England's domination becoming almost predictable

Once a word used to deride England's cricketers, "predictable" is fast becoming a badge of honour that...

Sachin Tendulkar (C) walks off the pitch after losing his wicket to England's James Anderson (R) during day five, the last day, of the 1st test match on July 25, 2011. Picture: AFP

Once a word used

to deride England's cricketers, "predictable" is fast becoming a badge

of honour that captain Andrew Strauss and his squad can wear with pride.

Two crushing test victories

over India, the second coming in a rush of wickets at Trent Bridge on

Monday, have put England on the brink of the top ranking in the five-day

format of the game and talk of "domination" is in the air.

While

there have been many false dawns, the momentous 2005 Ashes win over

Australia being one of them, the riches available to Strauss and manager

Andy Flower suggest the D word is not out of place.

In

fast bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett and

off-spinner Graeme Swann, England have an attack full of potency while

Tim Bresnan showed in taking five wickets to skittle India for 158 that

Strauss has the kind of back-up options that are the envy of the world.

What

India would have done for a bowler of Bresnan's quality as they toiled

in the heat with the game slipping away from them on Sunday afternoon.

Wicketkeeper

Matt Prior has improved beyond measure with the gloves and his batting

is now approaching the heights reached by great Australian Adam

Gilchrist in the all-conquering sides captained by Steve Waugh and Ricky

Ponting.

Although openers Strauss

and Alastair Cook are struggling for runs, the batting order rarely

collapses like a house of cards these days and the tailenders regularly

score heavily.

Bresnan and Broad

contributed 209 runs to England's cause at Trent Bridge, a key factor in

the 319-run victory which left the hosts 2-0 up and top-ranked India

staring at a demoralising rout.

COMMON CAUSE

Kevin

Pietersen has put his ego to one side and emerged as a batsman who can

dig in for the common cause while Ian Bell, with a test average of 47,

is world class.

Comparisons with

the swaggering Australian teams for whom victory was almost a

pre-requisite are not misplaced, especially when considering the fringe

players who have proved consistently that they can come in and feed off

the confidence within the ranks.

England

have won seven of their last eight test series. That should soon become

eight from nine and although matching the domination of Australia, who

between 2000 and 2008 lost just two series, is unlikely, they certainly

look like the team to be measured against for the forseeable future.

It

is all a far cry from the days of tortoise-like scoring rates followed

by rapid collapses, scatter-gun bowling and sloppy fielding which drew

scorn from Down Under.

Shane Warne, once the tormentor of England's batsman, sees many similarities with the Australian sides he played in.

"When

Australia were on top and dominating world cricket, the things we

wanted to do were score fast, take the game away from the opposition and

intimidate the tail," Warne wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday.

"England are doing all those things and showing the qualities that will make them No. 1."

Warne

said there were no obvious weaknesses in England's squad and like

Australia of old, someone would make runs or take wickets at the

important moments.

"England are not carrying anyone," he said. "When you become No.1 side in the world it is all about depth."

Former England captain Nasser Hussain heaped praise on Strauss's team.

"There

is just no weak link," he said. "They are the best England team I have

ever seen. They are an amazing set of players....I think England are now

realising that they are embarking on what might become a very special

journey."