Sunday, 29 January 2012

An embarrassment...

I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed to say I'm an English cricket fan.

Don't get me wrong, Pakistan are a good side and fully deserved their win, but it's all about expectations.  I grew up with an English side full of good players but not a team, they would often suffer batting collapses and you would rarely fancy their chances of winning any test let alone a series.  This meant that any victory was greatly received, whilst any defeat was to be expected.

Now however they are the number 1 ranked test team in the world.  They got there by a combination of team work, effort and application of their skills.  Their batting had been phenomenal, last year they had some amazing averages:

With three of your batsmen, your wicket-keeper and a bowler all playing that well with the bat, you aren't often in a position where you can lose test matches (especially as another bowler - Stuart Broad was also averaging nearly 40).  Therefore when Australia, South Africa, India and others all had poor batting displays over the last 6 months or so I have been very critical and had indicated that this is why England were number 1, their batsmen had patience and determination to dig in when things were difficult...

This is why I am now embarrassed, I don't think I was overly cocky about our chances here but I did think we'd win.  Pakistan have a good bowling attack but I thought our batsmen would be a match - I couldn't have been more wrong.  Ian Bell (who I am a huge fan of), Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan have only scored NINETY FOUR runs BETWEEN them in TWELVE innings, this is an average of just 7.83 runs!  This is hopeless.  

No one has a batting average to shout about, Trott's 35 is acceptable as long as others chip in, Prior's and Broads of 32 and 28 respectively are good contributions for numbers 7 and 8 so they can't be criticised too much but the overall effort has just been so abject.  What's worse though is that the conditions weren't particularly difficult in any one of their batting displays.  Yes the ball was turning and it was a bit slow, but it wasn't keeping low or jumping up, all the turn was fairly predictable and all you need to do is watch the ball onto the bat.  

I wasn't a very good batsman even at my level when I used to play, my role when I went in tended to be to do my best not to get out so the guy down the other end could contribute a few more runs.  In that time I was never once (even in the nets) out to a spinner - yes the Pakistan spinners are a lot better than anything I faced and my only goal was to not get out, but players of England's quality shouldn't be scared about that, they only need to WATCH the ball onto the bat and CONCENTRATE.  

I really thought we were better than this.

I completely agree with Boycott:

  • The best team won - congratulations Pakistan, I agree with Michael Vaughan that they are the best sub continent side at the moment.
  • There is no excuse from England's point of view.
  • Our bowlers were fantastic (Broad should be up for man of the series, his performance as a seamer in these conditions have been outstanding, and he saved us in the first innings).
  • If you can't make runs it doesn't matter how you bowl you'll lose.
  • If we make runs our bowling is good enough to bowl them out.
Unfortunately I don't see our batting making runs and there's no-one to come in (Morgan shouldn't be there at the moment at all - this is where we miss Bresnan, he may not have bowled a huge amount but I'd be much more confident with him at the crease batting than Morgan).

Only result I can see is Pakistan finishing this series 3-0 and fully deserving it.

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