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With the English summer having passed us by (predictably lacking in sunshine!) now is the time to sit back and reflect on sporting successes, and what a successful summer it has been for the England cricket team. Since Andy Flower took over the reins following the Peter Moores – Kevin Pietersen debacle in 2009 the ultimate aim has been to build a team to achieve the number one Test match ranking in the ICC World rankings, the question is; now that this current group of players have achieved that goal, what next?

It is a question that is asked of many top athletes: How can Usain Bolt improve from his performance in Beijing? Can Novak Djokovic improve on his incredible record from this year (he has won 64/67 matches so far)? Of course, there is rather more limited scope for improvement in an individual sport such as Tennis, but cricket is essentially a team game made up of many individual performances which means that the notion remains the same. The team (as individuals) will work on every aspect of their game that they can in order to discover that extra 1% that will give them an edge over their opponents. It may sound very clichéd but it does perfectly epitomise the mentality of Andy Flower and his charges.

The nature of sport is that it is an evolutionary entity raising standards and expanding boundaries, rarely does any sport stagnate over a significant period of time, change is inevitable due to the cyclical nature of the majority of mainstream sports (most have a defined ‘season’) and it just so happens that at the moment the England cricket team – and surrounding staff – are at the peak of their powers, a result of 2½ years hard-work and dedication towards a set goal.

Since Andy Flower took over as head coach in the Spring of 2009 his regime has been one built around professionalism and the attention to detail previously not synonymous within the England cricketing setup, always previously seen as a laughing stock amongst cricket’s elite. Always the younger brother looking up to his superior (in the shape of Australia) in terms of preparation, player quality and of course performance, how the tables have been turned. England’s infamous Schofield review after the ill-fated tour down under in 2007 (in which England were whitewashed 5-0) has been recently mirrored by the ACB (Australian Cricket Board) following their humiliating home & away defeats to England in successive Ashes series; whoever thought that the Australians would resort to such stereotypically English panic-stricken measures? Is it cruel to smile at the thought of struggling Australians?

So to my original question; what next? Well, England are current world T20 and Test ‘champions’ so the logical step would be to aim for the ultimate triumvirate of being at the top in all forms of the game and thus win the 50-over World Cup, right? Well, actually probably not, as fantastic as it would be to win the World Cup it is uninterrupted dominance of the Test arena that truly drives this English setup (and one could argue supporters as well). To follow on from the great West Indian teams of the 80’s, the all conquering Australian teams of the 90’s/2000’s wouldn’t have been in these players wildest dreams four years ago, but now it is a real possibility, it is just for them to take that last push and grasp it. Now to the small task of two winter tours in the sub-continent, one which England must be successful in to cement their place atop the world rankings.