England are about to embark on an era of dominating Test cricket after climbing to the top of the world rankings with a 4-0 whitewash of India, according to the nation’s press.
And if the journalists were gushing about Andrew Strauss’ men they were scathing about the tourists’ dismal performance.
“India simply weren’t up for the fight,” Steve James wrote in The Daily Telegraph. “England have embarrassed them. There are insufficient superlatives to describe their performance in this series.”
Former England bowler Derek Pringle predicted a hot reception for India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni after England completed the series demolition with victory by an innings and eight runs at The Oval on Monday.
“Dhoni and India will face awkward questions back home following the scale of this defeat,” he wrote in the Telegraph.
“Although they turned up in part here at the Oval, mostly through Rahul Dravid who all series has stood like the Taj Mahal amid the wreckage of their cricket, they have been beaten so comprehensively that holy cows may have to be sacrificed.”
Indian hopes of escaping with a draw were dashed when Australian umpire Rod Tucker adjudged Sachin Tendulkar leg before wicket when on 91. The great batsman remains stranded on 99 international centuries.
“Tendulkar unable to save India from truth”, ran The Times’ headline.
Simon Barnes, the paper’s chief sports reporter, suggested that Tendulkar’s dismissal by England bowler Tim Bresnan may have been a blessing in disguise.
“People would have forgotten, or at least treated as a matter of infinitely less significance, that India have lost four Test matches by humiliating margins,” he argued.
His colleague – and former England captain – Michael Atherton backed Tucker’s decision, but warned the umpire “would be advised to avoid Mumbai (Tendulkar’s home city) for a while”.
The series win cemented England’s reputation in the long form of the game, and hints at an exciting future for the maturing team, Barnes added.
“This is not yet a great England team, but they are flushed with ambition to become one and have made some formidable strides towards it,” he said.
“They are doing so at present without a single obviously and unquestionably great player. With this England team, greatness is a matter of spirit.”
“England top of the world – but aiming higher”, ran The Independent on its back page.
“Given the way England have played over the past 18 months, what could possibly go wrong?” the paper asked, before warning against a drop in the work rate which has pushed the team to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings.
“However you look at it, England’s cricket team last night could claim the greatest of distinctions. They were indeed the best in the world,” it added.
“For a little while at least that is something that can speak – and sing – for itself.”