This year has been pretty tough on England's cricketers. While British Olympians have been displaying their heroic feats, our cricketers have been wallowing in bad performances and uncomfortable headlines.
It wasn't even a year ago that Andrew Strauss and his men were being lauded as one of England's greatest Test teams. Having won the Ashes in Australia, they disposed of Sri Lanka and thumped India 4-0, stealing the world number one ranking from them. But that was where it all started to go wrong. Whitewashed in the one-day series against India, the new number one Test team were bamboozled by Pakistan's Sajeed Ajmal in Dubai and then could only draw against a weak Sri Lankan side. There was a brief rest bite against the West Indies but there was no hiding place when Graeme Smith's polished South Africans arrived.
The world number ranking was gone, Andrew Strauss retired and England's star batsman Kevin Pietersen was on the naughty step for sending texts to the South Africans allegedly criticising Andrew Strauss. A bad year then.
Or maybe there a chance to salvage something of 2012 for England. You wouldn't think so with a trip to India, where England haven't won in 27 years. But confidence does appear to be growing in the England camp under new captain Alistair Cook. While England haven't won either of there 3 day warm matches, they have been in control of both games. Most of the batsman have now had quite abit of time in the middle and the bowlers have overs under there belt and are taking wickets. England still have one more warm up match to go for what will probably be the eleven for the first Test to hone their skills.
While their are worries about the fitness of fast bowlers Steven Finn and Stuart Broad, England still have that same depth in fast bowling reserves that they've had for the past 2 years. A seam bowling line-up of Anderson, Onions and Bresnan doesn't sound to shabby even though it is quite possible only 2 seam bowlers will be required.
It is also worth noting that the Indian side that England will be facing isn't as strong as it once was. Indian greats Raul Dravid and VVS Laxman have retired, making way for players such as Cheteshwar Pujara and Suresh Raina, who are both talented but are not yet in the same class as Dravid and Laxman. There have also been rumours of retirement from the God of the Indian team, Sachin Tendulkar.
Two months ago commentators were predicting an Indian whitewash. Some still are. That seems highly unlikely. This Test series should be an evenly contested battle, with both teams eager to prove that they are on the road to recovery. For England, the road to recovery could just start in the most difficult place of all.