It was maginificent to see the lads back on track in the 3rd Test at Southampton.
I’ve been saying all along that as soon as Cook gets runs, the team gets runs. Considering the pressure he's been under, it was a special performance.
Cook is so important to this England team. He sets the foundations and it’s like a chain reaction - as soon as you get runs from the top, it can all lead from there. And at the Rose Bowl, once the skipper set the tone, the team put in a near perfect performance.
Cook took all the shine off the new ball and scored enough runs that his confidence permeated through the whole team. His performance allowed the rest of the team to express themselves and play without fear. Less pressure, a better wicket and suddenly the team has 450 or 500. It really was great to see.
Jos Buttler came in and did really well on debut, not just with the gloves but with the bat too. With plenty of runs on the board from the top, he was able to go out and express himself and play his natural game.
If you’re an aggressive player like Jos, you don’t want to have to fight against the tide so I’m glad he went in and was able to take advantage of the situation and play really well.
Moeen Ali - A Spinning Star Was Born
What can I say? This guy was awesome!
Mo has had to put up with a lot of questions surrounding whether he should be in the team or not, but he bowled really nicely at the Rose Bowl. We've been wondering where a genuine spin option was going to come from, but he thrust himself forward with a fine performance.
England will hope he can keep it up. It’s all about consistency and he’s started to show that he could be a real weapon for England in the long term.
I believe Ali has got the basic ingredients to become England’s main spinner and I see no reason why he can’t go on to play a lot of Test cricket bowling off-spin. He just needs to stick at it, as he has the tools to be a permanent fixture.
Return of Steven Finn
I’m really pleased to see Finny back in the fold for the 4th Test. He’s a brilliant guy to have in the dressing room and I was devastated for him last winter when he lost his form. But now he looks back to his best at County level and really deserves his recall this week.
It's not a kneejerk decision: He’s earned his way back in because he’s bowled really well for a sustained period of time and is deservedly back in the fold. What a hero!
No Sharma for the Tourists
With 7 wickets in the 2nd Test at Lord's, Ishant Sharma proved to be a real thorn in England's side. But he's now struggling with injury, which made India's attack clearly weaker without him at the Rose Bowl. It will be the same at Old Trafford as he's not been passed fit. He will be a big miss for India again.
Conditions at Old Trafford
Looking ahead to the 4th Test, I'm hearing reports that the conditions will suit England because it'll be hard and bouncy at Old Trafford. But in reality, there aren’t too many hard and bouncy wickets in the world these days, so. I'll believe it when I see it!
That said, I still fancy the hosts to take this Test Match, with Jimmy Anderson starring on his home track.
Outlook for England
Things are looking considerably brighter for England now they've levelled it up, and they’ll be confident that they can go on and win the series. The captain knows how to build on the good feelings from the last match and I believe they've really turned the corner.
I've been in that dressing room when momentum is flowing and you feel like you have the recipe for success. It’s like baking a cake: big total, bowl them out, tire them out, then knock ‘em out. Game on!
Swannny's Top Tips
England to win the 4th Test at odds of 2.25
Top 1st innings batsman for England:Alastair Cook at odds of 9.50
Top bowler for England: Moeen Ali at odds of 14.00
Man of the match: Moeen Ali at odds of 17.00
Bet on the 4th England v India Test now.