Enter Darkness…. Some Quick Notes From The End Of The First Test

You see, the thing with Test cricket is very rarely is a game totally dead. It only takes a combination of some inspirational cricket, a scrambled mindset, a bit of daftness or two, and it is game on. It is what makes this game so bloody great. We’ve been hooked on that finish – well I know I was.

Now if you excuse me to make some comments, given I’ve lost what talent I had, and am wierd and a coward (Hinge and Bracket again), let’s run through some intitial thoughts:

  • Let’s not be silly and pin this on Cook’s failure to up the ante. At the start of the England innings our aim was to draw this test. Given 2012, given the experience of the team in these conditions, given how the spin bowling performed in the first innings, the knock by Cook was what we needed. It ensured we would not lose in a game where the chance to win, no matter how bloody well we played, was remote. This was sit-in cricket, which won us the series in 2001. If you don’t believe me, read Michael Henderson on Mike Atherton’s century in that match.
  • I said we needed one of our more flair players to really make a big score. Sadly they made half centuries. That’s not really a knock on them, but if one had stayed there we might have been able to declare a half hour earlier. I think Cook got the declaration pretty much right and was impressed, yes impressed, with his captaincy. This doesn’t absolve his sins in my eyes, but unlike others who pop, shows that I do come to fair assessments. Meanwhile, those lot were blathering on about KP. Says much.
  • Well done Adil Rashid. I’m proud he shoved the garbage back down the throats of his critics. The bar is set ludicrously high for our leg spinners, thinking we’ll have a Warne or a Mushy and if we don’t then let us not bother. Given our ability to scorch the tail has been a sore point for a while now, Rashid’s evisceration of the lower order batting was mightily impressive. He bowled with flight, he got enough turn, and his fielders did the rest. Moeen was a really good partner too, and Anderson bowled excellently up front. This was a really good team performance.
  • I do hope no-one goes on about time-wasting. England are just as adept as the opposition at this. We know this. This is no morality game. I might be being cynical, but in the last two overs Bell and Root decidedly did not go airborne, while Jonny B is trying to cart it to all parts. Better not have been some average harvesting there (I know Root skied a couple up in the air…..)
  • Matt Prior in the studio. FML.
  • On to Dubai for the next match. There’s always something about a Pakistan test series that just has that edge and it’s really great we are playing them. It’s such a refreshing change from Australia and India. I’m going to enjoy this winter.

Please add  your thoughts. I might do some more on the match later.

PS – You might be interested in this….Hinge and Bracket.


66 thoughts on “Enter Darkness…. Some Quick Notes From The End Of The First Test

  1. Tuffers86 October 17, 2015 / 2:28 pm

    Been working all week here in Abu Dhabi with plans of going today.

    With the match situation, I decided to earn husband points instead. Drat.

    Well done England for putting on a great performance. No qualms with the way this one flowed. After the first innings, a win was unlikely, and a loss or draw a certainty.


  2. SimonH October 17, 2015 / 2:54 pm

    Go to the Guardian thread if your wish is to drown in a sea of sanctimony.

    What was that time-wasting stunt Broad pulled when England were trying to hang on against SL at Headingley? Am I mis-remembering or did he change his pads in the middle of an over?


    • Arron Wright October 17, 2015 / 7:19 pm

      I’m going to be charitable and assume that most of the posters are too young to remember the genuine outrage that was Trinidad 1990.


      • THA October 18, 2015 / 6:51 am

        When Ian Bishop took 11 minutes to bowl one over, and Desmond Haynes insisted on standing in the middle of the pitch mid-over to rearrange the field, then sent them all back to where they had been in the first place.

        I thought one of them would fake a heart attack at one point..


  3. Mark October 17, 2015 / 3:52 pm

    While I am not going to blame time wasting for England’s failire to win this match it has to be said that the ICC, by changing the rules about bad light, have given a huge advantage to the side fielding at the end of a close test match in countries where the light goes fast.

    Now most test matches never get this far. But they have ensured that what happened at Karachi will never happen again. Its all very well saying you want to be fair to both sides, but when there is no sanction on the side who is deliberately slowing it down at the crucial moment how is that fair?

    England bowled their overs in this match at a slower pace than Pakistan, so they can’t complain. But any small run chase in the last 2 hours is going to be virtually impossible now sides have been given an incentive to go slow. Is this what the ICC really wants? The old system seemed to work for many decades, why change it?

    As for today, delighted to see Pringles comments about leg spinners being a luxury coming back to bite him. All those who have seen Rashid play said he is a second innings bowler, and he gets the tail out. If he does it on a regular basis he sounds more than a luxury. But it’s early days. Can England find a place for him? Can he improve if he gets some confidence? Although England will take a draw in this match their dropped catches in the first innings may come back to haunt them later in the series if Pakistan get on top. Both sides lower middle orders look a little flakey to me.

    As for the haters. Good to see they’re still obsessed with KP. “All they care about is KP” they used to cry at us. They just can’t let it go……..


  4. Sherwick October 17, 2015 / 4:00 pm

    How many does Pringle need now?!?


    • SimonH October 17, 2015 / 5:09 pm

      Six from six!


  5. greyblazer October 17, 2015 / 4:22 pm

    Just how good was Jimmy in this test, 4 for 44 in 24 overs with two drop catches on this batting paradise and then the catches (that was a great one, even though I feared it would be overturned)

    I did write of Adil a bit early, tweeting Mason Crane is the answer. oops


    • greyblazer October 18, 2015 / 7:12 am

      Anderson averages 25.88 in Asia. If averaging 25.88 for a pacer in Asia isn’t good, I’m lost for words.
      As far as the Test is concerned, I just forgot that Pakistan with their unpredictability, can make even the flattest of decks come to life 😉
      I hope the groundsman won’t think this was a good wicket because of what happened today. It was a dead wicket.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) October 18, 2015 / 11:16 am

        I was pleased that Cook called Broad and Anderson in when they were going nowhere with the bat. I had been arguing elsewhere that a lead of around 80 might have been a good time to have a go at them on the last day and suggested it while Cook and Root were going strong as there always was a prospect that a weary Pakistan might not fancy a couple of sessions or so of defence. Anderson indeed steamed in for his couple of overs before lunch and was rewarded. He was no less disciplined in the first innings. Broad too bowled pretty well but of course let himself down with the no-ball in the first innings.


  6. SimonH October 17, 2015 / 5:22 pm

    From Selvey’s match report:

    “Rashid upped his pace a little, not a lot but enough and spun the ball hard”.

    According to Hawkeye on cricinfo, Rashid’s average first innings’ speed was 49.0 and second innings was 49.2. Does Selvey really think 0.2 of an mph makes the difference between none-for-lots and five-for-not-many – or is he just that charmless that he has to drop that little bit of “of course I was right all along” into a piece that could just celebrate an achievement no England cricketer has managed for a quarter of a century?


    • Rohan October 17, 2015 / 6:50 pm

      Sounds like utter garbage from Selvey, if I did not know better I would say he is deliberately ‘trolling’.

      Great to see Rashid get a pfeiffer and agree with Mark’s comments above. One good thing seems to be, however, that Bayliss wants Rashid in the team, which can only be good for Rashid. Cook may not fully understand spinners, but it sounds like Bayliss might, especially leggings.

      I also agree with greyblazer, Anderson was very good and I have to take back what I said about him being innocuous on day one, I was wrong.

      Enjoyed your points above Dmitri, very fair and balanced, for what it’s worth, I actually enjoyed all of the days and think it was a good test! I guess I am going against the grain there.

      Anyway on to Dubai, what a great winter this will be……………


    • metatone October 17, 2015 / 7:09 pm

      Yes, that remark infuriated me.
      0.2 mph? What the fucking fuck?
      Selvey is a troll.


    • paulewart October 18, 2015 / 6:36 am

      The latter, of course.


    • metatone October 18, 2015 / 7:52 am

      It’s notable of course as well how quick various parties are to jump into statistical praise of Cook, but Rashid’s first in 25 year achievement isn’t considered worth much of a mention.


      • paulewart October 18, 2015 / 12:47 pm

        Indeed, when did and English leggie last take 5 wickets in a test match innings? I honestly can’t remember it happening in my lifetime.


      • Arron Wright October 18, 2015 / 1:47 pm


        1959 apparently.


  7. Arron Wright October 17, 2015 / 7:41 pm

    Interesting snippet of conversation:

    Side, bread, buttered.


    • LordCanisLupus October 17, 2015 / 7:42 pm

      Selvey seems remarkably well informed on ioc / ICC matters.


      • Arron Wright October 17, 2015 / 7:50 pm

        Imagine my surprise.


        • LordCanisLupus October 17, 2015 / 7:55 pm

          I do hope DaddyPig is joking in this post…

          That was so close to making Test match Test match history. I’m utterly confident that NEVER when a side has batted first, and declared on a score of 500+, including a double century, has the opposition EVER come back to win the game.

          I hope there is sarcasm there. Someone once mentioned it in a blog…..title.


      • Arron Wright October 17, 2015 / 8:02 pm

        It’s a *very* long-standing joke on the Guardian BTL. Going by yesterday’s thread, you can still garner 80-odd recommends for saying there was never a Test match at Adelaide in 2006-07.

        My feelings about the gag are roughly the same as my feelings about the county cricket blog. I probably didn’t need to confirm that for you though.


      • Fred October 17, 2015 / 8:14 pm

        Aaw look mate, he’s allowed to make these jokes, still. It was indeed remarkable, and it was only 10 years ago. Around 2030 or so people will start to become bored with it.


        • LordCanisLupus October 17, 2015 / 8:15 pm

          Just making sure it was a joke. As I was there it is still a match that is an open wound!


      • Arron Wright October 17, 2015 / 8:24 pm


        Just wanted to thank you here for the “not enough commas” post. Genuinely laughed out loud.


      • Fred October 17, 2015 / 8:27 pm

        DaddyPig is not silly, he knows of what he speaks, I’m sure it was a deliberate reference.
        Sorry about the open wound, I sympathise.


        • LordCanisLupus October 17, 2015 / 9:55 pm

          I have to check, as my troubled sense of humour radar is in for repair.


      • Fred October 17, 2015 / 8:39 pm

        you have to laugh. No other reaction to the guardian is reasonable these days. Some weight slipped of my shoulders Friday so I’ve decided to wade in again this weekend, for fun.

        Ali Martin wrote a good article about Wahab Riaz though, and also (how did this slip past the editors?) a piece about ICC funding for associates. Imagine if Ali Martin was the guardians cricket correspondent?


      • THA October 18, 2015 / 7:05 am

        “Just making sure it was a joke. As I was there it is still a match that is an open wound!”

        I was at the Gabba, 2013. [shudder]

        If you’ve ever wondered what the crowd at the Colosseum looked like when people were being ripped apart for their entertainment – that, that’s exactly what they looked like.


      • hatmallet October 18, 2015 / 2:21 pm

        My apologies – I’ve just joined in on the Adelaide joke. Responded to a question about whether 500 in the first innings had happened in a loss. Stated the answer (6) but only listed 5 Tests.


      • Zephirine October 18, 2015 / 2:55 pm

        Nothing wrong with the non-existent Ashes Test joke – back in the day when the Gu BTL was fun, it used to be that you couldn’t use the word Adelaide, rather like actors with Macbeth. Of course that all got rather overshadowed by 2013/14.

        I see Mike Selvey has admitted he was wrong about Rashid. It’s in the middle of another love-letter to Cook, but still.


    • Fred October 18, 2015 / 1:33 am

      Just read the thread below that twitter comment. God he’s a tosser.


  8. Rooto October 18, 2015 / 5:38 am

    Missed yesterday’s play, but the Rashid comeback and the rejigged batting order seem signs of genuine life in the team.
    It seems the Bayliss/ Farbrace pairing are what the team have needed for a while. When Moore’s was there he seemed so delighted to have the job, he never put any positive stamp on the team, and – disastrously – let Cook run the show. The results were there for all to see. Bayliss seems to have taken Cook in hand rather more, with more positivity and better handling of spinners some early signs of progress.
    Cook was never a natural captain, and leaving him to it was a sign of weakness.

    The only downside is that I was biding my time before posting some Warne-esque one-liner about Cook not captaining 35 tests, but the same test 35 times, and now it’s no longer true.


  9. paulewart October 18, 2015 / 6:41 am

    Yes, I was impressed by the re-jigged batting order. Long overdue. Kudos to Bayliss and Farbrace: there are signs of life. I posted something similar in The G only to be greeted with the immediate response: ‘What about Cook?’. Indeed, what about him.


  10. metatone October 18, 2015 / 7:53 am

    So if Rashid is a specialist 2nd innings get the tail out bowler…

    Does that mean Cook is a specialist “get you a draw on really dead pitches” batsman?

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH October 18, 2015 / 8:45 am

      Tail-enders like Younis Khan (test average 53.9), Asad Shafiq (test average 42.6) and Sarfraz Ahmed (test average 47.4)….

      Liked by 1 person

  11. pktroll (@pktroll) October 18, 2015 / 11:22 am

    My concern is that this game may have been England’s best chance of getting a win if we presume that the next two matches may have slightly more favour to the spinners and that they are not quite as slow and lacking in bounce. As well as this Pakistan are likely to be stronger with Azhar Ali and Yasir Shah back in the side. They were forced to play a seamer more than they would have liked and Shan Masood blasted out by Anderson very easily in both innings.

    That said I was very pleased for Rashid


    • LordCanisLupus October 18, 2015 / 11:31 am

      Two schools of thought, PK.

      There’s never enough times you can play well. England sorted out the dangermen and got done by Shoaib’s innings of a lifetime. Running through them on that surface is confidence building.

      The other is that we’ve had a tendency to follow up good performances with absolute shockers. That we are horribly inconsistent. Let’s see what happens.

      I see Nasser is wibbling rubbish in his Mail column. What’s happening to him? 2000 was a miracle, but that team we faced was miles better than this one, and the wicket was slow and dead. I don’t know, sometimes….



      • SimonH October 18, 2015 / 11:57 am

        “That team we faced was miles better than this one”.

        That Pakistan attack in 2000 (Waqar, Razzaq, Saqlain, Kaneria, Afridi) took 990 career Test wickets between them. The attack in Abu Dhabi now musters 161.

        I’ll hazard a punt that this entire Pakistan attack will finish their Test careers with fewer combined wickets than Waqar Younis alone.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) October 18, 2015 / 2:50 pm

        My concern is that if the remaining pitches are more helpful for spinners in this series, that a returning Shah may enjoy bowling too much at the likes of Bell, Bairstow, Stokes and Buttler all of whom to me don’t look proficient against spin. This would put a heck of a lot of pressure on Cook and Root. That said it is still not beyond the realm of possibility that Pakistan themselves may collapse again.


    • SimonH October 18, 2015 / 2:09 pm


    • LordCanisLupus October 18, 2015 / 3:20 pm

      Michael Calvin’s commentary on the cricket is one trying too hard, but I had to laugh at his Woodward piece. The most obvious reason not to go back to Sir Clive, is you should never go back… but watch the logic at the end…

      Assorted mystics and prophets, once found in the RFU committee room, have emerged to demand the saviour’s immediate installation as England’s performance director.

      Their logic is flawed, their venom obvious, and their message simplistic. Woodward may have overseen a World Cup win in 2003, but he has been a lost soul since. More measured operators such as Dave Brailsford have been infinitely more successful in institutionalising innovation in their own sports.

      Woodward was a notably poor British Lions coach, and his short-lived flirtation with football at Southampton involved one of the great doomed relationships, with Harry Redknapp. A subsequent attempt to influence Olympic strategy foundered on a lack of political nous, which led to resistance from influential coaches.

      Latterly he has earned widespread respect as a pundit, without ever dissuading those who wish to read too much into his criticism. He is not without merit, but remains a divisive character. His return to power would signal an unnecessarily punishing period of internecine warfare.

      Stuart Lancaster has the strategic mindset to be reinvented as an effective performance director alongside a coach of global stature. That vision would undoubtedly be condemned by some as an establishment choice, but it would certainly be sensible, considering the overhyped alternative.

      Stay with the known failure, because the previous success might fail. It might just work!


      • Mark October 18, 2015 / 5:54 pm

        ” More measured operators such as Dave Brailsford have been infinitely more successful in institutionalising innovation in their own sports.”

        Translation into Little England group think means……… ” institonalising operators is the only thing that matters in English sport. Men in Blazers who love to toe the line, and are part of the ‘one of us.’ Brigade. Their motto is “We don’t want no frigging Mavericks in any of English sport.”

        And the men in blazer ideology is supported and protected my journalists like Michael Calvin and Selvey and Newman. People who get paid to protect men in Blazers. The English sporting establishment must never be challenged. Even though, when on the rare times they win anything……….. it’s usualy with Mavericks or non Blazers in charge.

        For people like this, the blazer will always trump talent. It’s not what you know, but who you know.


    • Fred October 18, 2015 / 4:08 pm

      “This is zen. Zen and the Art of Batting”.
      Not an expert on trendy slang but I think this is what they call jumping the shark.


    • Fred October 18, 2015 / 4:10 pm

      Seems like Mr Selvey might want to register a complaint to the ICC regarding Kookaburra balls. If only he knew what the ICC was.


    • SimonH October 18, 2015 / 9:29 pm

      I hate sounding sour or curmudgeonly and have been gearing up to write something positive about Cook – but then I read things like the current thread on the Selvey article and wonder just how some people can so take leave of their senses. The best England opener in the last forty years? He should be given SPOTY? Yes – they’re both there.

      I’ve written before that Cook’s figures put him about level with Bill Lawry or Justin Langer. Very good openers indeed – but the best from their countries in forty years? the outstanding sporting personalities in their nations? great?

      The innings Cook’s in Abu Dhabi reminded me most of was Gary Kirsten’s 275 in Durban. Cook has a slightly higher average than Kirsten but that has to be offset by the calibre of Test bowling in Kirsten’s era. I’d rate them very close together and just cannot imagine anyone writing the sort of stuff they do about Cook about Gary Kirsten.


      • Zephirine October 18, 2015 / 11:50 pm

        It was a remarkable feat of endurance, and Cook is highly unusual as a British person to be able to play for so long in that heat without ill-effects, especially as the much-vaunted fact of his minimal sweating should theoretically make it harder for him to deal with the temperatures. ‘Mind over matter’ is one explanation, I suppose. It would be interesting to have a medic’s view on how he did it.

        But that just makes him the cricket equivalent of the Duracell Bunny, and demonstrates his training, conditioning and skill. It’s not a proof of higher moral worth, spiritual grace, divine help, advanced zen practice or even widespread enough public awareness to get a nomination of SPOTY.


      • Fred October 19, 2015 / 12:05 am

        “It’s not a proof of higher moral worth, spiritual grace, divine help, advanced zen practice or even widespread enough public awareness to get a nomination of SPOTY.”
        You’re only making it worse for yourself. If you say Jehovah once more…
        And I hope you’re not a woman.


        • LordCanisLupus October 19, 2015 / 8:24 am

          If there’s right in the world Mo Farah should get it. I’d also think more men would vote for Jessica Ennis-Hill than Cook. Froome suffers from not really being British in the mind of the public. If Murray wins the Davis Cup…..

          SPOTY. ….. If you like.


      • Zephirine October 19, 2015 / 12:22 am

        Good reply to wctt, Fred, hope it doesn’t get modded. I would have written a backup comment but it wouldn’t have helped.


        • LordCanisLupus October 19, 2015 / 8:21 am

          I restate here. Any comments you think might be modded you can always copy here.


      • Arron Wright October 19, 2015 / 8:14 am

        Nope, both of Fred’s comments gone.

        Don’t know why he bothers with the Guardian at all, if supposedly intelligent people can’t comprehend what is (for me) an indisputable point about deification and bias.

        Amusingly, even an article on the ICC proposing a green/yellow ball for Tests is illustrated with a picture of Cook. And the number of articles headed “Alastair Cook praises [player x who has done well, often noticeably better than the captain albeit not in this case]” has been at absurd levels since 2014.


        • LordCanisLupus October 19, 2015 / 8:20 am

          Obviously plumbing the depths.

          Why our beloved media can’t note that although this was a bloody good knock, this sort of thing has been done by other teams quite often. 263 is a great score but in a couple of years it will be treated like his 294. His 235, in my opinion, was much better (behind in game, no second chances), and in my opinion again it isn’t even his best innings this year (Lord’s v New Zealand).

          We do get carried away. Act like we’ve been there before. Cook certainly does. Take a leaf out of his book.


      • Arron Wright October 19, 2015 / 8:26 am

        I agree with the point about his best knock. I’ll even go public and say I put it third in the “best Test innings of the summer”, ahead of every innings by a tourist, and behind only Root and Stokes.

        There’s even an immediate test for SimonH’s hypothesis – check out this comment from noxious, substitute Cook for Kirsten and see if you think the poster would still write it.



        • LordCanisLupus October 19, 2015 / 8:29 am

          There’s a fair bit of anti-cook sentiment out there that is more hard line than is on here. Maybe one day our critics will realise that.


      • LordCanisLupus October 19, 2015 / 8:27 am

        Pretty good shout. But then this is not an argument that will curry favour. It is outright adoration or nothing.

        I see more similarities with Smith. A technique only his mother could love. Strengths and weaknesses. Captain.


      • Zephirine October 19, 2015 / 9:25 am

        I’m really annoyed that Fred’s reply to westcork got deleted but westcork’s attack on him was left standing. Unfair, and I’ve reported it as such.


      • SimonH October 19, 2015 / 10:57 am

        Arron, I’d put in a word for Younis Khan’s 171* in Pallekele as best innings of the summer.

        Instrumental in the sixth highest run chase in Test history…. an innings that won both match and series… highest individual and team score in the match in the 4th innings…. considerable turn from the pitch…. healthy SR and I don’t think from memory he gave a chance or survived a close call… no previous form in the series and muttering had started about whether age had finally overtaken him….

        Maybe the SL attack wasn’t the strongest but otherwise he’s ticked every box of a great innings there.



      • Arron Wright October 19, 2015 / 12:16 pm


        I was referring to Dmitri’s poll, which (I think) is supposed to cover the English international summer only.

        Certainly don’t want to overlook cricket that takes place outside the Big Three!


      • Fred October 19, 2015 / 2:07 pm

        Nice thought Zepherine, but I doubt you’ll get much joy. They never seem to consider themselves in any way accountable to their readers.
        Arron’s right, I don’t know why I bother. I was just feeling a bit garrulous this weekend, I won’t make a habit of it.
        His commenrt was quite funny, the amount of stuff he made up about me.
        One aspect I didn’t comment on was the Selvey reference, and how he “stood up” for Cook. Interesting perspective, journalists as defenders and supporters, rather than commentators and critics.


  12. SteveT October 19, 2015 / 9:30 am

    Bloody Hell. Lovejoy almost got it right! He was blathering on during Fridays play that England could still win (he was the only one). Rare bit of insight. Perhaps we’d listen more if he wasn;t such an annoying plonker


    • Arron Wright October 19, 2015 / 12:49 pm

      You know what the worst thing about that table is?

      Because they played in the not so very Super Test of 2005/06, Lara, Sehwag, Smith and Dravid have “ICC” written before the name of the countries they each played over 100 times for.

      Might just be me whose piss is boiled by rubbish like that.


    • SimonH October 19, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      One more double century and Cook will have as many as Michael Clarke.

      Think Selvey will mention that?


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