Wake Me Up When It’s Over – Day One in Abu Dhabi

The opening day of a new test series always brings excitement and a sense of anticipation. Supporters are on the edge of their seats; you can hear the hum of distant chatter emanating from packed stands.

How will the pitch play? Will there be early moisture? What will a good total be? All these questions are spinning around anxious minds. The tension is almost tangible. Unless you’re in the UAE of course.

There was something so utterly depressing about today’s proceedings. Has it really been three years since we lost 0-3 in this godforsaken hellhole? The UAE is surely the place where exciting cricket goes to die. You can’t even get a bloody drink as anesthetic.

When England lost the toss my stomach immediately sank. You just knew what sort of day it would be: zero swing, zero movement, zero chance of getting Pakistan out cheaply. You’re basically waiting for the declaration after ball one. If only we had a couple of good spinners to make a game of it. If only …

I suppose 286-4 is about as good as we could’ve hoped for. Who knows, if Bell had taken that chance early on (an absolute sitter as far as slip catches go) we might have put ourselves in a decent position. But nothing good ever comes out of series in this part of the world. What did we expect?

Our frustrations were heightened by the fact that Broad took another wicket off a no-ball. This really has to stop – and I don’t actually blame the bowlers. If they’re not warned when they’re getting close to the line, then how do they know when to move back a bit?

The bottom line is that the umpires are not doing their job properly. Yes, I accept they’ve already got a lot on their plate, but nobody said umpiring was easy. Perhaps they should try bowling on these slow, low, lifeless surfaces. I think they’d find that even harder.

I’d be interested to know what you all made of today’s play. I imagine many of you feel the same way as myself. Our bowlers tried their best, and it’s hard to criticise them in the circumstances, but I was a little disappointed with Rashid and Moeen to be honest. They looked pretty innocuous.

I really hope Rashid comes good, but he had a bit of a mixed day. Rameez Raja was expressing doubts about his test pedigree after just a handful of overs. Hmmm. Not good. Time will tell as always I suppose. We’ve got to give the bloke a chance.

James Morgan


  • Not sure I agree with the article. If you look at the history of UAE series, they always have outcomes, series wins or 1-1 draws. I don’t recall any 0-0 series in the last 6/7 years.

    Whilst there is no movement, swing or moist, does that de-value it? Not sure it does. The beauty of this game is the flexibility, different surfaces, different challenges and conditions. If (more often than not) tests results in a win/lose outcome, that’s surely good for cricket. Just because England aren’t as flexible in playing in different conditions doesn’t make it tedious or boring. Rather than moan and complain, perhaps more focus should be paid to why their aren’t many swing bowlers and spinners about in the English scene?

    • All perfectly valid points, but the raison d’etre of this blog is to give a very English perspective & convey the emotions of England supporters. We generally find games on sporting wickets to be more gripping and entertaining. If 500 is a par score, as some in the commentary box were suggesting, then it’s not a good pitch for cricket. The empty stands tell a story.

      However, as someone remarked on Twitter, perhaps we shouldn’t judge a pitch until England’s batsmen have had a chance to collapse on it :-)

  • A cricket game taking place in an empty stadium doesn’t sit easily with me. I’m sure there are plenty of us listening and watching and different surfaces are always interesting but I can’t deny a lack of buzz about the whole thing.

    The 51 days without has seemed like a very long time to wait to see England playing again but at least we have something and for that at least I’m happy.

    The dropped catches were very disappointing and the no ball from Broad unusual and dispiriting. It’s got to stop and I agree with James. The umpires should be doing their job better.

    Unfortunate from the spinners but they must expect to be attacked. Cook needs to set fields to counteract the potential damage. We know they are not the most proficient spinners in the world.

    The team selection was as expected. Such a bore. I would have liked to see Taylor in and Bairstow keeping just or now, even if not for the long term. We might see Taylor replacing Bell but no matter how Bell performs with the bat I doubt it.

    My one criticism of Cook is the he likes to keep his friends/familiar faces around him.

    Understand your point of view James. Much of it taints my enjoyment of this series also. Just pleased to see England playing test cricket again.

    Thanks for your contribution as always.

    • I agreed, the sight of England playing in an empty stadium really is disheartening, it’s amazing how the lack of crowd affects the atmosphere on the tv coverage.

      I guess if circumstances were different we’d be playing to capacity crowds in Islamabad etc.

  • Don’t think I got out of bed the wrong side, just stating it how I see it. James could have at least given some credit to younis Khan – now the greatest pak batsman. You only have to look at his avg home and away to note that. Also, I would have thought a century from Malik coming back from 5 years might get a few words?

    But, no, all we got was a good whinge and a moan about how hearts sank when England lost toss and we have to wait for declaration. Pakistan picked up 60 wickets 3 years ago and won 3-0, picked up 40 against Aussies last year to win 2-0. South Africa have beaten Pakistan 3 times. NZ won last year, How come they can do it by bowling teams out and England can’t? Again, rather than point the finger at conditions and circumstances, perhaps look at own weaknesses and improvement opportunities?

    • I think the got out of bed comment was directed at me Zadran. Simon is a regular here and it was just a bit of banter. There will be plenty of talk about Younis another day. These daily reports are just an instant reaction to get discussion going.

    • Apologies Zadran – I meant James rather than yourself! I agree with pretty much all that you said.

      While there’s a place for the occasional two-and-a-bit day Test on a juiced up greentop I’m rather pleased to see some matches that are going to ebb and flow over four or five days. 16 of the 22 Tests in UAE have ended in results so there’s usually enough in the pitches for bowlers who know how to use them. England’s seamers should have taken seven wickets today which is hardly a bowlers’ graveyard. It lacks bounce but there is reverse swing and a little seam movement. The wrist spinner turned a few and the finger spinner didn’t which seems fair enough on the first day.

      • Almost 400-4 at lunch. There is no bounce, no pace, and no movement of any kind. It’s a terrible, terrible cricket wicket. I’m not saying all pitches in the UAE are like this, but I don’t like cricket when there isn’t an even contest between bat and ball. On the evidence so far, it is very much a bowler’s graveyard. If England get rolled over cheaply I imagine it will be due to exhausting and scoreboard pressure, not the pitch. Our batsmen will be under cooked and knackered after fielding for 2 days in 38 degree temperatures.

        • True, but perhaps rather than our usual scoreboard pressure induced collapse, Bell at the heart of it, we can weigh in and bat out a draw… then can we take the high ground and start the finger pointing at the pitch.

          • Good start from Cook and Mo this afternoon. Long way to go, but their spinner didn’t seem to be getting much out of the surface either thus far.

  • What is the point of this test Series? A neutral ground, no spectators ( certainly no alcohol)!
    I don’t see any point or interest in it. Who benefits from it? I can only see the broadcasters!
    Ok we may get to No 2 in the rankings if we win the series…..so what? I am sure like me, most supporters have no interest.
    I think the cricket authorities have knocked the stuffing out of most genuine supporters anyway and are just furthering their own financial interests.
    From being a die hard English cricket fan I have been ignored, laughed at, been called outside of cricket…so why would I watch this rubbish. They can’t even put a coherent team together. No idea on openers, bowling attack (openers or spin) wicket keepers etc.
    Sorry English cricket is a joke and doesn’t warrant support until the management wakes up.

  • I don’t know why you went in expecting anything else than what is happenning. Australia went here after beating SA at home and got done in the UAE and we are used to playing in the heat even if this is a notch above the WACA. England, who pretty much demonstrated in the Ashes that when the ball wasn’t swinging and seaming were basically toothless, were never going to do well here.

    And do you think its asking too much to have Moeen Ali to bowl 30-40 overs in the searing heat and then open the batting?

    AS Zadran points out by and large these UAE tests are generally results, the conditions favour them but is it any different from a green top requested for your bowling attack?

  • “Has it really been three years since we lost 0-3 in this godforsaken hellhole?”

    Closer to four actually. ;)

    When we’re in SA, I hope you say “Has it really been six years since we drew 1-1 here, having toured both Australia and the UAE twice each since then?”

    If you don’t, I will!

    • Our lack of action against SA is criminal really. These series are almost as popular as the Ashes. I don’t think we’re playing them in a longer series for a long time :-(

  • The good news is that they have finally declared. Our two spinners taking 0-284 between them! And now poor old Mo has got to go and open the batting after bowling 30 overs! As we are busy playing people in the wrong position, can Taylor open? The following looks a lot more balanced to me – Cook, Taylor, Bell, Root, Moeen, Bairstow (wkt), Stokes, Broad, Rashid, Wood, Anderson

    What has Cook’s captaincy been like? How well or not has he rotated the bowlers. I looks to me from what I have read that Rashid was used far too much and the seamers not enough

    Are there any smaller grounds in the UAE? If they could fill up a small ground with 500 people it would have a lot more atmosphere than this


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