Day 2 of Test 2 – Asserting Dominance

Back in 2010, when England last met Pakistan on these fair shores, the tests were of dubious quality, and eventually of dubious intention. But although England won the series 3-1, they always had that control of the series, thanks, we tend to forget, for a magnificent hundred that saved our bacon at Trent Bridge by…..*

Anyway, he’s not in our test team any more, and by the end of that series Saeed Ajmal had him fidgeting about like a cat on a hot tin roof. But England’s frail batting in that series, and the awesome, at times, nature of the visitors bowling always kept tests on the edge.  They won a close battle at The Oval. When we saw another such test at Lord’s, those of us on here who worry that such a frail batting side as England are (with two top order places, at least, and possibly three, up for grabs) could ascend to the top of the pile, placed world test cricket’s travails towards the back for a while. This test has them back, front and centre. In Antigua, India are walking over a mediocre West Indies. Here, we are doing the same in this test to Pakistan.

England have done what good test sides do, of course. They’ve taken their opportunity to bat on a great wicket, piled up a massive score, and then knocked off half the top order in no time, with Woakes, yet again, having a terrific day. That two of the more reliable men, or at least billed as reliables, in Hafeez and Younus are struggling is a real concern for the visitors. They simply have to bowl sides out for manageable totals and hope their batsmen can keep them in clover, but I don’t see this Pakistan team topping 500 in English conditions. I may be wrong, and The Oval might be the surface to do it, but it doesn’t look to be in form enough for me. So when England racked up 589/8 in their first innings, the pressure to score nearly 400 just to force England to make a decision looks daunting. Misbah and Shafiq are going to need to play out of their skins.

England were ruthless. Root eschewed risk early, and took the morning session very steadily as Woakes took advantage of his promotion up the order to remind us how good his batting was when he’s 150 wickets into his test career and faded like Stuart Broad! Bairstow and Stokes played their part, and kept the train on the tracks, while Root expanded his game a little more and got past 200. Then, in something I love seeing from England players and always lamented we didn’t do enough of it, he got past the 200s, the 210s and the 220s and piled on. In my days of watching cricket only Gooch and Cook (twice) have made larger scores for England, and of course, almost forgetting Stokes as well – silly me.

Some little nuggets? His is the third 254 in tests, the others by Bradman at Lord’s in 1930 and Virender Sehwag in Lahore in 2006 (his coming in a Sehwag-esque 247 balls). If he’d made 252, he would have been the first person in tests ever to do so. It’s the 5th double hundred of the year, with England having the top two scores so far. It was two short of the English record at Old Trafford (Ken Barrington) and the third highest individual test innings in Manchester.

Oh, and I must not doubt @norcrosscricket stats ever again (x100)

So while England’s mastery is obvious in this match, and Pakistan’s route to survival will need the intervention of weather in some ways, this feels to someone not wedded as strongly to this England team like a disappointment. I want a scrap. I want a match which is won with fight and tenacity. This is a steamrollering and it doesn’t please me any more. Joe Root is a super player, a brilliant talent, temperament to die for, an all round game that one can only marvel at, but….. I can’t put my finger on it. As with Woakes, who is coming good (and yes, I doubted him as well, of course I did) you feel great for people like this. I really do. But it’s the bigger picture. Azhar Ali appears a fine player in the UAE, but he’s like a fish out of water in this series. Why?

That’s enough for tonight, and please keep the comments coming tomorrow. Somehow it doesn’t still feel right having a Day 2 on a Saturday, but I realise I’m an old fuddy duddy now. Day 3 tomorrow, have your say in the usual place. I’m off to read what the “highly respected Cricket Correspondent” ( (c) Charlie Sale) of the Mail has had to say. It’s sure to be enlightening.

* Eoin Morgan, of course…..

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16 thoughts on “Day 2 of Test 2 – Asserting Dominance

    • oreston July 24, 2016 / 2:33 pm

      Saying that Buttler’s keeping is held in higher regard than Bairstow’s is like saying that… oh, never mind.

      Like

    • Tuffers86 July 24, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Like

  1. d'Arthez July 24, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    How competitive. Pakistan only trail by 391 runs on the first innings. High quality, compelling cricket – the kind of stuff that does not make you watch your cell phone for status updates, rather than the highly tense play.

    Like

  2. LeningradCowboy July 24, 2016 / 2:51 pm

    Strange decision not to enforce the follow-on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Escort July 24, 2016 / 2:54 pm

      Not really that strange a decision given the defensive mind set of the captain.😉😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • LeningradCowboy July 24, 2016 / 3:01 pm

        And now its raining.

        Like

  3. BoredInAustria July 24, 2016 / 2:59 pm

    KP Pietersen 13779
    A Cook 13644

    Like

  4. d'Arthez July 24, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    Meanwhile in the follow on West Indies have reached the dizzy heights of 120/7. Only 203 runs needed to make India bat again.

    #CompetitiveCricket

    Like

    • SimonH July 24, 2016 / 6:07 pm

      I’ve been watching and it’s absolutely desperate. There’s some spin and Ashwin and Mishra are good bowlers but it isn’t a 130/8 (as it is now) pitch.

      Those who claim two divisions (or any change) in Test cricket would be bad for West Indies should have to watch this on a continuous loop and then explain how it could be any worse than this.

      Like

    • sidesplittin July 24, 2016 / 6:16 pm

      Where’s the context ?

      Aus haven’t lost a test at the Gabba since 1988. WI didn’t lose a test series for 15 years. Starting in 1956, Eng won successive home series 2-1, 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 and 3-0. They lost one test at home in five years !

      Cricket, like life, ebbs and flows. Competitive cricket, whereby all teams are of more less equal strength, isn’t quite utopian but it’s occurred very infrequently in the history of test cricket.

      Like

      • Mark July 24, 2016 / 7:22 pm

        “Cricket, like life, ebbs and flows.”

        Not necessarily true…

        “The proportion of Test matches won by all home teams around the world has been creeping up for 30 years, from less than 30% in the 1980s to almost 50% in this decade.” That , From an article in the economist magazine in 2015……… They point out that the number of draws has fallen markedly. They put this down to the batsman (because of ODI cricket) are not brought up to bat for long periods of defence. Back to back test matches. Shorter tours.

        It is very obvious in Ashes series…..from a BBC article in 2015……. “Prior to 2002, according to TMS statistician Andrew Samson, 117 Ashes Tests were won by the home team, 98 by the away team. That’s a win/loss ratio, in games that saw a result, of 1.19.

        Since 2002, 25 Ashes Tests have been won by the hosts and seven by the visitors. That’s a win/loss ratio of 3.5

        “For me it is quite simple,” says Graeme Swann, part of the only Ashes team in those 14 years to win an away series. “In England the wickets are getting slower so the batsmen are not being exposed to fast bouncy wickets. When they go to Australia it is a culture shock. They can’t deal with these guys with raw pace on fast, bouncy wickets.

        “Then, when you come to England and the ball still swings, even the visiting batsmen that play county cricket don’t face the highly skilled swing bowling they do in Tests. Batsmen don’t like the ball moving laterally through the air. It is bad enough when it is jagging about off the pitch.

        “The Aussies come here and nick everything. We go there and get bumped out. That is it in a nutshell.”

        Like

    • d'Arthez July 24, 2016 / 6:28 pm

      Thus far there have been 2 50+ partnerships for West Indies this match (one in the first innings between Holder and Dowrich, one in the second innings between Samuels and Chandrika).

      Ashwin averages about 65 with the bat against West Indies – and all his 3 tons have come against the West Indies (and also his 2 tons to go with a 5-wicket haul). Against all other opposition (including Bangladesh) his batting average is just 28.

      It is a bit like beating up Zimbabwe in the middle part of last decade. Great for the stats and the occasional record, but really not meaning anything.

      Like

    • d'Arthez July 24, 2016 / 7:14 pm

      Where is the context?

      I posted already that West Indies have won all of 2 Tests on the road since 2000. Now, even if England were terrible in the 1980s and 1990s (and that has to be assessed against the quality of the opposition, which was much higher then, than it is now). England won 7 away Tests in the 1980s, and 9 in the 1990s. Out of a total of 97 matches against the other big teams (and no, the results are not skewed by Sri Lanka). 16 out of 97 is slightly more impressive than 2 out of 71 (excluding Tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe); and that is being generous to the West Indies, since the ratio would be 1 win in 62 games since the start of 2001.

      Check some results from say a decade or two decades ago. The standard was hardly as crap as this. Whether that was in West Indies, Sri Lanka, or even Zimbabwe. If the sporting ban gets lifted, England may as well send Leicestershire – at least Zimbabwe might be able to give the occasional game to a Division 2 county side. So high are the standards there!

      Are we suddenly imagining that Shannon Gabriel is better than Malcolm Marshall, Holding or even Roberts? Are we suddenly imagining that Herath is better than Murali? Are we suddenly imagining that Murali Vijay is a better batsman than say Gavaskar or even Sehwag? Are we suddenly imagining that Thirimanne is a better batsman than Samaraweera? Or that Hafeez is better than Saeed Anwar?

      India managed to win a series in England in 2007. Now it is hailed as an achievement if they bother to get to the venue, to be ritualistically slaughtered. Wow, Test cricket is so much better now!

      The only side that is less crap today on the road than a decade ago is Bangladesh (and that includes England – they have won all of three series on the road since 2010 against Big-8 opposition – and twice they faced teams with neutered bowling attacks to get there).

      Needless to say, no one barring the West Indies, Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe is willing to host Bangladesh, so it is unknown how much less crappy Bangladesh are in say England. Because obviously, the ECB is so meritocratic as to willing to entertain Bangladesh at some undefined time in this millennium.

      Like

  5. Benny July 24, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    OK in olden times, there was lots of county cricket with all our top players battling away and, occasionally, we’d have a visit from an overseas Test team. All brought different challenges: quick WI bowlers and some sparkling batsmen, India with their master spinners, Australia as they’ve always been – tough. It was kind of icing on the cake in a season for the cricket follower.

    Now, it’s all about international matches in various formats with teams playing in a similar manner, according to similar laptop programs, and the county stuff down the road is fading into insignificance. Like Dmitri, I want to see a scrap, a challenge, something exciting. Don’t know how to improve things.

    For England’s “let’s churn out some more runs though we don’t need them” – it’s their choice but why expect people to pay to watch it?

    Like

  6. SimonH July 24, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    All over in North Sound despite a little late resistance from Carlos Brathwaite and Bishoo.

    Peter Moores only had to beat WI to keep his job. That’s worth pondering for a moment. Since WI beat England in Bridgetown WI results have been: LLLLLLDL. The D was because of a tropical storm. The margins of defeat in the Ls are eye-watering (only one, a loss by 72 runs to SL, was remotely close). Jermaine Blackwood, the scourge of England under Moores, has since made two scores over thirty in thirteen innings.

    Ebb and flow? Any attempt to say that of the WI has to be trolling. The tide has been going in one direction for twenty years and is speeding up if anything. The only question of any importance is whether WI are a unique case or if they were merely ahead of the curve and SL, Pakistan and SA are going to follow the path they’ve trodden? As the Big Three are all flowing and the other are all ebbing, it looks like financial doping to me – just as I don’t think the local coffee shop or independent bookseller closing down is the normal ebb and flow of the business cycle but it has something to do with Starbucks and Amazon.

    One example of the difference money makes is A team tours. I heard recently that WI hadn’t had any A team tour for 18 months. Pakistan A are in England currently – but how many A tours have they had outside Asia in the last decade? (That’s a genuine question – I find A team info quite difficult to find).

    Liked by 1 person

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