December 9, 2023

England’s record-chasing against India there was one of the best victories I’ve seen during my time as a Test Match Special Commentator.

India are a strong team, so it is astonishing that England managed 378 – their highest chase in the Tests and fourth of over 275 in a row this summer – and painted the re-arranged series 2-2.

There are some caveats as India was missing some players, with captain Rohit Sharma unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19 in the week prior to the test, while teammate KL Rahul had a sports hernia.

They also had a bit of preparation with just a four-day game against Leicestershire as a warm-up, with this test rearranged from September last year, as a result of Covid in the Tour party.

You have to put all of this into discussion to balance it out, but India has one of the best bowling attacks in the world and they have good batsmen.

For England to be able to attack like they did, it really makes this very remarkable.

They were able to put pressure back on the bowlers and put this achievement at the top of the list.

The Ashes’ 2019 win at Headingley, where Ben Stokes crashes 135 unbeaten while Jack Leach 76 times on the last wicket, was clearly more dramatic than this.

But scoring that many runs to win a test match doesn’t happen often – this was the ninth biggest chase in the game’s history.

The fact that they were able to score points so easily and so quickly – at 4.93 crosses – with just three wickets is quite remarkable.

The pitch behaved perfectly and there were very few rogue deliveries, but the way England attacked the target was an extraordinary display of confidence.

That’s what amazes me about the way they’re playing at the moment.

They were a team that had absolutely no confidence in the winter – they were beaten 4-0 from Australia in the ashes And the Lost 1-0 to West Indies In March – the same individuals who play largely.

What Brendon McCollum did is exactly what we hoped he’d do. He was able to capture these same players and erase recent painful memories.

They have all lost the fear of failure and there is no longer a feeling that defeat is inevitable.

He’s been able to do it all from the start and that’s exceptional.

As a player, when you feel like you’ve had that support from the coach, management and selectors – and you know you won’t be disqualified for playing this way – it unleashes your attacking potential. It is very exciting.

We saw it the way opening player Alex Lees played – it surprised me. He wouldn’t normally play a free-flowing offensive game for four or five days.

Seeing him hit the third ball on the field and Mohammed Al Shami hoists the middle of the wicket for four and then takes the attack to Ravindra Jadeja, who was throwing the hard ball, his style represents a change of situation.

Zach Crowley was able to take his time as a result and he definitely benefited.

Interestingly enough, the chase was essentially a ball-running game except for the third fiftieth, where England scored a goal closer to running every two balls.

That was when Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow first met each other after England lost three wickets in two rounds and it showed there was a necessity, even with the way they play, to take your time and get yourself. This removes any criticism for recklessness.

England has now embarked on this new journey. When Stokes and McCullum first took their job, it was about stopping this huge tanker that was spinning out of control in the English Channel – they had to stop it, turn it and steer it in the right direction. They did more than that – it’s a full forward stream, which is great.

It won’t always be this way, they’ll have to adapt, and I’m sure they will.

I expect England to prepare for the three Test series against South Africa in August, pick the same team and keep going.

They will expect to be treated exactly the same way.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport’s Callum Matthews.

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