For three and a half days, although not exactly dominant, England were clearly on top of the test match. In a few crazy hours of atrocious batting they managed to somehow lose, not only the match but also the series. The first we have lost in three years since another crazy collapse in Jamaica. From that point England rebuilt to become the number one test team in the world. Let’s hope we can do something similar and go on to become even stronger. This is actually history repeating itself as the first tour after the 2005 Ashes was an away defeat to…Pakistan.
I expect there will be casualties in the batting line up. Eoin Morgan has never proved himself at test level despite being dominant in ODI and in the short term I‘d expect to see Ravi Bopara replace him at number six. I’m a big fan of Andrew Strauss the batsman and as captain. He’s been part of the two English teams that have given me the most pleasure and happy memories since 1981. However his own recent form and this result will be putting pressure on him.
The first innings saw a few uncharacteristic fielding lapses which cost runs, maybe enough to have contributed to the overall result. The bowlers cannot be faulted, all four had good games and it was really pleasing to see Monty Panesar come back into test cricket with a six for. Coincidently I’d just finished reading “Monty’s turn”, his autobiography written in 2007/08 when his career and popularity was at its peak. The modest, lovable character that the English fans took to their hearts shines from the page and I always like reading players accounts of matches I’ve watched, either on TV or in the stands.
A word or two about Pakistan, who have now won the series. It’s good for the world game to see a disciplined, organised, unified team playing good cricket. This side does not seem to have the flair players of years gone by and if Pakistan could combine the discipline with the flair then they would be world beaters. However I may be biased but in my opinion Pakistan have not won this series as much as England have lost it.
What next for England? Well there’s another test next week and the bookies will probably be going for another Pakistan win. England’s batsmen have not become bad players overnight but it’s hard to see them bouncing back strongly just yet. Later in the spring we have another difficult tour of Sri Lanka with more turning pitches but no bowlers with the quality of Ajmal. I think England will do much better there.