Bizarre captaincy, shambolic catching, and good traditional test batting. Suddenly Pakistan look like huge favourites for this test match. And they deserve to be in this position too. They bowled really well on Thursday and they batted just as well, if not better, on Friday. Well played guys.
As for England, I’m struggling to find anything original to say. Basically we were crap. Again. And only Ben Stokes did himself justice with the ball. The others weren’t exactly terrible but they weren’t great either. They had the right idea early on, when they pitched the ball up a bit, but they soon lost their nerve and returned to their habitual length.
Unfortunately Pakistan’s batsmen didn’t make too many mistakes – thus showing our motley crew exactly how to bat in England in May. And when our bowlers did occasionally create chances our fielders usually shelled them. There were five (yes f.i.v.e.) drops in total. You won’t win many test matches if you spurn that many opportunities.
I’m also beginning to wonder whether the elephant I can hear stamping and chomping in the corner of the room is actually Joe Root’s captaincy and not necessarily Trevor Bayliss’s methods. Obviously it’s true that Bayliss hasn’t had much (if any) positive impact in the long form of the game, but Root is beginning to make some really strange calls.
When England took the new ball yesterday it was given to Stokes not Anderson. Whilst I accept that Stokes had bowled well, Jimmy is the best new-ball bowler in the team by a country mile. And he’s at his best with a new cherry in his hand.
England’s slips also seemed to be in disarray. The personnel kept changing, the ball kept flying through gaps, and when the ball did fall into someone’s lap they treated it like a hot potato. Root obviously has some tricky dilemmas – someone told me that Cook only catches 67% of his slip catches – but well prepared teams usually have a plan worked out ahead of important games.
The fact that Cook briefly fielded at short leg, and worst still even Root himself had a spell at boot hill too, suggests there’s something pretty odd going on. Is Root’s planning good enough? And what makes him think that short leg is an appropriate place for the captain to field? Surely he can’t see what’s going on from there. It was weird.
Anyway, rather than having another moan about white ball specialists – although I forgot to mention yesterday that England bat exactly how hapless Harrison asked them to bat last year – I think I’ll leave it there for now. After all, there’s always a chance that England will score 450 in their second innings and then bowl Pakistan out cheaply on the final day to win by a slim margin. And then all my moaning will seem a tad silly!
So let’s think optimistically instead. I predict that Pakistan won’t add a single run this morning. England will score nearly 500 thanks to a brilliant 150 off just 50 balls from Jos Buttler, who strode to the crease with England on 300-5 for the first time in a generation. And then Dom Bess and Mark Wood will bowl England to victory in the 4th dig.
You heard it here folks. In fact, you won’t hear it anywhere else. Because it’s not going to happen.
PS There might not be a day 3 report tomorrow because it’s my tenth wedding anniversary. Much as I love writing about cricket I also love being married and having testicles … something that might be in jeopardy if I spend this particular weekend watching sport.