England must address sub-continent flaws

Posted: Sunday, January 22, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , ,

Striding into the game as officially the world’s best test side and favourites for victory, England were well and truly humbled against Pakistan in the first test on Thursday.

From a triumphant whitewash of India, a team ranked as the best test side in the world before last summer’s humbling in England, to a test defeat inside three days against a Pakistan team that is no doubt talented but has yet to show it can win at the very top – there are plenty more questions than answers that have emerged from this unpredictable first test.

Having built their success upon a simple formula – a long batting line up and bowlers that posses the weapons to torment batsmen the world over – it was certainly surprising to see England’s top six falter and succumb in the manner they did to Pakistan’s bowling attack.

Ripping pace wasn’t on offer for Umar Gul, a man not exactly noted for his express speed, nor was there a crumbling, turning surface from which Saeed Ajmal to conjure up spin at a right angle, yet English batsmen fell like dominoes for two totals under 200 while Pakistan neared 400 in their solitary effort.

It wasn’t so much demons in the pitch that did for England but in the arm of the bowler, most notably Ajmal, who took ten wickets in the match and became the first spinner to trap seven of his victims LBW in a single match.
Ajmal’s Doosra is a thing of beauty, virtually unreadable from the position of the seam which hints at turn only to go away from the batsman rather than back in at him.

Ian Bell, a noted expert at dealing with spin with a natural talent and beauty, struggled to pick Ajmal’s ‘other ‘delivery, culminating in the Warwickshire man posting two very low scores.

Bell wasn’t the only one caught out of course, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior were all victims at some point in the game, and it is certainly an area of weakness that Pakistan have exposed in an otherwise impenetrable veneer formed by England over the last two years.

Because of their inability to read the ball from the hand, England were forced back into the crease and were caught red handed in front of their stumps, or worse opted for the sweep and became victims that way.

This is not a new problem; England have only won series against Bangladesh on the sub-continent since 2003, but they must do more to negate the problem by playing forward with bat and pad, and stifle the problems that have been the main difference between the sides in the first two tests.

Of course, while there are questions of technique there are also questions of personnel, mostly aimed at Kevin Pietersen.

Pietersen’s two innings bordered on shambolic, from the scratchy two he recorded from 29 balls in the first inning to his thoughtless hoik to deep square leg in the second innings, there was little to cheer about for his supporters and plenty for his detractors who believe he is on the wane to sink their teeth into.

Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss have built their house upon stone, and have no time for knee-jerk reactions that call for the head of one of their most accomplished players after a single defeat.

However Pietersen needs big performances in the next two test matches, or face testing the captain and coach’s patience more than he would ever care to.

This is a guest post, hence it is not written by blog author jimmymycrushie.

Other posts:
Strauss queries “strange” test venue 
England embarks on home glory 
Anderson targets Botham’s record 
England keep Sri Lanka on a short lead


  1. Varun says:

    Why is always KP heavily criticized even when all of England batsmen fail? just because he is the best England batsman?