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‘Don’t get lost in Bazball – England must improve individually’

Sky Sports Cricket expert Nasser Hussain reflects on England’s 4-1 series defeat in India, with the tourists trounced by an innings and 64 runs in Dharamsala after two batting collapses.

The former England captain explains why Bazball and pitches cannot be blamed, as he hails a depleted India side for securing a 17th successive series win on home turf.

The final Test was like the old-school England in India in the last decade or so – it was a very one-sided affair.

They were 100-1 on the first morning having won the toss, so to lose so comfortably inside three days was a capitulation – but they had their chances in the series.

In the third Test, England were in a position to try and get close to India but didn’t and once you give them a lead then you are chasing the game. They had their chances in the fourth Test as well.

I know they came back to win the first Test in Hyderabad due to the brilliance of Ollie Pope with the bat and Tom Hartley with the ball but there are only rare occurrences in India where you can turn it around.

The batting collapses will be the main issue from this tour. There have been so many occasions where they have got off to decent starts and the middle order has then collapsed.

[The latest collapse] highlights this line-up’s ability of playing spin. They aren’t good enough defensively so there is only one option, which is to be aggressive and it’s too hard against top-quality bowling.

Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook, on TNT Sports

It can happen in India but the pitches in this series have been brilliant so England can have no complaints about that. Plus, they won three tosses out of five.

They will look at those collapses and say, ‘what could we have done differently in those positions to make sure it doesn’t happen again?’ because it did happen again.

England Test series in India 2024 – full results

‘Focus on individual performances, not Bazball’

There is too much said and written about Bazball. We get lost in that term and the team do not like it.

It is about individual performances in those conditions.

England's Jonny Bairstow (Associated Press)
Image: England’s Jonny Bairstow made double figures eight times out of 10 against India but failed to reach 40

The reason James Anderson, who took his 700th wicket in the Test, and Ravichandran Ashwin, who took nine wickets in his 100th Test, have ended up greats of the game is because they are constantly trying to improve.

After a poor Ashes series, Jimmy wanted to increase his run-up speed going into the crease, feeling he needed a bit more zip at the age of 41.

Ashwin is learning all the time, about seam positions and how to deliver the ball. You also look at Version Two of India spinner Kuldeep Yadav. That is so much better than Version One because he has tried to improve.

India's Ravichandran Ashwin (Associated Press)
Image: India’s Ravichandran Ashwin took nine wickets on his 100th Test, in Dharamsala

Try to learn why you collapsed. Why does Zak Crawley keep getting starts and then getting out? Does Ben Duckett need to charge the bowler when the ball is so new and spinning? Ollie Pope – a brilliant 196, then nothing else.

Look at your own game and improve. That is how you get better as players and better as a team.

Formidable India and phenomenal Anderson

You have to say many congratulations to India after losing the first Test match and coming back to win 4-1, which they thoroughly deserved to.

They did it without Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami, with Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul injured for either part of or most of the series, Ashwin missing a day for personal reasons, no Rishabh Pant.

They have played some fantastic cricket and they have got some fantastic cricketers. They have now won 17 home series in a row and are formidable.

As for Anderson’s achievement of 700 Test wickets, that is phenomenal. He has played 187 Test matches as well.

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Hussain says James Anderson reaching 700 Test wickets is a ‘phenomenal’ achievement and now the great Shane Warne’s tally of 708 wickets will be in his sights

There will be fast bowlers in club cricket, professional cricket that will be looking at Anderson in unbelievable admiration.

If you have ever seen a fast bowler take his boots off in the corner of a dressing room and seen blood seeping through their socks, you will realise what a fast bowler goes through in international cricket.

Fitness, skill, longevity. The skill of Jimmy Anderson is unbelievable and the great Shane Warne, with 708 Test wickets, will be the next man in his sights.

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