England team is still aiming for perfection

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England ended their rollercoaster 2011 back on a small upward curve and remain rightly proud of what has been mostly a year of outstanding achievement.

Victory was badly needed in Saturday’s one-off Twenty20 in Kolkata, to avoid a seven-match losing run which would have been an inappropriately dispiriting way for England to sign off. The Test and Twenty20 world number one team still know they have a blind spot when it comes to 50-over cricket - especially in the subcontinent, as India exposed in this month’s 5-0 drubbing.

It was hardly a one-off either, as England’s stuttering World Cup campaign in these conditions last spring - and their 6-1 post-Ashes hammering in Australia at the start of the year - demonstrate. Even so, as they drew breath from a 45-match odyssey completed in winning style thanks largely to Kevin Pietersen in a six-wicket stroll at Eden Gardens, there was still satisfaction at a job largely well done.

Pietersen and Graeme Swann are two of only three players who were present in England colours at the beginning and the end. The other who helped to clinch the Ashes so memorably in Australia - for the first time in almost 25 years - and then salvage some pride again in Kolkata, was Tim Bresnan. The Yorkshire seamer missed some gigs in between, because of injury, but along with Swann is one of England’s constants in all formats.