x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Five lessons to learn from England's cricketing summer

The English cricket summer finished blemish free last night, six months after, and 5,500 kilometres away from, its start in Abu Dhabi.

The English cricket summer finished last night, six months after, and 5,500 kilometres away from, its start. It has been blemish free for the outstanding national team, and a number of lessons were learnt, too.

1. Abu Dhabi is the only place for a March start.

The domestic season began so early, April showers had not even started. Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium has become a cricket laboratory since it forged an association with MCC.

Switching the season-opening fixture from Lord's to the UAE capital has plenty of merits, chief of which is warding off frostbite.

2. Ian Bell has come of age.

There was a danger Bell's golden summer was going to be remembered solely for his reprieve after a dozy run out. Then he made a glorious 235 at The Oval. There is no better batsman in Test cricket at present.

3. Test cricket is feast or famine.

When England used to be bad, they were horrid. Now they are good, they seem untouchable.

The 4-0 whitewash of India, who arrived as the world's No 1 side, shows Test cricket is throwing up too many lopsided matches.

4. Stuart Broad is an all-rounder of substance.

Broad's place was under threat as the summer began. Back-to-back match-winning displays against India, including a hat-trick in his home Trent Bridge Test, ended that debate. Whether he is captaincy material is another matter.

5. Sir Allen Stanford is not easily forgotten.

Why did England play two pointless Twenty20 games against the West Indies? Let them have a proper break and put the Stanford debacle down to experience.