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.
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 >.