England’s 196 run victory at Lords against India was reminiscent of the 2005 Ashes both in atmosphere and in the quality of England’s overall performance. Pietersen and Prior in particular were clinical in dissecting a depleted Indian bowling attack; whilst Anderson and Broad formed a fierce partnership with the ball, not too dissimilar to the likes of Jones and Flintoff at Edgbaston and Old Trafford in 2005.
There is now, rightly, increasing talk of England reaching the World Number 1 spot in the Test rankings, potentially leapfrogging both South Africa and India over the coming months. However, regardless of whether they reach these heights on home soil this summer, the real test of their long-term credentials will be whether they can sustain the number 1 spot for a significant period in the run-up up to the 2013-14 Ashes series.
India, the emerging superpower of world cricket, represents only one hurdle [albeit a significant one] for the ambitious Strauss and Flower. They will be very aware though that delivering victories in a host of other Test match series on the horizon will be how the history books likely judge this good, but not yet great, England side.
In particular, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India away from home, as well as South Africa at home, represent the sternest of cricketing challenges. Not to forget whether they can win the back-to-back Ashes series and retain the urn on Australian turf once more in 2013/14. Only then can we really establish how this talented England squad compares with some of the great international Test teams from earlier eras.