England Pull A Surprise – Day 1 in Sharjah

Well that was unexpected. Just as one of the nation’s best known cricket journalists suggests that England should go into the 5th test with five seamers, the management pick three spinners instead – two of whom are probably best seen as part-timers. Hmmmm.

I was a little surprised by England’s team selection. With Mark Wood missing through injury, I expected Plunkett to come into the side and the balance to remain pretty similar.

Of course, we knew that Jos Buttler wouldn’t be playing, but I didn’t quite expect such a radical shake-up. Do I sense that Bayliss likes the odd experiment? Maybe. But then again, perhaps I’ve just got used to intransigence from England over the years. I guess it’s refreshing to see the team willing to embrace change.

The again, I must admit I’ve got mixed feelings about the XI chosen though. I’m glad that Bairstow has taken the gloves. I’m also glad that James Taylor is finally getting a game. What I’m not so sure about is the stubbornness (it’s that word again) over Moeen opening the innings. I can’t see him opening in South Africa, so why persist with the strategy? Whoever opens against Steyn and Morkel etc over Christmas is going to be thrown in at the deep end with little acclimatisation. It will probably be a rude awakening. Good luck with that Alex Hales.

I won’t be able to write a match report this afternoon as I’m off to Wembley to watch some cheerleaders. Apparently there’s a game on too. However, England are doing pretty well thus far. Pakistan are currently 105-4 off 44 overs. The pitch seems to be offering the bowlers a little bit of help. There’s a little movement for the seamers and the spinners are already getting some tweak.

It’s a little difficult to know what a good first innings score might be. Any thoughts?

James Morgan


  • Good day for England although the real test is tomorrow. I expect Shah to be more dangerous than the England spinners were, although Anderson and Broad were fantastic (and should have probably bowled more). Annoying to lose the toss again, they really need 300 which won’t be easy.

    Stokes’ injury is going to complicate things for SA in terms of team selection assuming he doesn’t recover in time. Although Ali to six might work quite well plus Hales to open? Maybe (in the short term) it’ll actually solve more problems than it creates, although I feel he has established himself as an important part of the team.

    Like the name of the new blog James, has a whiff of Alan Partridge about it!

    • Thanks. The name had to be memorable and catchy. It’s a little tabloid (or Partridge!) but it makes me smile. I’m a Simpsons fan!

    • It’s also going to complicate things in this test, as England are effectively down a bowler and a batsman, albeit one who has not made a large number of runs thus far.

      Just as well we bat deep, and still have a five man attack.

      The match seems very finely balanced. One large partnership could win it… but will we have two players with the patience (and odd bit of luck) to do it ?

  • Could you change the amount/hue of the red on the right side of the page please? Its kinda distracting, like a bunch of danger signs.

  • Hi there. It’s red and white because those are England’s colours! Maybe I’ll turn the contrast down :-)

  • It looked for quite a while during the sixth wicket partnership that Pakistan would manage to reach 270 – which could well have been a match-winning score.

    They were probably 20 short of par – after gifting some cheap wickets but England will still need 300 to press their advantage.

  • I’m not his greatest fan, but it seems only fair to note that Cook has just beaten his own personal best number of runs in a calendar year.
    A slightly obscure statistic, but it demonstrates that he continues to be a very fine opener.

  • Missed the link to this and have only just found it on Facebook. Subscribed to email so everything should be fine from now.

    Agree with what you say about Moeen as an opener but I doubt that Hales will be any more consistent. I’ve always enjoyed watching him at Notts but Hales is Hales and he will always be a risk.

    Dread to think of South Africa.

  • Now that he appears to have saved his place in the team, how about moving Bell up to open ?
    While Moeen’s opening, he’s effectively doing the job anyway, and with a degree of success, while Moeen’s positive batting attributes are wasted at the top of the innings.

    Root & Taylor at 3 & 4 doesn’t look daft, either.

    And it gives time for a young opener to make their case next season.

    • Yep, Bell opening might prolong his career a bit. I like the idea of Stokes, Moeen, Samit and Rashid at the back end after Bairstow (or Buttler if he returns) but three spinners in South Africa might be a shocker.


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