that Calypso crap-a-rama, coming in Sharjah and at home to South Africa last year.

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Cowers has crunched the numbers and combined the averages for both winter series.

Even though by their own very high standards, Cook, Trott, Pietersen and Bell were below-par in New Zealand, they still averaged over 40 for the winter.

If fit, all four will play all 10 Ashes Tests while Prior is the world's outstanding keeper-batsman without the initials AB.

As for the other two spots, there are still question marks (but comfortably less than Australia) and Nick Compton and Joe Root look destined to get another chance in the home series against the Kiwis.

Time at the crease, more than a glut of runs, indicate some hope for the future but if they fail early on then who is the next cab on the rank?

Jonny Bairstow has boosted James Taylor's immediate Test cricket hopes with his sub-par winter and the words 'Ravi' and 'Bopara' were even mentioned in Auckland (albeit after 12 pints).

If Samit Patel plays this summer, then Cow Corner will change his name to Aftab Habib.

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Of the bowlers, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar proved they could bowl together in India, and then in New Zealand, we all realised how much Swann is missed on tracks that have as much deviation as the M4.

Monty continues to bowl too quick and is scared of giving the ball flight on flat tracks. England badly need Swann fit for the Ashes for containment.

Jimmy Anderson was slightly off-key in NZ but is still the leader of the attack, while there are question marks about Steve Finn and Stuart Broad, who failed to get the weight of wickets you would expect.

As a by-product of Swann's injury, Finn almost became a stock bowler in New Zealand and that is certainly not his role while Broad's figures are flattered by a six-for in Wellington - and as Sir Geoffrey of Boycott said in Auckland, "his batting now resembles a giraffe splaying its legs to bend down for a drink."

If fit, Chris Tremlett could come back into the mix this summer.

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So what happens now? No doubt Peter Fulton will bag a pair as England beat the Kiwis 2-0 in the home series, then we'll wonder what the point of the Champions Trophy is and we'll wake up on July 10 at Trent Bridge excited about the Ashes.

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