Posted by: tootingtrumpet | January 20, 2012

Pakistan vs England First Test – England Report Card

Saeed Ajmal with his ten England wickets

Andrew Strauss (19 and 6) – Shorn of his lucky charm (Tim Bresnan who averages 45 with the bat and 24 with the ball, winning all ten of his Tests) the magic disappeared from England’s captain as quickly as a thief in a souk. Played a hideous stroke in the first innings that set the template for plenty more and, for once, seemed short of coherent, consistent plans in the field. All sides can have bad matches and captaincy can only be judged over a year or more; but applying that time scale to his batting speaks of a man who has not averaged more than 35 in 2010 nor in 2011. Has much work to do in both his roles, the two toughest in any side, after a sharp reminder that the game isn’t easy.

Alastair Cook (3 and 5) – Newly married and sailing on a wave of end of year sports review plaudits, he is currently 758 runs short of last winter’s tour tally. Out-thought by fellow opener Mohammad Hafeez in the first innings and strangled in the second, the fact remains that he was out early twice playing horizontal bat shots on a pitch that demanded that the ball be met with a vertical blade. His success is built on playing the percentages through careful shot selection allied to ferocious concentration – he’ll be looking to go back to safety first in Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Trott (17 and 49, 1-16) – Caught behind off inside and outside edges playing uncharacteristically forcing strokes that probably lie somewhere outside his famous bubble. Might claim in mitigation that he had an almost strokeless and increasingly skittish Strauss for company in the first dig and was the last specialist batsman in the second, but the bigger picture has seldom clouded his thought processes in the past.           

KP (2 and 0) – Oh dear! Paralysed by the fear of what might happen in the first innings, an agonising 39 balls were spent accumulating 2 before he missed a straightish one and was LBW on review. In an over-reaction the scale of which perhaps only he could manage, second time round he holed out at deep square leg trying to get off the mark to leave England 25-3 and the game – already sliding – gone. The defeat, and his contribution to it, will have stung and a reaction is expected (and needed).

Ian Bell (0 and 4) – Done twice by that footpad stealer of wickets Saeed Ajmal’s weapon of choice, the doosra. Neither ball did much, but both did enough to see off England’s recent run-machine. Time to get back to the discipline of watching the ball closely from hand to bat.

Eoin Morgan (24 and 14) – Faced up with the board showing 42-4 in the first innings and 35-4 in the second, he did little to dispel the growing feeling that he might be a flat-track bully who plays by numbers. His ability to manufacture shots that squirt into unexpected places thus allowing him to rotate the strike, is invaluable at 6, but not if his mind is saying “Block – sweep – cut – reverse sweep – block – punch” at the start of every over.

Matt Prior (70* and 4, 1catch and 1stumping) – Understandably nervous of demons in the pitch when arriving at the crease after a clatter of four wickets in half an hour, he showed maturity in forcing himself to come forward with a defensive bat and dig in for the long haul. Left high and dry on 70 three and a half hours later, sorely missing Bresnan’s nous at the other end. The jig was up by the time he was out in the second dig, but he’ll be pleased with a tidy display behind the stumps.

Stuart Broad (8 and 17, 3-84) – With Prior set after making 19 off 70 balls, Broad played a horribly ill-advised pre-mediated sweep to be palpably LBW… then reviewed it – not smart cricket. On a pitch that demanded a tight line, bowled too much that could be left alone. England will be looking for cannier cricket from a player who has shown that he can read match situations with bat and ball and whose tactical sense is talked up by the coaching staff.

Graeme Swann (34 and 39, 4-107) – Pretty much the ideal pitch for Swanny – a bit of grip that meant his sharply revving off-breaks occasionally turned significantly, but plenty of balls that squatted and skidded bringing bowled and LBW into play. Without the threat of the ball leaping up to hit him in his motormouth, he could biff away with impunity and did so to good effect twice. Had he any support from the top six batsmen (who mustered a dismal  143 runs for their 12 wickets), he would have been a handful in the second innings. Will be looking forward to the return trip to Dubai for the Third Test a lot more than will his colleagues.

Chris Tremlett (1 and 0, 0-53) – An anonymous tower in a land of anonymous towers, he did little to answer the bar-room selectors pining for Monty. Like all England’s bowlers, he seemed a notch or two down on pace and attack through the crease and failed, inevitably, to generate the bat-jarring bounce that unsettles the best batsmen.

Jimmy Anderson (12 and 15*, 2-71) – Kept giving the ball a chance to swing and it obliged from time to time. Attacked the stumps or bowled a bouncer, which are the only two balls worth bowling on that wicket, but will have noted that his opposite number, Umar Gul, knocked the top off the England second innings batting, after he had failed to dismiss any of Pakistan’s top five.

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Responses

  1. Oh, how i pine for a 5 day test.

  2. Plz shere afghanistan cricket news becouse i am afghani and i like this site .

  3. So is the “teesra” going to keep batsmen awake at night?

  4. “Jonathan Trott…but the bigger picture has seldom clouded his thought processes in the past.”
    Hmm, still trying to work out if that was a criticism or a compliment. A silk glove or a stiletto. Nicely put.

    England got to the top by digging into the youth development program of SA, and playing a “don’t stuff it up” brand of cricket. Coinciding with Aus, SL, Ind all declining, and SA being wobbly at times, it was enough. It may not get them much further though, particularly with the bowling being developed in Aus and SA, and their problems with spin. A few halos are starting to slip.

    You’re pretty generous with Swann, just referring to his biffing. Or was his bowling just not worth mentioning? Thrown into starck relief by his opposite numbers. (Imagine being an opener and being dismissed by your opposite number in Over 6 of the day).

    I found a video streaming site and caught bit of it. The pouty look on Broads face as his delivery is sent to the boundary is one of the joys of cricket, it never fails to make me chuckle. (Whenever I’m feeling down I just dig out the You Tube clip of Yuvraj hitting him for six sixes, it always cheers me up).

    Pakistan, as usual, defy all rational explanation. How can such a traumatised team produce such a coherent and solid performance? Extraordinary. I had begun to take less pleasure watching them as I could not be sure what I was watching exactly (eg. that back from the dead “win” by Aus in Sydney a few years back), but this was pretty solid. Can’t wait to see the teesra.:)

  5. Very funny description of Morgan’s style. I’ve never thought of it like that but it’s pretty accurate.

  6. Morgan is 4 years Bell’s junior. If you think he’s more dynamic than any others of that age going around then it’s one of Flower’s jobs to develop him. He didn’t go out and do a Haddin (Or is it called doing a Peitersen in England?). He did show he was able to stop a flurry of wickets continuing (he was involved in the 5th and 6th biggest partnerships of the game) at least for an hour or so. More disappointed that he didn’t capitalise on his starts in either innings.

    • There’s a lot of faith been shown in him and it may pay off. Whether he becomes a Bell or a Bopara remains to be seen.


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