Day 5

After an almost two month hiatus it’s back to normal. We see the puritanical, pompous muppets firing at the blog and its commenters for the same old reasons. We ain’t cheering hard enough.

Some on here aren’t England fans, if they hadn’t noticed, and a lot of those who comment who are from these shores still feel betrayed. All the paeans to our glorious leader aren’t going to change that. If anything, they exacerbate matters. It’s really not that hard to understand if you try.

Instead we got a load of old twaddle and a promise that the chief muppet won’t comment on here. We can but hope. I offered him a genuine opportunity to write something on his blog about the achievement of Alastair Cook in becoming the highest non-Asian test run scorer in Asia, but he declined and gave me some links to his KP pieces? I’m as confused as I was before.

So, we come to Day 5. I saw something that said the draw was 20/1 on, and I think that’s generous. For England to have won, that lead needed to be 80 or 90 and perhaps have a little dart tonight. I don’t blame them for being cautious, and for grinding Pakistan into the dust of Abu Dhabi, not at all. This is a step up from the capitulations on good batting tracks at the Oval and Lord’s and a necessary one. Root, Bell, Stokes and to some extent Buttler got some batting time under their belts, but we needed a dasher to make a dasher’s hundred on a non-dasher’s pitch and I’m not going to stick forks in them for not doing so.

As for Cook, I’m afraid people who don’t want to understand aren’t going to be persuaded. Back in 2011, when Cook was piling on 294 in much the same way as he did in Abu Dhabi, even some of his staunchest allies complained that it was all a bit too self-serving. I thought that harsh in a game where time was absolutely no issue. I was egging him on to get 300. I’m a fan of triple hundreds. I love the quiz on Sporcle about test 300s, often forgetting Younus Khan, for instance! England haven’t had one since 1990. They haven’t had one away since the 1930s.

Times have changed. If this were Root, if this were Ali, if this were Bell, if this were Bairstow, if this were Stokes, I’d have loved to see 300. But it’s Cook. And I’m afraid I just don’t like him. So while I sit here and say it was an excellent innings, it has pulled England by their bootstraps to a position of total safety, and it is an innings no-one else in the England team of the past 20 years could have played, do I rejoice? No. We all know why, and I’m not going into it. To pretend that I’m joyless, or sour, is to miss the point. Was Cook’s innings a joyful one? No. No-one is going to re-watch it for its aesthetic beauty or languid strokes. You are going to sit back and go “that was some effort. What concentration. What ability” but there’s no joy there. He’s done a magnificent job. I just don’t like him. That’s it. In the same way our critics didn’t like someone else, but we’re not allowed to mention that, because we’re obsessed.

On to the pitch and the utter nonsense being spouted about “pitches like these will kill test cricket”. If every dull game at a World Cup football Finals would lead to these calls, then the internet would blow up. For every good Champions League tie, there are a load of god awful ones. I’ve been to nearly 1000 football matches. I’d say 20% have been shockers. You aren’t guaranteed great entertainment on any surface. Spare me, please.

This pitch is as skewed against bowlers as Trent Bridge was against batsmen this summer. But that doesn’t matter, because England win on the latter, and have a tendency not to on the former. In 2012, South Africa made 600+ for the loss of 2 wickets and Anderson, Broad, Swann et al looked no more likely to get a wicket than they did in Abu Dhabi. But as we got humped on that surface, nothing seemed to get mentioned. If chances were taken in this match, the game would be a fair way more advanced. They weren’t. I’m not saying this is a great wicket – it clearly isn’t – but spare me the “death of test” twaddle. England getting a draw here will be a very, very decent achievement.

If you watched the 2000/01 series in Pakistan we endured 14 days of toil, attritional cricket, lit up at the end by the drama of Karachi. In 2005/6 we saw Pakistan pile on runs and England fail to cope. In 2011/12, we saw a team all at sea against spin. England have piled on well over 500. It’s a very good base to prepare for the next game.

I know the last two months have been slow on here. That’s been because I’ve found more interesting things to do, work has been busy, I got a great trip to Johannesburg, had tons of home media issues to sort (seems to be almost there) and, well, I was knackered. I’m not sure I feel that energised now, but I’m sure as hell not going to be fed a pile of old cack by people who, as usual, wilfully misrepresent what we do here. I’m thrilled so many have returned for these test matches. We’re back to well over four figures a day again, and it’s terrific. TLG will be returning soon, the cricket will keep us going, and the media will make us howl.

Plus ca change, you vile lot. Plumbing the depths. They do make me chuckle.

Comments on Day 5 here. We’ll do a round-up at the end of proceedings. As always, you may not agree with me, but you can disagree here. I won’t take it from those who do it from the sidelines, and I will remain like that. It’s much easier when you are a contented person, and at the moment, life isn’t too bad at all.

UPDATE – Twitter is funny this morning. I mean rib-achingly funny.