I have just returned from the UAE where I saw two gripping Test matches. There were shades of England from the 1990s in the play. The disappointment of defeat resulting from an abject batting capitulation. The difference being that I was quite accepting of it 20 years ago, it just went with the territory of a (relatively) poor Test team.
I wasn’t surprised to see England struggle. My pre-series prediction was that England wouldn’t win the series. Pakistan are a talented team. They were in the groove from playing regular cricket and England were rusty from a well earned rest. Unlike in Australia, England had no real competitive cricket ahead of the real thing. A minor nations game whilst an admirable idea wan’t good enough.
Andy Flower has selflessly taken his share of responsibility. But the batting was uniformly poor. 72 all out chasing 145 was a bad old days’ performance that I didn’t see coming at all. With pride to play for and a guaranteed ICC bonus of $450,000, the next innings almost made 145 falling 4 runs short. The tragedy was that we had seized the game by the scruff bowling Pakistan out for 99.
What chance did we have of chasing 324? Not much, but really, England should have got much closer as the pitch had lost its sting. There were also some awful shots played as Bell, Morgan and Broad gave their wickets away.
Strauss says the best batsmen are in the team and the new boys are too inexperienced. I’m not sure that is correct. For sure, Strauss would be the first to be questioned on batting results alone. All bar Morgan have enough credit in the bank to be given another chance in Sri Lanka. I don’t think Morgan has the technique to succeed in Test cricket. He’ll do very well in ODI and T20 and there is time for him to improve his longer game. I don’t know who should replace him but I think a change is needed.
The bowlers were top drawer. Had the fielding been 100% instead of 90% then we might have scraped home too.
There are 9 tough Test matches for England to come this year. If England are still #1 at Christmas then the disappointment in the desert can be seen as just a passing storm.