Sharjah Day 1 – And Bits Of Other Stuff


So we move to the Third Test of this fascinating series. Both the first two tests have gone down to the wire, both in unlikely circumstances. In the former, the spinner derided by the journo who tells us know-nothings what’s what, nearly won us a game, and in the latter the spinner derided by the journo who…., nearly saved us when all seemed lost.

But we are where we are, 1-0 down. There’s stuff about we deserve to be level, etc. but that’s just the stuff of hopes and dreams. Winning a test match, as the Pakistanis found in Dubai, is about sealing the deal, closing the match, and sometimes it is bloody hard to do so. Clearly, a win in Sharjah by this team would be up there with Mumbai 2006, Colombo 2001, Karachi 2000 in the pantheon of great, unexpected, away wins. I don’t include either of the two in India in 2012 as that was an experienced, road-tested, England team out there, great as those wins were.

England will make changes. One is forced – Mark Wood’s ankle problems are being managed (and please God, not by another cortisone shot…) and so he steps down. While the wickets column isn’t totally his friend at the moment, he is developing rapidly as a test bowler and has tremendous promise. I fear for his injuries. Fingers crossed for him.

Also, widely trailed, is the “resting” of Jos Buttler. The replacement keeper will be Jonny Bairstow which, in my view, is cripplingly unfair to both of them. Bairstow has shown a bit of stickability in the middle order and is trying to nail down a place. Having to do that while keeping wicket in a one-off test is ratcheting up the difficulty level. Also, will dropping Jos Buttler do him any good? There’s a school of thought that he’ll get his confidence back in the ODIs – that didn’t happen in England.

James Taylor may well be getting the nod for this game, but I’m also seeing others floating someone else opening (Bell – WTF?). I’m pretty sure they’ll stick with Ali for this test, but who knows? Bayliss doesn’t seem the type to chop and change without due thought and process. With the press confirming that Taylor and Bairstow are playing, we have to believe that with Plunkett for Wood, we have our XI. If this tweet is anything to go by, it’s looking good for James. All the best to him.

KP isn’t happy at the dropping of Jos. His article is very insightful though on how to come to terms with spin bowling, and for that, I think it is well worth a read. Haters will hate, though.

Pakistan are without Imran Khan. Will Azhar Ali come into the team? Will we solve the Yasir conundrum? A fascinating contest is in store.

Some statitude….

There have been 15 test centuries in Sharjah. Brendon McCullum’s 202 is the highest. Mohammed Hafeez (197) and Kane Williamson (192) made the next two highest scores in the same test match in November 2014. The next hundred by a Pakistani will be the 10th by a “home” player there. Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Younus Khan (2) all have hundreds there.

New Zealand’s 690 there in 2014 is a major stat outlier which will be tough to beat. The next best innings total is 493 by Pakistan in 2002 v West Indies.

Of 7 test matches played in Sharjah, there has been one draw.

In those 7 tests, there have been hundred partnerships for each of the first 7 wickets. Most vulnerable? 125 for the 4th by Misbah and Mohammad Hafeez? 116 for the 3rd by Taylor and Williamson for New Zealand? Record partnership is for the 2nd between Williamson and McCullum.

Mark Craig has the best ever bowling figures at Sharjah in tests; 7 for 94. Other five wicket hauls have been from Shoaib Akhtar, Shane Warne, Chanaka Welegedara and Rangana Herath.

England have made 20 hundreds in away test matches against Pakistan. Cook has the two highest scores for English players in the UAE – 263 and 94.

Elsewhere we’ve seen the conclusion of the day-night round of the Sheffield Shield. All three matches ended in results:

Tasmania v Western AustraliaScorecard here. Double century watch – Michael Klinger made 202 not out in the first innings

Victoria v QueenslandScorecard here. Including a massive performance by Travis Dean who was on the field for the entire match (unless he nipped off for a call of nature, of course)

South Australia v New South WalesScorecard here. Steve Smith and Ed Cowan with hundreds. Mitchell Starc with 8 wickets.

Of course, double hundreds for Aaron Finch (288*) and Ryan Carters in the warm-up match were buried under the stories over the pitch. Australia are getting a bit of a rep for preparing stupid surfaces for warm-up games. Going to be an interesting test series. My mate in Adelaide has been saying there has been a ton of complaints, but this seems to indicate batsmen can make scores, and bowlers can take wickets. A balance is important. There have been a few 150s, and some decent bowling performances. There will be more news to come.

Some house news. You will note we’ve changed the domain name. Using the old domain still works, but it might be best to update your bookmarks. is ours……

Sad to see The Full Toss reaching the end of the road. We were aware something was in the wash as Maxie has a new baby and freelance work to get to grips with and had said to us over a beer in the summer that he thought he would step down after the Ashes. James has a hell of a task widening his remit on the new venture, but we wish him all the best. It may be that we get even more attention than before, now that Maxie, who was increasingly becoming a punchbag for certain posters, will now not be available to have a pop at. Us sinister lot!

On the matters of yesterday, where according to the usual supsects I was part of some conspiracy with Maxie, I am gobsmacked. I had no part in it other than to say to Tregaskis that he still had “it” and saying I was watching while munching popcorn! To be honest, I knew nothing about the golf game, who played with who, or why. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ve been on the end of hospitality before, and I’m not influenced other than I like people who have done it. If they ain’t VFM in what they supply, they don’t have a chance. I think that goes anywhere. I thought the reaction was more interesting than the substance, to be fair. I spoke to some of the contributors during the day but barely touched on the golf. I’m just too busy at work, and enjoying myself with mates after work to be conducting some grand plan. Some people need to look at themselves, frankly.

OK. Test cricket. Sharjah. Game on. Comments below.


46 thoughts on “Sharjah Day 1 – And Bits Of Other Stuff

  1. hatmallet Oct 31, 2015 / 6:42 pm

    As I said on the Telegraph, I think KP goes a bit overboard on Buttler. Low scores are one thing, but he looks completely bereft of confidence and it’s now affecting his keeping. As big a fan as I am/was of KP’s batting, when it comes to selection he’s often shown too much loyalty to his friends or favourites.

    But as you say, some interesting words on facing spin and the (failed) methods tried last time in the UAE.


  2. Ross More Oct 31, 2015 / 6:57 pm

    Confused by Buttler resting bit. Only seen it reported as being dropped


    • Mark Oct 31, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      Unless he has an injury he has been dropped. Why would you rest your first choice wicketkeeper for a must win game in the series?

      There is no shame in being dropped. Years ago players were dropped too quickly, then we had central contracts and the balance moved the other way. Players were rightly given more stability and more chances. If anything I think we have gone too far the other way lately with players being kept on for sometimes too long. However, as there is little talent waiting in the wings this is understandable.

      But you won’t win many test matches with only 2 functioning batsman.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 31, 2015 / 9:50 pm


      As I had to clear the comment, I’m assuming it is your first here. Welcome if it is!

      We aren’t as awful as indicated.



      • Ross More Nov 1, 2015 / 8:48 am

        Long time reader, first time poster. Abrupt first attempt, admittedly. Read “rested” as being a suggestion thta is what had been said or written. Only seen the word dropped!


  3. Zephirine Oct 31, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    I’m just reading the new KP book. Some of it (like his dream XI) has already been in his Telegraph columns more or less. It’s quite a good read so far, but patchy, he jumps around from rant to reminiscence to technical advice and back again – that Buttler article is fairly typical.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 31, 2015 / 9:51 pm

      I’ve not bought it yet. Even with a load of Amazon vouchers, I can’t really be bothered!


      • Mark Oct 31, 2015 / 10:25 pm

        But, but, but you are all just one issue KP supporters who are mates with Pieres Morgan. What do you mean you can’t be bothered to buy his book? You always buy his books. (Snark)


  4. Mark Oct 31, 2015 / 10:55 pm

    How to become BCCI president. I got this from Jarrod Kimber.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 31, 2015 / 11:05 pm

      Sadly true of most sports bodies. I wouldn’t just pick on India.

      As England fans, we have Giles Clarke bestriding the ICC like a colossus. We can’t lecture anyone. Sadly.


      • Mark Oct 31, 2015 / 11:40 pm

        Yes and now we have the triple with Australia’s man from Rio Tinto.

        Hey Dimtri did you see Chelsea and the special one today? BT sport was unbelievable. The premiership becomes the most over rated clown car going. Yet the football media has to pretend that we are watching something sacred. Once again proving that the more you pay people, Bankers or footballers the worse many of them get.

        I see all the no dickhead people are celebrating the All blacks win. As if it proves anything that they claim to believe in. A great side with great basic skills seems to pass them by. It’s all about trust apparently.


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 31, 2015 / 11:48 pm

          I was never a fan of manager interviews because a defeat was always down to something that they could not control. Mourinho plays that game to perfection. You aren’t talking about Chelsea being crap. It’s him.

          There’s a piece on football in me one day. But I am with you on the self-styled best league in the world.


  5. Rooto Nov 1, 2015 / 5:42 am

    Pakistan to bat first.
    Cook “Everyone says it will spin here”, as Samit gets in the team instead of Plunkett. Well, everyone except Pakistan, who are playing Rahat, not Bilal, instead of Imran.


    • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 6:14 am

      You have to wonder what Bilal Asif adds to the combination of Yasir and Babar. To top it off, Azhar Ali started his cricketing career as a bowler too, Malik (he has taken more wickets this series than Broad for instance) can turn his arm as well. As much as you may want 8 bowling options, there are only two ends to bowl at. Wahab is more effective with an older ball.

      What is surprising me is that Azhar opens. He is a specialist #3, and had really performed for Pakistan in that position. Maybe they fear that Malik is just a walking wicket against the new ball, because otherwise the sensible thing would have been to open with Malik, and have Azhar at #3.

      And just as I write that Azhar is gone, knicking Anderson through to Bairstow.


  6. d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 7:03 am

    Samit Patel has no luck. Seems like he has dislocated a finger of his spinning hand – just from fielding the second delivery he has bowled. He is continuing though.


  7. d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 7:48 am

    Looks like England made the right selection decision, playing Rashid, Moeen, and Patel.

    Just getting a bit annoyed at the commentators saying that England are playing three spinners. If Patel (164 FC matches, 238 wickets at 40) counts as a full time spinner, so does Malik (122 FC matches, 248 wickets at 29) then, while Pakistan are supposedly playing the “extra seamer” – no they’re not. They’re playing 2 seamers as they have done in the previous match as well.

    Either way, there is plenty on offer for the slower bowlers, and even a small 4th innings chase (of say 150) could be rather challenging.


  8. hatmallet Nov 1, 2015 / 9:27 am

    Surprised that England went for Patel, don’t feel he will be a threat. Had he been fit, Ansari may well have been making his debut.

    Been watching since lunch. Broad has bowled very well and hasn’t gone for a run in this 5 over spell.

    Moeen and Patel haven’t been able to hit a spot so far, a few too many short ball, full tosses or leg side balls. But plenty of turn on offer so are still dangerous.

    Anderson had just taken a wicket with a full toss missed by Younis.


    • thelegglance Nov 1, 2015 / 9:46 am

      That dismissal was funny. One of those he’ll be wondering how the hell he missed it. A full toss first up is a dangerous ball, it gets above the eyeline.


  9. thelegglance Nov 1, 2015 / 9:44 am

    Bairstow isn’t watching the ball into the gloves. His eyes stay fixed on where it’s come from, not where it’s going.

    Just an observation.


    • hatmallet Nov 1, 2015 / 10:08 am

      That’s my problem when batting. Or more accurately, one of my many problems when batting.


      • thelegglance Nov 1, 2015 / 10:18 am

        It’s an easy bad habit for a keeper to get into. 99% of the time it doesn’t matter, but then you drop one as the ball moves. Farbrace will likely have already picked up on it.


    • hatmallet Nov 1, 2015 / 11:13 am

      Prior just pointed it out on Sky, albeit not as a criticism.


      • thelegglance Nov 1, 2015 / 11:26 am

        Yes, made me smile – although to be fair it’s difficult when the ball is low and you’re moving down to it, every instinct screams at you to keep your head out of the way.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 10:10 am

    Pakistan’s innings is going nowhere. Will be a struggle to get up 200 at this rate.


    • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 10:14 am

      30/3 from 22 overs since lunch. Excellent session for England thus far.


      • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 10:41 am

        Seamers (Anderson, Broad, Stokes) have contributed 14-11-7-2 in the second session. Stokes being “the expensive one”, giving away 6 runs in 5 overs

        Now, both Broad and Anderson have been bowling well, but you sense that Pakistan relied too much on a game plan that seems to involve surviving against the seamers, and cashing in on the spinners. This is certainly not a par score at the moment. Not even close.


  11. pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 1, 2015 / 11:15 am

    I’m afraid that watching the amount of spin even Patel has got, I wonder if a Pakistan score of around 250 may be too much for the England batting line-up barring heroics from Cook and Root.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 1, 2015 / 11:28 am

        Clearly not! I wonder if England put in a bit of a horror show we might see accusations of doctored pitches in the rags.


      • escort Nov 1, 2015 / 12:32 pm

        The picture of Giles Clarke and David Collier greeting Standford on arrival by helicopter at Lords is a favorite of mine. Does a copy hang in the Long Room i wonder?


  12. hatmallet Nov 1, 2015 / 11:47 am

    A load of Broad articles on the Mail Online. He has a new book out. Mostly about this year by the looks of it.

    Some new info on the SAS training camp before the last Ashes tour, a denial about bullying, a prank involving Stokes and Wood, the rest is as you’d expect.


  13. greyblazer Nov 1, 2015 / 11:52 am

    James Clouderson constantly getting shape away from the RH in these unfavourable conditions , bowls a lovely length. If he could just bowl at 90 he’d cause mayhem.
    He’s a magician now, 260 wickets since 2010 at 25. A modern day great.
    Anderson is akin to a cheetah, clever and deceptive. Although Steyn is the king of the jungle of course


    • thelegglance Nov 1, 2015 / 11:55 am

      There are better bowlers than Anderson out there, but he is one of the cleverest.


  14. SimonH Nov 1, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    Looks like Stokes has dislocated his shoulder, diving trying to catch a sweep.


    • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      Stokes may bat, but I doubt he’d be batting above Anderson – and probably one-handed. Does not look good at all.


      • SimonH Nov 1, 2015 / 12:34 pm

        Much is going to depend on the amount of muscle damage. Worst case scenario and it could be Terry Alderman rugby tackle level of seriousness.


    • hatmallet Nov 1, 2015 / 12:45 pm

      Unlikely to do anything more in this match. He was already rested for the ODIs but could be a doubt for South Africa now.

      England could well bring in Hales, move Moeen down to #6, play both Wood and Finn, and reluctantly promote Broad to #8 (a place too high for him).


  15. Grenville Nov 1, 2015 / 12:50 pm

    damn it. Come on, Pakistan. Stop batting like muppets.


    • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 1, 2015 / 1:00 pm

      I honestly think that they might not have that bad a score on a turner of a pitch. A wonderful performance from Anderson and supported well by Broad too.


  16. d'Arthez Nov 1, 2015 / 1:01 pm

    28.1-15-30-6 is the combined wicket haul of Broad and Anderson. Excellent returns.

    Still two overs to survive for Cook and Moeen though in the day.


  17. greyblazer Nov 1, 2015 / 1:11 pm

    England need some kind of lead here. 50 nice, 100 dreamland


  18. SimonH Nov 1, 2015 / 1:40 pm

    Classic case of ‘let’s see when both sides have bowled’. On the one hand, batting never looked easy with some help for all the bowlers. On the other hand, three batsmen holed out on the legside boundary and one missed a full toss.

    England need 300 in the first innings one would think.


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