Pakistan rain on England’s parade, again

Back in 2005 England won the Ashes. It was the first time in ages that England seemed to possess a side that could go on to be a force in world cricket for years to come. They had a very good bowling unit, a world beating all rounder and a solid batting line up.

England need to improve against quality spin bowling. Thankfully for them, they've probably already faced the best going

The first task for Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughn was a trip to Pakistan. A chance to shed the tradition of English failures on the subcontinent. A chance to set out on the path towards world domination.

It didn’t go too well. Defeat in Multan, a draw in Faisalabad and defeat in Lahore was a pin prick to England’s balloon. Sound familiar?

2011, England finally become world number one. There have been highs and lows since 2005, but England, once more, has a very good bowling unit and a solid batting line up.

Once more, the side has been flummoxed by Pakistan.

There are lessons that need to be learnt. To be regarded as a worthy number one, you have to be able to win everywhere. England’s flaw in subcontinent conditions (if not actually on the subcontinent) is all too obvious; a lack of understanding of spin.

Time and again in this series, in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, England have cracked under the pressure of spin. All of the batsmen have looked fidgety and confused, unsure of whether they are coming or going; pressing forward or rocking back.

This Pakistan side, under the careful leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq, is a dangerous one. It has class throughout and England have now probably faced their sternest Test away from home in 2012.

It is difficult to see Sri Lanka and India exerting the same pressure on England as Pakistan. But both sides will have taken heart in the way England disintegrated so easily in the Middle East.

Does the hammering inflicted upon England mean they are unworthy number ones? No. They got to number one by beating the best. They will stay at number one by keeping that up. They also should have won the second Test and gave themselves a fair chance of winning the third in this series.

If they suffer winless series defeats in Sri Lanka and India, however, then they will have proved themselves unworthy number ones. Just look at India; number one a year ago, a side in disarray now. They were unworthy number ones – the BCCI having arranged two years worth of Test series at home now, however, will probably help lift the old boys back up the rankings, though.

What England must work on, then, is playing spin properly in spinning conditions. They have played average spinners elsewhere in recent times with aplomb. Paul Harris, Xavier Doherty, Michael Beer, Nathan Hauritz, Amit Mishra, etc etc, have been flogged.

What is required, then, is a change in approach in the subcontinent. Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss have performed wonders thus far. It surely isn’t beyond them to extract that little bit more from the batting reserves to combat such conditions.

As a footnote, it is also worth considering that, after the 2-0 loss in Pakistan in 2005, England did go on, under Andrew Flintoff, to record a 1-1 series draw in India…

By Miles Reucroft

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2 comments on “Pakistan rain on England’s parade, again

  1. Miles, you probably forgetting that after 1-1 in India, England did go 5-0 down to OZ as well so that would be on their minds as cricket is as much a mental game as it is a physical game ( ask SA abt it as they always choke).

    I’m really happpy and though I predicted a 1-0 win for Pakistan earlier,I still wasn’t 100% sure as Pakistan has a very mediocre batting line up with only Younis Khan as a star batsman, so to win 3-0 with such an average batting and long tail, it’s a massive achievement esp when you are bowled out for 99 in the first innings.

    Surprisingly Pakistan hasn’t got much quality test cricket this year, a series against Bang, Sri and Zim so the batting won’t be tested till early 2013 when they will tour SA and will be exposed probably.

    England on the other hand has a big year ahead of them. In my opinion, they will win in Srilanka 1-0, thrash WI 3-0, draw series against SA 1-1 and a loss in India 2-1.

  2. I think the 5-0 thrashing Down Under can go down as a once in a lifetime catastrophe for England! I think England will draw in Sri Lanka (0-0 across the two Tests) beat WIndies, beat South Africa and then draw in India…

    They bowled very well against Pakistan, it was the batting that let them down, and let them down badly. It was a collective funk that they were in, so I remain optimistic that they will bounce back.

    All credit to Pakistan. They were able to kick England when they were down – something that few other sides have been able to do in recent times, or indeed since that 5-0 thrashing…