Monday, 28 May 2018

Worst home test performance since '99

The first test has come and gone in the blink of an eye.  May in England, result is a nine wicket win inside ten sessions, sounds familiar?  Only it was England on the receiving end of the thrashing.  Normally a test match dominates my mind and routine for a few days.  My body and mental state ebbs and flows with the match.  In short I get emotional about England playing a test match.  Not throughout this match, from the first home wicket (if not the first ball) I have just felt numb, the course of the match has not even moved me to swear when another lame wicket fell.  I do hope this isn't permanent, I suspect it's just because another England defeat, even one as bad as this, isn't a big deal anymore.

So the match, Root wins the toss, its a murky May morning ideal for bowling.  In his side he has possibly the two best English seamers of all time, the opposition is young and has little experience in England.  What does the captain do?  He chooses to bat...  Probably his biggest tactical cock up since he inserted Australia at Adelaide.  His on field captaincy was underwhelming throughout the match too; it's as if he's trying too hard to be clever.  His waft at a wide ball on day one was just shocking.

England's batting on the first day was limp, aside from Cook proving class is permanent, the rest were almost as bad as they first test in New Zealand.  All out for 180 odd?  No problem, these are home conditions, the bowlers will get us out of trouble.  To be fair England bowled okay but the fielding was piss poor and Pakistan's batsmen scrapped hard enough to get a decent lead.

England's second knock was almost the same, only Root stood up amongst the tumbling top order but once again he failed to reach three figures.  The one bright note was Bess and Buttler coming together down the order, taking time to play themselves in then batting sensibly and punishing bad bowling.  Could we make a game of this yet?  No, another all too predictable collapse on day four and it's all over before lunch.

This has to be the worst home test performance since 1999 when England capitulated against a barely competent New Zealand side (certainly not as good as the kiwi team that beat us earlier in the year).  It's easy to forget last year when this England team lost a test to possibly the worst West Indian team to visit these shores.  But this was even worse than that too, the batting and fielding was village green standard and the bowling too wide.  Credit to Pakistan who outplayed England in all disciplines of the game.  However this was a truly pathetic performance by the home side.

The selectors have acted quickly in dropping Mark Stoneman who in truth, in eleven tests has consistently done just enough to retain his place, without ever looking like a test cricketer.  In this match he stood on the crease and allowed the Pakistani bowlers to chuck whatever they wanted at him.  Much the same was Dawad Malan who hangs onto his spot for now but despite a century in OZ he doesn't look the part to me.  Both Stoneman and Malan found it impossible to take a single and get off strike while Root at the other end did it with apparent ease.

England have the best ODI team in the world yet regular match winners from this team don't get a look in for test matches.  Two cases in point are Alex Hales and Adil Rashid who have done as well as any recent newcomers to the test side but now choose to play only white ball cricket.  Jason Roy destroys opposition bowlers too, we've tried everyone else so why not him?  Dare I say it the much maligned (by me) Gary Ballance has by far the best record of test newcomers in the last four years, but he should never be in the top three!

I can't get my head round Bairstow's move up the order.  Yes he has become a class batsman but what he does at No.7 works so why change it?  If Joss Buttler is picked as a batsman then stick him up the order!  Dom Bess' debut will be remembered for a gutsy half century and that type of batting may come in handy if his career is prolonged.  However that depends on his bowling, in this match he sent down some decent off spin but just about every over had one 'hit me' ball.  Was this a serious long term selection?  Or is it an arrogant fill in pick while others come back from injury?

Another man to come in and out of the team, then in and out again is Nick Compton and to be fair he has done as well as anyone.  In his latest incarnation as a Sky sports pundit he suggests moving Cook down to three and picking a new, young opening partnership.  In recent years England have rarely passed fifty without losing a couple of wickets so why not?  We have nothing to lose!

The next test is at Headingly on Friday and from here it's hard to see anything other than another Pakistan win.  We've seen England bounce back in the past but it's difficult to imagine them improving enough to beat a very good Pakistan team.  I hope I'm wrong, I usually am.


No comments:

Post a comment