Not So Smokin’ – Day One in Dubai

I knew that grass was illegal in Dubai – a poor Brit was once jailed for having a microscopic grain of cannabis on the tread of his shoe – but this is getting ridiculous now. This pitch was supposed to have a bit more life. Did you see any evidence of that? Pakistan finished the first day of the first test on 286-4. This time they’re 282-4. Arrrggghhh.

Excuse my grumpy tone. I was really hoping for a better cricket wicket this time around. Of course this surface might deteriorate a little faster than the last one (in which case there’s still time for an interesting game to develop) but at this point someone needs to set up a charity for the poor bowlers. I’d certainly help out with a donation or too.

After watching today’s play I was severely tempted to just cut and paste one of my reports from last week. The pitch offered very little movement and was slower than a Jane Austin period drama. England’s bowlers toiled manfully but got very little reward.

The plan of rotating the bowlers frequently and giving them short spells was astute, but it’s still bloody hard work for all concerned – including the literally dozens of spectators at the stadium.

It must be heart-breaking for the likes of Broad, Stokes and Wood to charge in and bang the ball into the surface, only to watch it limp apologetically into Jos Buttler’s gloves. The word of the day was probably ‘limp’ or even ‘flaccid’. I can think of other words too but this is a family blog.

The pick of the seamers was probably James Anderson or Mark Wood. The former probed away like a doctor conducting a prostate examination – conducting a thankless task in as professional a manner as possible – but he only managed to claim the one wicket.

Mark Wood probed away like a less experienced but more enthusiastic doctor performing a prostate exam: he occasionally made the batsman wince in discomfort but still only claimed the one wicket. At least Younis Khan wasn’t sitting comfortably after facing him though.

Just like in Abu Dhabi our spinners also struggled a bit. Moeen claimed an early wicket but looked pretty toothless thereafter. I’ll spare you any dentist analogies at this juncture. Meanwhile Rashid bowled ok without threatening much. He ripped a googly into Misbah’s pads on one occasion (which was nice to see) but he didn’t quite do enough to claim a scalp. His time will come later in the match one suspects.

Talking of Misbah, the Pakistan captain was the start performer of the day. He looked unflustered throughout and thoroughly deserved his ton. It’s bizarre to think he’s older than Michael Vaughan and more than six years older than Kevin Pietersen. He’s not bad for a relative relic eh.

With Pakistan approaching three hundred for the loss of only four wickets, the hosts look in a very strong position – especially if the pitch does deteriorate as early as the third day.

However, England’s cause is not without hope. Pakistan have got a somewhat lengthy tail in this match. Riaz, who averages just nine in test cricket, is down to bat at number eight; therefore a couple of early wickets tomorrow morning could put the cat amongst the pigeons. It’s going to be a crucial first session on Friday.

James Morgan


PS If you haven’t done so already, take a look at Tregaskis’s latest article over at Drop In Pitch. Here’s a link. He’s in fine form as usual. You see that sacred cow over there? Consider it skewered.


  • There was marginally a bit more pace and bounce but admittedly it was only relative and mainly with the newer ball that it carried. Perhaps a bit of an issue is that damned Kookaburra that goes soft and seamless too quickly and means the odds are so much with the batsmen. I felt that the spinners bowled a fair bit less badly than they were in Abu Dhabi but I felt Pakistan applied themselves a fair bit better than they did against the seamers relative to the first day there when there were of course those catches dropped and the Broad no-ball. The England seamers still bowled well but Misbah negated them somewhat by just being so obdurate.

    That said, the way the Pakistan played the short ball makes me think that they won’t likely be too successful outside of Asia so long as groundsmen leave a bit more grass on the pitch.

    • Great point about the kookaburra ball. It’s awful. I have no idea why it’s used in so many countries.

      • Seen many suggestions recently about spicing things up and making away teams more competitive, most around the toss.
        One I saw last week though is a toss to decide the ball, I’m not sure its needed. I reckon most captains given the choice would choose the Duke.

        • Mark Butcher said on ESPN a couple of weeks ago that the Dukes ball wouldn’t last five overs on other pitches around the world and is really only a viable option on the less abrasive pitches found in the U.K.

      • Kookaburra was used in most places for a long time. The question should be why does England get to use a special ball at home suited for home conditions.

  • Misbah’s century was the first by a batsman aged over 41 since Boycs in 1981 in Tests! There have been 24 altogether in Test history.

    • I seem to remember that Jack Hobbs scored more than half his nearly 200 first class centuries after the age of 40.

      And when I say I seem to remember, it was something Tom Good said in the first episode of The Good Life (my go-to source of cricket stats).

  • Tregaskis, one might say ‘rem acu tetigisti’…

    The bits of Selvey and Co excerpted would frankly be embarrassing if written by a lovestruck teenager. From a mature scribe they are downright unseemly.

    The only thing I’d quibble with is the juxtaposition of the last two sentences, which might imply that Ed Smith has changed his attitude recently.

  • Pakistan Cricket has been suffering since there are no home matches since many years. On the other hand, amateur teams like Bangladesh and Afghanistan are showing great improvement. PCB is trying to bring back International cricket in Pakistan. Pakistan Super League will also have good good impact. This series lost was a great setback as Pakistan whitewashed England back in 2012


copywriter copywriting