Thursday, 19 January 2012

What's gone wrong for England - England v Pakistan 1st Test

England's main problem against Pakistan was their batting, and even though most players got out to injudicious attacking shots, they heaped pressure on themselves with their tentative approach. At times they were playing Ajmal like he was Muralitharan. None of the Pakistan spinners turned the ball that much, but the England top order repeatedly failed to get forward to them, and only Abdur Rehman was attacked much at all. Ajmal almost had free reign to bowl as attacking as he wanted, knowing the the English batsmen were tentative and mentally confused.

Going into their second innings, England were behind but in with a chance of getting back into the match. That chance faded quickly with three wickets for Umar Gul, leaving England 25-3. Whilst Gul bowled well most of the day, he got all four of his wickets with innocuous or poor balls. Firstly, Strauss was given out strangled down the leg-side when he didn't hit it, and after HotSpot didn't show any conclusive proof either way, notorious showman, and prize idiot, Billy Bowden's decision was upheld. That one may have been unlucky, but it was a lazy stroke.

After that, Cook got tucked up trying to hook, and instead of dropping his hands on it, went through with the shot with predictable consequences. The next was the worst of all, Pietersen showcasing his ludicrous lack of a back foot game by hooking straight in the air off the front foot to a grateful deep square leg. Later, Trott completed the set, with a flick devoid of any foot movement carrying off the edge through to Akmal behind the stumps. What all the dismissals had in common was that they were shots that didn't need to be played. All of them could have left their balls, and Pietersen in particular should have kept his shot down.

Considering how bad the batting was, the bowling wasn't that poor, and to dismiss Pakistan for 338 on a good batting track was a good effort. It's the batting that has to improve for the next test, and improve a lot.

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