Posted by: tootingtrumpet | January 29, 2012

Pakistan vs England Second Test – England Report Card

England's second innings in the sands of Abu Dhabi.

Andrew Strauss (11 and 32) – Two more starts and two more failures for England’s captain, whose poor run with the bat is no longer masked by big runs from England’s spluttering superstar bats. Led the team well in the field, but, in the toughest slot in the order, he must also lead the batting effort. England’s six specialist batsmen have contrived just 187 for eighteen times out in three of the four innings in this series and that’s a recipe for defeats. The “Whither Strauss?” whispers are growing.

Alastair Cook (94 and 7) – Got England to two short of 200 in the first innings in a return to the serene form of last winter, but could not get going in the second dig when England needed to put Pakistan’s bowlers on the back foot (and get themselves, literally and metaphorically, off it). His last ten innings have produced seven scores of 12 or lower, which isn’t helping his skipper locate his elusive form.

Jonathan Trott (74 and 1) – Did the Jonathan Trott thing again in the first innings to accompany Cook to England’s highest stand of the series (one of only two of 50 or more). Ill in the second innings when playing a shot that made everyone sick.

KP (14 and 1) – Might be a little relieved that Eoin Morgan is drawing some of the critics’ fire, but won’t be happy about much else. Is not being given pace to work with and is very vulnerable to the DRS (and the impact the DRS has had on umpires’ willingness to raise the finger) on low-bouncing pitches where even his wide stance and long reach cannot save him. Appears burdened by things on his mind and that’s never a good sign for a batsman – especially this one.

Ian Bell (29 and 3) – The plaudits of the summer seem an awfully long time ago, as the man who was seen as the perfect combination of style and substance appears consumed by self-doubt. The game is like that – few have ever mastered it for long and Belly Boy is not the first, nor will be the last, to learn that painful lesson. Will spend a lot of time with the video machine watching Ajmal’s releases – and will spend just as long hoping it makes a difference.

Eoin Morgan (3 and 0) – The fastest hands and the fastest feet in the batting unit are being used merely to propel him to the crease and back again, as the little magician fails to cast any spells. Doubters are no longer holding back on a batsman who has passed 50 only five times in 15 Tests and only 20 more times in all first class cricket.

Matt Prior (3 and 18) – A rare double failure, though he was being left high and dry in the second dig, so, unlike those who went before him, he has mitigation. Looks more and more crucial to the team with every match and will need to take a leadership role on and off the field, to allow Strauss to concentrate on his own game.

Stuart Broad (24-4-47-4 and 20-9-36-1, 58* and 0) – Back to the disciplined bowler and attacking batsman we have come to know in 2011. Having done his primary job with aplomb, he was able to sweep his first ball as a statement of his confidence and continue to bat with a freedom that no other England player has found in either match. Got done by a very good one in the second innings, though will be disappointed to have opened the lefty’s gate for the ball to knock out his off stump. Will play a lot worse and find himself on the winning side.

Graeme Swann (18-2-52-3 and 27-5-66-2, 15 and 0) – Outbowled by the returning Monty, but still exerted pressure and took wickets, so will look to continue when back in Dubai. Joined the shellshocked second innings procession, when his kind of quick thirty (with Matt Prior getting the same at the other end) would have seen England home. But that job should have been done by those picked to do the batting.

Jimmy Anderson (19.4-5-46-2 and 14-3-39-1, 13 and 1) – Led the attack well and took the catch that looked like it had secured a Dubai Decider for England when Asad Shafiq went and exposed the long Pakistan tail. In truth England’s bowlers did more than enough to win this match, so he can be pleased with his work.

Monty (33-9-91-1 and 38.2-18-62-6, 0 and 0*) – Since those glorious heroics at Cardiff back in 2009, he has played 48 First Class matches (note – not one First Class match 48 times). Still has the boyish enthusiasm, the loop in his action and the dubious fielding, but is a stronger character in the team and more willing to take responsibility. Will almost certainly retain his place for Dubai, but long term can England get a second spinner in by playing five bowlers or using Ravi Bopara as first change or maybe, just maybe, rotating Swann and Monty in Tests? Given the quality of the opposition they faced and Monty’s new  demeanour after a change of county, in purely bowling terms Swanny’s 162 wickets at 29 isn’t that much different to Monty’s 133 at 34. If Swanny is going to play all three formats, he would be missed less in Tests than in limited overs matches with this Monty at Strauss’ disposal.

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Responses

  1. Fair report card. Still a little stunned by the result. More fuel for the Pakistan legend.

    • The Legend of Misbah!

      When wins just run up and over a team like that, it is hard to take in.

  2. Maybe pick a series at home and tell Broad he is being picked as an all rounder and go with 2 spinners. I know Broad doesn’t need much to inflate his ego, but I think it’ll enhance his batting even further.

    • I’ve some sympathy Jim, because I think Broad is a more natural batsman than bowler and should average around Pollock’s numbers with the bat. I think they’re committed to 6 + Prior + 4 bowlers though.

      • The shadow of Flintoff is almost as large as the shadow of Warne

  3. I agree that its a fair report card, but somehow by doing individual assessments, the collective failure of the Eng batsmen in chasing down a gettable total – is not coming through.

    Or may be it is more difficult to play world class spin bowling than world class seam and fast bowling? One could expect to leave at least 2-3 deliveries per over of good seam bowling, but a really accurate spinner on a mildly turning track could make you play every ball.

    Still, it just needed one top order batsman to score an aggressive 35 odd runs for Eng to scrape past the line. I thought Bell could be asked to play that role (when I saw Trott’s going to bat down the order). Bell or KP needed to survive for a few overs. They didn’t and one can’t expect Prior and Broad to do their thing in every second innings. This defeat will rankle for a long time I reckon.

    • The failure was collective and you’re right – cards like this do not capture that sufficiently. I tried to allude to it by indicating Strauss’ role as leader of the batting unit and the dismal aggregate of runs from the specialists in three of four innings.

  4. I wonder how long Monty will need to keep performing before people start looking sideways at Swann.

    • A while yet, but Monty is a class act – with the ball anyway.

  5. Just so pleased for Pakistan. So pleased.

    Any chance of a report card for Pakistan? Superb bowling yesterday and the loudest wicket-keeping l’ve ever heard.

    • You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel pleased for a team in turmoil and exile turning things round so well.

      I can’t do a report card for Pakistan as I didn’t see much of the Test as I was in Moldova all week. I’ll do a series card for both after the Third Test.

      Test cricket is unpredictable right now!

  6. l haven’t seen that many appeals since Warney was plying his trade. The keeper was up every 2nd ball! Certainly a steep learning curve for England against such world class spin bowling.

  7. I saw most of the Eng batting (both innings in both tests), and a bit of Pak batting. Obviously Ajmal, Rehman and Hafeez bowled accurately, but just because Eng couldn’t play spin well, does not automatically make Pak spinners world class. As Cook, Trott and Broad showed in the 1st innings, the spinners were very good, but not unplayable.Pak had a decent attack, and the Eng batsmen played into Misbah’s plans.

    At this stage of his international career, I would not rate Ajmal at the same level as Saqlain.Rehman was the surprise packet though. I think many Pakistani fans would agree that this is their second choice bowling attack in Tests. Wahab Riaz in place of Junaid, and Afridi (is he retired from tests?) would make it a more balanced and more consistently threatening attack in all conditions.


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