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Ali’s spin among 5 huge pluses England can take into 4th Test

| 03.08.2014

England ended 12 months of gloomy despair with an illuminating 266-run victory over India in the Third Test at the Rose Bowl to level the five-match series and, looking ahead to Old Trafford, there’s much to excite cricket fans going forward.

Unsurprisingly, an unchanged 13-man squad will go on to Manchester for the fourth Test where England are the slight 6/4 favourites to take a lead in the series, India are 5/2 shots with the draw also deemed a 6/4 chance.

England finally have a spinner they believe in again

Moeen Ali, remember the name. England’s second-innings hero put on an off-spin masterclass in Southampton. The Worcestershire twizzler plugged away for his two rather fortunate wickets in the first innings, before harnessing the dusty conditions on day five with a beautiful variation of flight, pace and length to skittle out the bamboozled Indians.

The senior bowlers can still deliver the goods

Man-of-the-match James Anderson will be a huge loss at his home ground if he ends up being banned for misconduct. However, England fans should at least revel in Jimmy’s best performance with the ball in a year. The Lancs seamer bowled with aggression and India’s batsmen simply could not handle the fact he was able to swing it both ways all-match long. Stuart Broad may have only picked up three himself, but he applied concerted pressure from the other end to help his old pal.

Alastair Cook is back among the runs

Cook responded to the most pressurised innings of his England career as captain by finally rectifying his dangling-bat syndrome to construct 95 and 70 not out. It was no accident that the first England win in 10 Tests coincided with runs from the skipper.

The England team finally have Ballance

Gary Ballance has made the transition to Test cricket as if he was already one of the world’s top bats. Another beautifully constructed innings of 156 – his third ton in his last five Tests – to go with two other scores over 50 this summer is a remarkable start to his England career.

Jos Buttler was terrific at both jobs on debut

It was a dream Test debut for Lancashire’s wicket-keeper. Buttler made the most of the scenario he walked into during the first innings to smash his way to 85 in typically flamboyant style, but his keeping was virtually faultless also. Buttler made all six chances stick, just one shy of the record amount of catches for a keeper’s Test debut.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.