The Pakistan v England series is over, which for many reasons is a blessed relief.
The whole thing was an unmitigated disaster Every now and again a series comes along which you just know from the outset will be a complete nightmare. Everything which can go wrong, will go wrong – as we witnessed in the Emirates.
One to wipe from the memory banks It’s best to pretend it was all a bad dream, as our opponents tend to do when fortunes are reversed. You rarely hear Pakistan supporters reminiscing about the 3-1 thrashing we meted out in 2010. As someone once explained to me, the 2006/7 Ashes never actually took place: it was all filmed on a sound stage in the Nevada desert.
It was too bloody early in the morning 6.00am is the worst possible time for a day’s cricket to begin, especially when your side is losing. You wake up in a panic, check the score on your phone through bleary eyes, see how many wickets England have lost, and then kick the cat. What an awful way for the day begin – and it’s only downhill from there.
We didn’t get any work done I suppose this applies to many series, but during this one, with play continuing till lunchtime in the UK, no England supporter achieved anything in the office before 2pm. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates a £50 billion hit to the national economy as a result of employees across the land clicking refresh on Cricinfo rather than doing what they were actually paid for. And all this despite our losing. No matter how bad it got, you couldn’t take your eye off it – rather like a car crash.
It wasn’t on TV Well, it was on Sky, but for those who can’t afford / their spouses have banned premium sports channels, there was zilch, riens, FA. No highlights programmes on terrestrial TV. Instead, one had to make do with clips on the news, the odd bit on You Tube, or the radio, whose coverage was sorely compromised by the inclusion of Henry Blofeld. Why they insist on hiring a commentator who knows almost nothing about cricket, keeps getting the score wrong, and whose enlightening observations included the recent lack of rain (in a desert), remains a mystery.
The team got a lot of stick If you’re a proper England supporter you rarely get angry when the side is outplayed – you just feel sad. And you take it personally. Criticism of the players feels like criticism of you – as if the pundits are scolding you – because as a follower, you and the team are just different parts of the same entity. Particularly hurtful was the notion that our batsmen foundered on their arrogance – believing their own hype, they took success for granted. That just doesn’t ring true. The batsmen tried their best but lost their nerve, due to technical failings and lack of match practice.
The bowlers did well A separate ‘reason to be cheerful’, perhaps. Anderson and co dismissed Pakistan on all five possible occasions, never conceding 400 – a tremendous effort on those pitches with no mystery spinner. They twice earned us a first innings lead. Monty’s comeback was a triumph, and Broad has finally become the bowler we were promised. Whether this makes our defeat better or worse – we still bowled like world champions / a wasted effort which will cause resentment in the dressing room – well, I just don’t know