England may well be over the hills and far away leading 3-0 in the 2013 Ashes series however they still have lots prove heading into the final Test at The Oval next week.
Collectively as a side, Alistair Cook and his men have been solid and consistent throughout the summer but the jury remains out as to whether they have truly marked themselves as one of the best England Test teams.
For sure, they have all but completed one of the most comprehensive England Ashes triumphs in history but with the critics firmly out as to the quality of the visiting opposition, are the class of 2013 really on a par with the likes of Michael Vaughan’s 2005 outfit.
Overall and on an individual basis, it seems not.
Each winning Test against the Aussies appears to have been sparked by one or two match clinching performances (such as Broad and Bell at Durham for instance) whilst other members of the eleven simultaneously have turned in distinctively average displays.
As a unit, England have crucially been better organised than the tourists and there is a strong sense of cohesion within the side as demonstrated by their largely efficient fielding.
But in terms of the batting and bowling, many of England’s charges have been inconsistent and ultimately, their class, nous and those odd eye catching performances have seen them through against arguably one of the worst Australian Test sides in recent memory.
Many have suggested the 2013 series has been a case of an average team with one or two stars beating a fairly poor team with one of two experienced veterans holding things together.
Based on the facts and figures, that is probably a fair reflection thus far as England will feel they could have done better despite the all important 3-0 statistic.
Messrs Bairstow and Root, for example, have largely been poor at the crease and have failed to really stamp their authority and thrive on the team collectively succeeding.
Their performances certainly don’t make them Test certainties for the coming years anyway – and one feels that Bairstow must put in a decent knock at The Oval to retain his place have failed to reach 100 during 20 Tests to date.
With the ball, Jimmy Anderson will be keen to replicate Stuart Broad’s performance at Chester-Le-Street having been outshone by the 27-year-old of late.
Should both of those men start firing in tandem on a regular basis, England have the capacity to cause a lot of damage to teams like South Africa and India who are currently above them in the ICC Test Rankings.
To put things into context, the current England side would have struggled against Australia’s best of a decade ago; at least if they had played to the level they have so far this summer.
Cook and co will be desperate to show next week that they can all hit the headlines in the same Test and prove their worth as a possible World No.1 team.
A first innings 500+ with strong contributions from each batsmen would really put the seal on the 2013 series and go some way to proving that they can beat the best sides going into the winter and 2014.