Friday, February 3, 2012

English Batsmen Carry the Burden

In the first Test, a pitiful batting performance saw England reduced to an embarrassing ten wicket defeat in Dubai, handing Pakistan a comfortable 1-0 lead in the three match series.

Gul ruins England's top order
Trailing by 146 runs, England made a woeful start with Umar Gul (4-63) claiming the wickets of Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen with ease.

Spin bowlers Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman then ripped through the lower order, picking up three dismissals each, disposing of England for a mere 160.

Ajmal made history with seven lbw’s in a Test, helped by a seemingly clueless England’s top six, who mustered only 143 runs between them.

Unsurprisingly, Pakistan’s opening batsmen casually knocked off the 15 runs needed to ensure their team strolled to victory.

Jonathan Trott became the fourth-fastest English batsman to exceed 2,000 Test runs, an achievement largely overshadowed by a performance that left pundits questioning the legitimacy of England’s standing as the world’s number one Test team.
Rehman and Ajmal wreak havoc

The mood in the English camp was one of frustration and disappointment, but with a strong belief that things could only get better. 

They were wrong.

England disintegrated into a pathetic excuse for a cricket team, throwing away the second Test and losing the series in Abu Dhabi.

Monty Panesar had produced a sterling bowling display, picking up 6-62, with Pakistan making just 214.

Chasing a paltry 145, England’s batsman once again failed miserably to deal with Pakistan’s spin attack, coming unstuck in attempts to play off the back foot, with Abdur Rehman claiming 6-25.

Only Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior hit double figures as England were laid out for 72, their lowest total against Pakistan, putting to waste their superb bowling efforts and shocking many spectators.

Geoffrey Boycott exclaimed, “I’ve seen some bad performances over the years, but that’s as bad as I’ve seen. I couldn’t find any excuses and I wouldn’t want to.”
Panesar's bowling to no avail

The former England batsman was aggravated to the point of singling out individuals, saying of Eoin Morgan, “If he is a Test player, I’m going to eat that famous hat. You’d have to see it to believe how bad it was.”

Whilst bitterly upset at the outcome, Andrew Strauss insisted, “No-one in our camp is waving white flags or anything like that.”

He spoke intriguingly on the subject of players taking their places for granted, suggesting that, “ can’t under-perform forever. There is pressure on all of us to perform.”

The England skipper, who has failed to reach 50 in any of his last fourteen Test innings, added, “No-one has a God-given right to represent England.”

Pakistan have never recorded a whitewash over England, but they head into the third Test firm favourites and will be keen to make history, with captain Misbah-ul-Haq knowing, “It will be a big achievement for the team.”

England have had bowling success, fielding two spinners and two pace bowlers, one of which, James Anderson, reiterated his teams focus on returning to winning ways.

Strauss overdue a big score
He remarked, “We don’t want to be one-hit wonders, get there, have six months of lapping up everyone saying how good you are, then disappearing.”

Pessimists would suggest that on current form and given the outcome of the first two Tests, that England stand to be humiliated.

Optimists would remind you that even if England lose the third Test, South Africa must also defeat New Zealand 3-0 next month for the current leaders to be knocked off their perch.

Others may be inclined to put aside the importance of rankings and concentrate on performance. After all, even if England snatch this last Test, but fail to perform with the bat again, certain players will find themselves under a rather intense spotlight, including Strauss himself.

Written by Dom Wallace


  1. Just watching England gloriously failing to snatch this last test - and on this evidence I'm not looking forward to watching them again any time soon! No surprise that hardly any Englishmen were bought for the next IPL. The only surprise is that Kevin Pieterson still has some supporters. Time to go home to SA Kev.

  2. The recent test performance was nothing short of abysmal, although you will be pleased to have witnessed Pieterson's recent ton no doubt...


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