Up the Creek – Day Four in Sharjah

A game that promised so much now looks to be slipping away. Try as we might, the paucity of English spin bowling and our batsmen’s inability to play the turning ball has been our Achilles heel. I suppose it was inevitable really.

We needed early wickets to compete on day four but they never arrived. Jimmy made one early breakthrough but we needed three or four. Broad also bowled well but our admirable seamers needed some support. The spinners just haven’t delivered.

I don’t even know who our best spin option for South Africa is anymore. Moeen, Patel and Rashid all do some things well but lots of things badly. They’re all what one might call ‘nearly cricketers’. You can see they have some talent but something crucial is missing in all three cases. If only Hedley Verity were born eighty years later.

As soon as Pakistan’s lead reached two hundred I feared the worst. As it stands, 280 looks completely insurmountable. Our batsmen needed to survive until stumps to give us a prayer. It wasn’t to be. Moeen was trapped LBW – heavens knows why Cook encouraged him to review it – and Bell was caught on the crease and clean bowled.

Cook and Root are our best batsmen by far but neither looked comfortable at the close. Both would have been given out lbw on another day. Pakistan burned their reviews trying to overturn these decisions – perhaps our only crumb of comfort going into the final day.

It will take something incredibly special for England to pull this off. A draw is no good so we’ll have to go for the runs. And when that happens, wickets inevitably fall. I sense someone will have to go on the attack, and really ride their luck, to get us close.

I don’t want to write England’s obituary quite yet, but the journos will be getting itchy fingers. Perhaps there will be some obituaries for England players tonight – and not just ones for Tom Graveney, the great English batsman who sadly passed away yesterday.

Let’s just hope that the experiment with Moeen Ali at the top of the order comes to an end. It was always a ridiculous idea. His confidence is now shot and it has affected his bowling too. Has he played his last test match? I think it’s a possibility no matter how unfair.

As for Ian Bell, he looked like a dead man walking as he trudged back to the pavilion. Good players shouldn’t get cleaned bowled; but good players who are somewhat past their best often do.

 James Morgan

Meanwhile, over in South Africa, some guy called Kevin Pietersen just scored 115 off just 66 balls for the Dolphins in South Africa’s T20 tournament. You can hear his reaction below. I’d like to know who this guy is and whether he’s eligible for England < stirs pot and walks away grinning mischievously >.

2015-11-04T15:27:04+00:00November 4th, 2015|News, PakvEng2015|9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Jennyah46 November 4, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Unless he decides to retire I believe we will see both Bell and Moeen Ali in the squad for South Africa. I did hear talk earlier in the day of Bell opening in Durban but after this evening I doubt it. I have a horrible feeling they might try opening with Root again, but I certainly hope not.

    We have got to go for these runs tomorrow and I’ve heard Jimmy saying we have the players to do it but at the same time, going on past experience, expecting to have his pads on at some time tomorrow! I think we all know where is is coming from.

    Wishing them well and against all odds hoping for the best.

  2. Nigel November 4, 2015 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    I think you’re being slightly harsh on the spinners.
    Granted, they did not bowl brilliantly. At all.
    On the other hand, they came into this match with the grand total of 15 tests between them; Rashid only two.
    …and if Barstow hadn’t failed to pick Rashid’s googly and taken the stumping first thing, then we might just have been celebrating a famous victory already.

    Fine margins – and should the unlikely happen, and we win tomorrow, then the analysis will be quite different. Particularly as we’re carrying an injured seamer/all-rounder.

    The real problem, I think, is the balance of the team. Mooen opening, and playing three spinners doesn’t make a lot of sense.
    If we have two spinners who can do the business, there’s not all that much point in playing three; if we don’t, then there’s no point in playing three.

    • James Morgan November 4, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      Yes I agree about the balance of the side. Three part time spinners isn’t much better than two. Although Patel batted well in the first innings, I bet England wish Plunkett was playing instead – especially now that Stokes can’t bowl.

      Stokes has been missed. He might have scored 60 runs in this match (his test average is 30 I recall) and he probably would’ve picked up a couple of wickets too.

      Perhaps I shouldn’t have put all three spinners in the same bracket. Rashid actually bowled ok, and you’re right to say that stumping could have made a difference. However, I still think Pakistan would have emerged on top.

      • Nigel November 4, 2015 at 11:20 pm - Reply

        Maybe, but Hafeez played an outstanding innings; had he been stumped, it’s equally possible that Pakistan might have folded like an out of form Ian Bell…

        And please note, we haven’t lost, yet…

  3. SimonH November 4, 2015 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Those not up at 6am can be forgiven for not knowing – because very few of the press reports are mentioning it – that England’s missed chances weren’t only a stumping and a catch.

    Misbah on nought lobbed up a catch to short leg off Anderson – but there wasn’t a short leg. Hafeez in the 110s edged Broad through second slip at catchable height – but there wasn’t a second slip. Those two missed opportunities cost 80 runs.

    I’m afraid that Cook’s supposed transformation into captain adventurous melted in the Sharjah heat. Who, really, is surprised? It’s one thing to keep the field in when you’re at home and on top and another to do it abroad and when the game is very tight.

    • James Morgan November 4, 2015 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      I’ve not heard too much criticism of Cook’s captaincy in this series, but you make a very valid point Simon. I think it all comes down to expectations. If one thinks Cook is adequate as a skipper, and doesn’t expect much more, than you’ll probably be relatively satisfied with his performance. However, if you expect more from an international captain (McCullum, Vaughan etc) then you’re right, he’s not meeting those high standards.

      Overall I do think Cook has improved as a skipper, especially now that Bayliss is there to give advice, but I’m not sure he’ll ever be a natural. Of course, there’s always the argument that a captain is only as good as his bowlers. It’s difficult to pick up wickets when you’re relying on Mo, Samit and Adil rather than Swann and Monty.

      • SimonH November 4, 2015 at 6:28 pm - Reply

        Do you think they could’ve done more to improve the ER of the spinners? Not with Rashid perhaps but with Ali and Patel here?

        I’m thinking of Nasser Hussain captaining Ashley Giles in India. Hussain was determined to keep control when Giles bowled and was willing to go to a 7-2 legside field to achieve it. I’m not necessarily calling for that precise tactic to be repeated but I’m sure Nasser would have been more pro-active about trying solutions to what has a major problem all tour.

        • James Morgan November 4, 2015 at 7:37 pm - Reply

          It’s an interesting point. Maybe with Patel but Moeen is bowling too many bad balls. Giles had his faults, but at least he was pretty accurate.

      • Nigel November 4, 2015 at 11:15 pm - Reply

        Speaking of McCullum, I thoroughly recommend this article:
        http://www.thecricketmonthly.com/story/930801/a-touch-of-baz

        Those leading England ought to read it, and then take a long hard look in the mirror.

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