Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 26, 2020

England vs Pakistan 2020 – The Report Cards

England

Rory Burns (20 runs at 5; 3 catches) – He was twice out LBW and twice caught in the cordon, which is not a good look against a new ball that is always going to shape in the air and deviate off the proud seam. After a series with no failures, a series with no successes. A fallible slipping technique did not help matters. Grade E.

Dom Sibley (98 runs at 25; 0 wickets; 3 catches) – In a tough series for openers, he twice batted two and a half hours to blunt the new ball and help set a platform. Grade B-.

Joe Root (94 runs at 31; 1 wicket at 42; 6 catches) – It will irk him as much as it does us that he gets the hard work done so often before he’s walking back to the pavilion with a “nothing” score. That said, his 42 contributed to the 96 on the scoreboard before handing over to Buttler and Woakes for their First Test chase to 277 – so that can count as “something”. For a man with the weaponry he can deploy in English conditions, he appears too sanguine about a drifting session of play. Shaking hands with 15 overs in hand, just two wickets from Yasir Shah and three Number 11s, was inexplicable with World Test Championship points at stake. Had Buttler and Woakes with the bat, and Ben Stokes with the ball, not rescued a losing position in the First Test, he might have faced more scrutiny about his captaincy. Grade C+.

Zak Crawley (320 runs at 160; 1 catch) –  Who expected the promise of July to deliver as soon as August? Balance is the key to his game, head, hands and feet instinctively in the right place at the right time for his array of attacking strokes. Roll in height and reach, allied to the surprisingly light footwork he uses to determine length to his taste, and England may have discovered the heir to Kevin Pietersen. He’ll have tougher days (especially as the analysts will be examining his game in minute detail) but the sky’s the limit for a batsman with his gifts.  Grade A+.

Ben Stokes (9 runs at 5; 2 wickets at 6; 2 catches) –  When Mohammad Rizwan was threatening to make a stiff target unreachable, an injured Ben Stokes (playing as a batsman) grabbed the ball and got him out, later adding a bunny to puff the stats a little. It was remarkable but also, somehow, expected. Compassionate leave opened up his spot for Zak Crawley – they’ll soon be batting together. Grade B+.

Ollie Pope (81 runs at 20) – Top scored in the first innings of the First Test, allowing England to retain a toehold in a match they were losing, but Yasir Shah’s box of tricks subsequently proved too much for a player still finding his feet at the highest level. Grade B.

Jos Buttler (265 runs at 88; 9 catches) – Those who supported their man through thick and thin were vindicated, but so too were those who claimed that he didn’t (then) have the technique for Test match batting. The small but significant tweaks we saw in the West Indies series – a modified forward trigger, the head going at the ball and not falling away, footwork more nimble, less leaden – paid off handsomely in two masterful innings of forbearance and character, one to win the First Test, the other to secure the series. On the other side of the wickets, we got the soft smiles of satisfaction that came with spectacular catching and a few scowls from bowlers as sitters were spilled. Still not the extraordinarily dominant player seen so often in white ball cricket, but a batsman who has finally found a method that works and used it to deliver game-changing innings. Grade A-.

Chris Woakes (143 runs at 72; 6 wickets at 28; 1 catch) – That he batted with such freedom to end a dry run might be expected – he has the talent and, five down with still 160 to get, what’s there to lose? But to get his team from “possibly” to “probably” to “definitely” with all the attendant pressures of a big fourth innings chase? That’s top class all-rounder work, not just a bowler who bats catching a lucky break.  Grade A.

Sam Curran (DNB; 1 wicket at 44) –  Knocked over a well set Abid Ali in the truncated Second Test in a generally tidy bowling display. Grade B.

Dom Bess (28 runs at 28; 3 wickets at 79) –  Is he the new Chris Schofield, whom Michael Atherton once snippily described as “A better batsman than he is a bowler.” A real competitor, trying so hard and aching to succeed, but is he the best spin option right now?  “Not even for Somerset”, is the rather damning reply, as his off-breaks were cut at will on a fifth day pitch. Grade D.

Jofra Archer (16 runs at 16; 4 wickets at 40) – He bowled very fast indeed at times with the infamous bouncer that disturbs – read hits – the very best batsmen when set on a flat deck. He doesn’t always get the wickets he deserves, but there’s no captain in the world who wouldn’t want him in their phalanx of rotating quicks. Grade B-.

Stuart Broad (51 runs at 26; 13 wickets at 16) – The infamous petulant/passionate (delete to taste) reaction to being dropped for the first Test of the summer has fired a five Tests long fit of fury that has seen the stumps targeted relentlessly (even when fielding). Did we ever doubt the 500 wickets man? We did, but not in this late “sitting on the top of off stump” incarnation that asks so many questions of batsmen that they inevitably just have to get some wrong. Grade A.

James Anderson (7 runs at 7; 11 wickets at 23) – Like a practised conjuror who shows you the Queen of Hearts then whisks it from sight only to produce it from your zipped inside jacket pocket, Anderson’s skills of misdirection allow him to produce the ball on sixth stump when you see it on off and on off stump when you felt it was almost wide enough to leave. How much more Test cricket is in him, time will tell, but it would be a brave selector indeed who can find three or four better options than the 600 man for the first Test of summer 2021. Grade A-.

Pakistan

Shan Masood (179 runs at 36; 0 wicket; 1 catch) – An outstanding 156 in the first innings of the series put his team ahead in a match they were winning for all but the last two hours or so. Thereafter, he struggled, as England’s wily old pair of pacers targeted his pads and swing and seam did the rest. Grade B.

Abid Ali (139 runs at 28) – His compact, orthodox style is a throwback to the pre-Sehwag, pre-Warner school of opening batsmen who get in and graft for their runs. Despite his modest returns, he batted over an hour in four innings of five in tough conditions, so he can be pleased with his work. Grade B.

Azhar Ali (210 runs at 53;  0 wicket) – The effigies were being readied as one of cricket’s gentlemen couldn’t buy a run and had failed to drive home a winning position as captain in the First Test. Then ,having toughed it out early on in the Third Test, he unfurled a sublime exhibition of subcontinental batting, solid defence punctuated by languid drives and controlled cuts and pulls that had this observer thinking of Zaheer Abbas. With the follow-on enforced, as the man in form, not out in the first dig and with eyes adjusted to the gloaming, he had the cojones to walk out in light so challenging that he did not, as it turned out, have to take guard. What mattered is that he was willing to do so for his team. His grace on the field and in interviews, under pressure, deep into weeks of lockdown, far from home, in miserable weather, does him, his country and cricket great honour. Grade A.

Babar Azam (195 runs at 49; 1 catch) –  He arrived with a reputation that marked him out as the successor to the great Younis Khan, who looked on, coach’s notebook in hand. In glimpses, you could see why, but batting in England is a hard road to travel and innings that promised to shape days merely shaped sessions.  Grade B+.

Asad Shafiq (67 runs at 13; 1 wicket at 24; 3 catches) –  The senior pro with plenty of experience in England, he never looked at ease and found ways of getting out that evidenced his lack of confidence. Grade D.

Shadab Khan (60 runs at 30; 2 wickets at 24; 2 catches) – A livewire in the field, a smile never far from his lips, he batted and bowled with plenty of confidence and showed enough to suggest that he might grow into a Ravindra Jadeja type player for Pakistan. Grade B.

Fawad Alam (21 runs at 11; 2 wickets at 23; 1 catch) – He infamously waited over a decade for another chance at Test cricket and promptly made a four ball duck. His esoteric face forward, bat raised stance, followed by a hop into a side on crouch as the bowler hits the crease, has delivered big runs in domestic cricket, but whether such a blizzard of movements can work at the highest level remains to be seen. Grade C.

Mohammad Rizwan (161 runs at 40; 5 catches, 1 stumping) – He seized the gloves from ex-skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (not a development met with universal acclaim) and it was easy to see why. An outstanding, if not flawless keeper, he batted with sound judgment and no little aggression and displayed that extra bit of vim all glovemen need. When he stumped Crawley to end his monumental innings, he celebrated, then led the charge of Pakistanis to congratulate the young Englishman – a wonderful moment in our game. Grade B+

Yasir Shah (63 runs at 16; 11 wickets at 33; 1 catch) –  The veteran turned his leg-break, hurried on his top spinner and threatened, even if the old one wasn’t quite there, to slip in the googly, all done with the bounce of his much missed predecessor, Abdul Qadir. The challenge of leading an inexperienced attack in English conditions proved a little too much in the end, but I shan’t be alone in hoping to see him open his box of tricks one more time in front of English crowds come the next tour Grade B.

Mohammad Abbas (6 runs at 2; 5 wickets at 36) –  Really? Five wickets? Every time you looked at the screen, he was wobbling one past a groping batsman like a Lancashire League pro hoping for a decent collection. But sometimes it’s like that – the ball hits the middle or fails to carry off the edge or misses the bat completely. Were he a little taller and a little quicker, he’d be his near namesake, Mohammad Asif, and he’d have 15 wickets and not five. Grade C+.

Shaheen Shah Afridi (14 runs at 5; 5 wickets at 52) –  He swung it into the pads, seamed it away towards the cordon and tried out the middle of the pitch with some sharpish short stuff, but, once the shine and hardness left the new ball, he looked like a 20 year old making his way in the game. Grade C.

Naseem Shah (5 runs at 2; 3 wickets at 69) – It was no hype! The kid has the most beautiful flowing action that can generate 90mph at will and possesses a heart that keeps him charging in and bowling fast. But he doesn’t yet know how to get batsmen out – how could he at 17? Grade C-.


Responses

  1. It felt a bit like The Anderson Show at times yesterday. England showed no desire to win the test match, evinced by Sibley having a bowl. In the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter I suppose and Anderson fully deserves his accolades but I wonder would the same policy have been followed if there had been a full house?
    Also a note of sympathy for Jack Leach. Two series against right-handed batting lineups and not a single turnout. It seems to be a lasting obsession with England they pick players of a certain mould which Bess, due to his combative nature, seems to fit better. Leach runs the risk of having his lasting legacy as a kind of figure of fun – patronising interview with Agnew and Vaughan on TMS – meanwhile his confidence as a bowler suffers. Somerset won’t show him the same kind of disrespect and it is feasible to suggest both he and Bess will still be vying for first-spinner pick down at Taunton for the duration of next season

    • At Taunton, if Leach is available, he plays.

      One over of Sibley was okay – batsmen can slash one to deep point from that stuff.


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