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.
Haha! My 11th wedding anniversary was the other day. I forgot. I’m now a eunuch.
England need to consider a new captain. Rory Burns for England!
Root looks surprisingly rattled as captain, more than Cook did, which is worrying. We’re also in a culture of losing at the moment, which is hard enough to break with major changes being made, let alone with the same basic team skeleton we had over the winter. I’m biased as a Surrey fan, but at least one of Burns and Foakes should be playing in this game. Bess has been about as poor as predicted. Shambles really.
Surrey fan too James D and I agree that Burns is as good a bet as anyone to open. F oakes needs a bit of work on standing up to the spinner, but with McManus of Hants is by far the best keeper on the circuit.
Stokes far the best bowler, spilled catches aside, wasn’t impressed by the rest at all. Vaughan says today they need more co aching, but these guys are supposed to be test cricketers although they don’t look like it. Coaching is more of a hindrance than a solution, England have too many of them who are no good. Perhaps they should actually play some g ames instead of ” resting” and looking like they’ve just turned up from a boozy night out.
So a young Pakistan side shows us how to play a test match in May. Embarrassing isn’t it. But very well done to them.
Happy Anniversary James. Wouldn’t watch the cricket it’ll spoil your day!
I quite like unusual fielding positions and unexpected bowling changes to disrupt the expectations of the batting side…But the faults shown by England in this game are not the bowling, but the catching & batting.
Personally I wouldn’t have picked Buttler, and I would also expect (injuries notwithstanding) I would expect all those in contention to have played most/all red ball CC games before selection. I’m also not convinced by Bairstow as a WK – 2 good catches, but one drop when the batsman may/may not have hit it, some other untidiness and the one where he didn’t move and Cook had to go late.
Perhaps time for Foakes as WK, Bairstow as 1st slip, and Hildreth for Buttle?
“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.” Exactly. Why are England’s quicks so terrified of being driven? They should want to be – much greater chance of nicks to the slips and far easier to set a field for. Has Root not heard of the “V” between mid-on & mid-off?
My prediction – Pakistan currently 350-8, so a lead of 100+ is an outside possibility, then England 100-4, followed by 250 all out, leaving Pakistan 150 to win, although likely to be short of a batsman.
Max, the lead is already 166, so to set a target of 150, England will need at least 315. Can you see it happening? Just about, but no more.
Happy anniversary Mr and Mrs M!
Anderson was interviewed at the start of play and said that it is not about pitching the ball up but rather about making the batsmen play. I know he has more test wickets than me but I wonder if perhaps both is the way to go.
Basically, England can employ an army of coaches, use a legion of metrics, have a chairman of selectors who cites philosophers nobody’s ever heard of, and the on-field tactics end up being “these brown guys don’t like it up ’em”….
I just wish we had some journalists with balls would put Root and the selectors under real pressure to explain why we continue to produce under par performances accross the board. Only Stokes and Cook have shown the necessary in this game. What’s the betting that if we produce the goods at Headingly Lords will be swept under the carpet. The saddest thing is there are few England supporters who are in the least bit surprised by what’s happened so far. It brings back memories of 1981, when Brearley was brought in to revive sagging morale. The problem is there’s no player or administrator you could point to who seems to have the slightest idea how to reverse our slide. Even Eddie Jones seems to be struggling with the Rugby team. Maybe it’s something in our character these days that doesn’t have the disciplined metal to knuckle down and play ‘properly’. Test cricket to me is making sure you build a position of strength before you attack. It’s a tactical game not an instinctive one. You have 5 days to do this, so there’s always time to build, even if it means reigning in your natural game in for a while.
What happened to the old school philosophy of limiting your strokes to the mid on mid off V until you get the pace of the pitch and conditions sorted. Leave the crap alone, even if it means shelving scoring opportunities for a while. Make them bowl at the stumps and don’t give them easy wickets, especially with the new ball. There was an Aussie opener no one ever talks about these days, from the 1970’s, before Langer and Hayden started their reign, called Bruce Laird, who epitomised this philosophy. A player of limited talent he often hung around for ages to take the shine off the new ball and make life easier for his more talented colleagues. Alan Border loved him for this, even though his test average was mediocre. Langer could be said to be made of the same stuff. In recent decades only Atherton and Cook have shown the necessary for us.
The other, more scary thing for the future is the total lack of bowling talent coming up. I know Broad and Anderson weren’t great, but they did have a few catches spilled, which would have improved things for us. Where are their successors?!! We revert to Mark Wood, who has no test pedigree atall, and a spinner without red ball experience. That says a lot about the state of our game which needs addressing now.
Dean Elgar currently plays like that opening for South Africa.
Did Root really field at short leg? That’s remarkable. One of the things about being skipper is that you can and do send some other poor gubbins to do that.
Given that this has been a shambolic display, after years of pretty average batting in general, I think it’s time for a more radical selection policy. Maybe we should pick a team something like this for the second test?
Hameed (Let him gain experience down the order)
Bairstow (Plays too far away from his pads to be a top order bat)
Sam Curran (May as well try someone very young, no other seamers have really made their case)
Virdi (at least he can actually turn the ball)
Make Stokes captain, hopefully he’ll be more of a combative, Ponting-esque figure than Root. Also bring in a coach for tests who makes it clear that getting out to a poor shot is unacceptable, feels like someone needs to question the desire of the team to make tough runs.
Rooto – my mental aberration. I meant a lead of 200. Only 21 short, as it turned out. Currently (1640) a mere 46 needed to make Pakistan bat again, 4 wickets in hand. My 250 is looking rather optimistic!
Dean Elgar currently plays like that opening for South Africa.
Whizzing back 30 years, England, batting 2nd, made 165 in the Lords Test.
Their exalted team: Gooch 44,Chris Broad 0, Moxon 26, Gower 46, Lamb 10, Pringle (don’t laugh at the back! 1, Downton 11,
Emburey (capt – who remembers that?) 7, Small 5, Jarvis 7, Dilley 0.