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Brendon McCullum
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Is this a new golden era for England's Test side?

England could hardly be doing any better in the Test match arena at the moment, with eight wins from nine games already sparking talk of a golden era for the current side.

The permanent appointment of Ben Stokes as captain, coupled with the arrival of Brendon McCullum as head coach, has seen a seismic shift in the way England play the red-ball game and has so far been an outstanding success.

World Test champions New Zealand were swept aside 3-0 in the summer, before South Africa were defeated 2-1.

Those home successes were followed by what looked like a tricky tour of Pakistan, but England rose to the challenge and swept their hosts 3-0, with the Three Lions now third in the Test Rankings behind Australia and India.

Next summer sees another major challenge arrive with Australia heading to England for an Ashes series which they are 1/1 To Win Outright, with the hosts priced at 11/8.

Arguably it is too early to judge this as a golden era just yet, so what do the England side of the present have to achieve in the future to match some of those from the past?

1950s a decade of success

The 1950s started with a home thumping at the hands of the West Indies and a 4-1 Ashes series loss in Australia, but from there on in England were at the peak of their powers for most of the rest of the decade.

They went unbeaten across 14 consecutive series before being crushed 4-0 in the 1958/59 Ashes clashes Down Under, claiming three successive series wins over Australia along the way.

There was also a series victory in South Africa in 1956/57, with England claiming drawn series in India and the West Indies and two successes in New Zealand.

Armed with batters of the quality of Len Hutton, Cyril Washbrook, Denis Compton Peter May and Ted Dexter, the all-round talents of Alec Bedser, a wicketkeeper-batter of the highest class in Godfrey Evans and fast bowling greats Brian Statham and Fred Trueman, this England side truly had all bases covered.

Illingworth drives on into the 1970s

Between the third Test of the 1968 home Ashes series and the second Test against India in the summer of 1971, England went 27 Test matches without defeat, as the replacement of Colin Cowdrey as captain by Ray Illingworth saw another huge run of success.

Along the way West Indies, New Zealand and Pakistan were all sent to series defeat, but it was the Ashes success in Australia in 1970/71 that was the undoubted pinnacle.

England were unbeaten across six Tests Down Under, with two wins in Sydney enough to regain the Ashes.

Openers Geoffrey Boycott and John Edrich led the way, with both topping 600 runs in the series, while Brian Luckhurst, Basil D’Oliveira and Illingworth himself all excelled with the bat.

With the ball, fiery paceman Jon Snow took 31 wickets in the series, being offered good support by the likes of Derek Underwood, Peter Lever, Bob Willis and Illingworth again.

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The late 2000s saw another sustained period of success arrive, but before that honourable mentions have to go to a couple of other sides.

David Gower and then Mike Gatting oversaw wins in the Ashes series of 1985 and 1986/87 and shortly before the first of those two success, England became the first touring side to come from behind to clinch a series triumph in India.

A long spell of disappointment followed the latter of those Ashes victories, before the 2005 vintage under Michael Vaughan delivered a thrilling revival in one of the finest Test series ever played.

That was a sixth series win in a row, but things would soon fall apart as defeat to Pakistan and a 5-0 whitewash in Australia took away the feel-good factor all too soon.

However, it would rerun in full from the summer of 2009, when a 2-0 win at home to West Indies led into a 2-1 triumph at home to Australia.

A drawn series in South Africa followed to be backed up by victories home and away against Bangladesh and on home soil against Pakistan.

Again a trip to Australia, in 2009/10, would prove the summit of this side’s achievements, as Andrew Strauss led a side who became the first touring outfit to win three Tests in a single series by an innings margin.

Home success over Sri Lanka and a 4-0 sweep of visiting India promised more of the same, with England extending their record to eight win and a draw in nine series.

However, a 3-0 drubbing by Pakistan finished that run of successes off in a very definite fashion and England have not enjoyed such consistent form ever since.

What do the current side need to achieve?

The current England team have no doubt laid a platform for further success and a home Ashes series against Australia next summer will give them an opportunity to move up further.

However, the most notable factor in all previous glory eras is Ashes success away from home - the first opportunity to add that to their CV will come in the winter of 2025/26.

There are plenty of tough tests ahead of that date, but should Stokes oversee success along the way and then lead a successful bid for the Little Urn, he and his team-mates will be able to say that they have helped forge another golden era for English cricket.

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