England v India: Victory is a statement ahead of Ashes in 2013

England's victory in India was an outstanding achievement and will send a shiver down the spine of the Australians ahead of back-to-back Ashes series in 2013.

It was a result that ranks alongside the Ashes victories of recent years, with England showing incredible character to come back from their heavy defeat in the first Test in Ahmedabad.

Alastair Cook in numbers

  • 5: Set a new world record with centuries in his first five Tests as captain
  • 23: Cook became the first England batsman to score 23 Test centuries when he reached three figures in Kolkata
  • 27: became the youngest batsman to pass 7,000 Test runs at 27 years 347 days
  • 61.85: His Test average in India is only surpassed by his averages in Bangladesh (114) and Australia (65.12)
  • 190: Top score for the series by Cook at Kolkata, his third highest Test innings
  • 866: Cook is now England's highest Test run-scorer in India, surpassing Mike Gatting's 863

After that result, and taking into account the 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the UAE earlier in the year, few could have predicted England would leave Nagpur with a series victory.

People will ask what happened between that match in Ahmedabad and the victory in Mumbai in the second Test.

First of all, England brought Monty Panesar back into the team and he gave them more balance.

Then Kevin Pietersen changed.

After two skittish and nervous innings in the first Test, he responded with a magnificent 186 in Mumbai. Alastair Cook also scored lots of runs and it became apparent that England had better spinners than India.

Cook delights in 'special' victory

I'm sure that has never been said before and it hurt the home side. They were puzzled and worried by it and many people are calling for a review into their domestic structure because of it.

England lost the toss in Mumbai, but once they had shown they could win the hard way, it gave them the belief to do the same in Kolkata in the third Test.

They preyed on India's insecurities, but we must also be mindful that the hosts played poorly. They have got a number of issues to address following this series - like the futures of their star player, Sachin Tendulkar, their captain Mahendra Dhoni and their coach Duncan Fletcher.

Australia visit India early in 2013 and that will be a fascinating contest because we will see how they respond, and also what Australia have got because this will have been a wake-up call for them too.

Cook will return home from his first tour as Test captain a very happy man. He has proved that the captaincy would not detract from his performances - as he did in one-day cricket - and he has earned the respect of all his players with his runs.

Analysis

"There is a mild irony that Duncan Fletcher didn't trust Graeme Swann when he was England coach and was never sure how valuable Monty Panesar really was. These two have been invaluable for England. Even when Panesar was wicketless in patches, he gave his captain control. They've both had terrific tours, as has Jimmy Anderson, and we saw glimpses of Steven Finn in Kolkata. On the batting side, Cook was immense and Pietersen played one brilliant innings in Mumbai."

England still have some areas they need to think about when they tour New Zealand in March, but they are good issues.

I hope they let Nick Compton have an extended run as opener in conditions that are more suited to run-scoring because he has battled hard at the top of the order in India.

Then there is the number six position to think about, with Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan all wanting that spot.

People might also want England to consider playing two spinners in future - after the performances of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar - but that is unlikely in places like New Zealand, Australia and at home.

There are always areas to improve, but England will be happy. I think the 2005 Ashes victory was as good as anything when you consider the personnel in the Australia team.

Players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Ricky Ponting played in that series, but the way England played in India, and the character they showed, means this can be ranked alongside such achievements.