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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
England's path to success
England's Test ranking since 1999
1999 - Lost at home to NZ
1999/2000 - Lost in SA
2000 - Beat Zim and WI at home
2000/01 - Won in Pak and SL
2001/02 - Lost in India, drew in New Zealand
2002 - Beat SL, drew with India
2002/03 - Lost in Australia
2003 - Beat Zim, drew with SA
2003/04 - Won in Bdesh, lost in SL, won in WI
2004 - Beat NZ at home

By Martin Gough

Unbeaten in seven Tests so far this year after their 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand, England have once again become a cricketing force.

It is a stark contrast to the aftermath of the Kiwis' last tour to England in 1999, when defeat left the home side rock bottom in the unofficial world rankings.

BBC Sport plots the key moments in England's rise to prominence.

APRIL 1999: NASSER HUSSAIN MADE CAPTAIN

In the aftermath of Ashes defeat and World Cup embarrassment, Nasser Hussain takes the helm from Alec Stewart.

In his first series, against New Zealand, his team is booed off the field but over the next 18 months Hussain's uncompromising approach rubs off on his charges.

SEPTEMBER 1999: DUNCAN FLETCHER TAKES OVER AS COACH

Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan
Fletcher provides vital background support for Vaughan's team
The former Zimbabwe captain takes a back seat to his captain but brings a practical, methodical approach and an air of calm to the camp.

He is uncompromising in his opinion on the character necessary to be a Test cricketer and for several players their first series - a 2-1 defeat in South Africa - is their last.

APRIL 2000: CENTRAL CONTRACTS INTRODUCED

An idea long suggested by England captains and coaches is brought into being by the England and Wales Cricket Board with 12 players under contract to their country.

For the first time, it means England, rather than the counties, have the first call on players and can manage their training and rest periods.

The initiative is credited as a major reason behind the success of pace bowlers Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick, and later for Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff.

WINTER 2000/01: WINS IN PAKISTAN AND SRI LANKA

Hussain's side oozes confidence after winning successive series in alien conditions, and despite being 1-0 down at one point in Sri Lanka.

Some of that confidence is crushed when Australia claim an emphatic Ashes victory in England the following summer but the experience is one many senior players still draw on.

SEPTEMBER 2001: ENGLAND LAUNCH ACADEMY

Former Test wicket-keeper Rod Marsh quits the Australian Academy to create a similar format for England, teaching players what it takes to get to the highest level.

Among the first intake heading Down Under for the winter are Harmison, Simon Jones, Rob Key and Andrew Strauss.

WINTER 2002/03: BACKROOM STAFF PUT IN PLACE

Flintoff and Troy Cooley
Flintoff's bowling has improved after work with Cooley
After a chaotic injury list brings England to their knees during the Ashes series in Australia, a chief medical officer is appointed for the first time.

Dr Peter Gregory takes charge of managing players' rehabilitation from injury and also advises whether it would be best to rest key players, like injury worry Simon Jones.

Bowling coach Troy Cooley begins work full-time, rather than his predecessors who just joined the team for tours, helping the develop the technique of Harmison in particular.

JULY 2003: VAUGHAN TAKES THE HELM

Michael Vaughan takes over as one-day captain after Hussain steps down and leads England to series victories over Pakistan, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

His success, and the new buzz and enthusiasm in the squad under Vaughan, leads Hussain to resign as Test skipper a game into the series against South Africa.

SEPTEMBER 2003: THORPE AND FLINTOFF

After twice falling behind to South Africa, England fight back to square the Test series with a thrilling nine-wicket win at The Oval.

Centurion Graham Thorpe proves he is back to his best after more than a year away because of family trouble.

And Flintoff bashes a vital 95 to cap a series in which he has matured noticeably with the bat.

MARCH 2004: FAST BOWLERS COME TOGETHER

After 18 months out with a serious knee injury, Simon Jones returns to action against West Indies and England finally have their first-choice attack available.

Harmison takes an amazing 7-12 in the first Test, the first step of a surge in form that sees him ranked second in the world by the summer.

And Flintoff claims his first Test five-wicket haul in Bridgetown to mark his development from a fill-in seamer to another strike bowler.

MAY/JUNE 2004: SUCCESSFUL NEW BOYS

Maiden Test centuries for Andrew Strauss and Geraint Jones prove England's strength in depth has improved massively and lay the foundations for the future.





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