There remains one challenge left in this game. The second test is now a matter of can England take ten Pakistan wickets in the time they allow themselves to level the series. They have a lead of nearly 500, more than enough if they wanted to declare overnight, as it would take one of the greatest miracles of test cricket to see our visitors overhaul that, and it now really rests on whether Cook wants to bunt a few more pretty meaningless runs around, or get this over with as soon as possible so the assembled media can hit the links a day early if they possibly can.
Like watching a Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry snooker final when on their game, there is plenty to admire about how England have gone about this match, but then I just never took to those two players because there was, well, just a lack of charm in the whole thing. And yes, I know it derives from THAT series, and I know three years ago, when we were charmlessly winning the Ashes I wouldn’t have said that, but emotions and instincts change over the years. I’m reading Andrew Strauss’s book on winning the Ashes in 2010/11, and there’s a bit about how lovely Alastair Cook is, and how he is the nicest man around, and he’s such a hard worker and doesn’t go on about it. And I stop, and I think, am I wrong to really not care for him? Is it me making the mistake here, and not those who seem so in hock to his aura? I do think hard over these things. I really do. But I can’t just get past the Ashes thing. I really can’t. This has meant to a dripfeed of animosity, that makes me feel numb when I see England handing out such a thrashing.
Because we can’t have it both ways. We can’t laud the Pakistanis for a magnificent display, while they sit above us in the world rankings, and then as soon as they are getting duffed up we bemoan Big Three cricket. Pakistan’s position in the world test arena is a miracle. We all know they’ll never play a home test against England and Australia ever again. Ever is a long time, but I doubt we’ll go to Pakistan in my lifetime. They are an exiled team, playing cricket in empty stadia, and yet they are where they are. It’s not because of any Big Three that they are suffering. It’s circumstance, and certainly their poor relations with India are driven by national politics, not cricketing issues. So on this one, I think we have to say “well done” to England on being in the position they are in. (There are a myriad of other views with the West Indies, who have been demolished by India in Antigua. Are they mediocre yet? If not, when will they reach that lofty standard?)
What did we learn on Day 3? Not a lot. England cashed in, then decided not to enforce the follow on. I have no problem with that, others do. Farbrace at the end, after he finished his audition for the new Mr Men movie – playing either Mr Happy or Mr Chatterbox – was keen to say it would be better to bat the second time with a good pitch than have to on a bad one. Quite what target a team 400 behind almost on first innings would set England is something I’m not sure about, but I’m sure the first test in the UAE, and the legend of Kolkata are in their minds. That’s not a very positive mindset, but then it does ensure we won’t have even the merest hint of losing the test. Cook has been rattling along, Root has come in and got going, while Hales struggled again. The batting looking very dependent on the two big cheeses at the top of the order these days.
As for the wickets, I have to confess I could only watch one day of the test this weekend, due to family stuff, and that was yesterday. After a shopping trip this afternoon, the TV went on, and my lights went out (sick border collie overnight, woken by motorcycle idiots this morning) and the enthusiasm to watch never returned. There was rain, and I saw bits of the action, but it’s not a contest any more, and this is just accumulation for accumulation’s sake now. The sort of thing Australia did, when Slater or Warner would pick up that bargain bucket second innings ton against defensive fields and worse bowling. Will England regret not bowling in overcast conditions? I don’t know. They wouldn’t tell us if they did.
Day 4 tomorrow, and England will probably bat for another hour or so. If they’ve got to lunch without declaring then I’ll probably hear Sir Ian explode from my London office. So don’t declare until lunch, Alastair. England have played well, but I’m sorry, it’s just not exciting to me. Can’t help the feelings, I’m afraid.
Day 4 comments below. It’s getting a little testy….
I have no problem with not enforcing the follow on. It seems to be the modern way. And we should remember that years ago there was something called The Rest Day. Yes teenagers, test matches lasted for 6 days when I started watching. In those days the bowlers got a day off after 3 days, so follow ons were no big issue.
I was never convinced about Pakistans batting line up. Even after Lords! Like England, they rely heavily on a couple of players batting long periods. Once ENGLAND had piled up a big score you knew what was coming. The damage was done yesterday when they lost 4 for 50 odd having been in the field for nearly two days. They needed to score about 350 minimum, and then let Cook worry about trying to come up with a safe target.
On another note, I see golf is now following the cricket model of chasing the money by going to SKY, and are now thinking of bringing in a shorter form of the game. Golfs answer to 20/20? No doubt some spotty 19 year old has told the experts at the R&A this is what the hippity hoppidy kids want these days. Short golf, while they watch on the Internet, and talk with their friends on Facebook. Be careful what you wish for. What I like about a 5 day test match cricket or a four day golf major? the anticipation, the slow build up to the final day, a bit like the slow food movement. Problem is, its completely at odds with modern society. Everything has to be done in as quicker time as possible. 20/20, and a Big Mac & fries all consumed in 5 minutes. Bums on seats Mark, bums on seats!
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Doctors are now as unnecessary as other ‘experts’, they said. Jimmy and Stokes were fine really, they said. The players know their own fitness, they said.
The only reason I can imagine for not grinding Pakistan into the dust and getting that 2010 collapse vibe going again is surely that Jimmy perhaps isn’t fine. Not perhaps feeling bad, but not to be risked in a follow-on situation. And therefore of course, not really match fit. So the media pressure on the selectors was all bullshit.
Any other ideas, conspiracy theories or not?!
I guess they think Why take the chance if the weather forecast is good as I believe it is?
Anderson didn’t take a wicket in the first innings. In fact the changes have had little effect. Stokes got a couple. But Woakes and Ali got most of them. The difference is the batting line up put up 500 plus. Different game when that happens.
Anderson did take a wicket in the first innings, Mark!
He got Shan Masood for the fifth time in seven innings (the other two innings were of course the Lord’s match that Jimmy missed).
Cheers for that Clive! Just shows how closely I was following it? Not very closely.
Still think my point holds. England make nearly 600 thanks to the same batting top order. Different game.
We could probably have had a couple of Pak wickets at this stage, and all of today to bowl em out and be done?.
Two bowlers just returned from injury?
Broady hates follow ons?
Back to back tests?
It’s all bollocks I tell ee!!
On the follow on I’ve seen people say “the Aussies and South Africans would never have done that. ”
Look up Cape Town 2005 and Brisbane 2006.
Ok for Vaughan to gob off but he’s forgetting how close his decision to enforce in 2005 at Trent Bridge came to disaster.
Re Vaughan, this is why I always argue that the Katich “lbw” at TB (and not Kasprowicz at Edgbaston) was the most significant umpiring decision of the series, and one of the best arguments for DRS ever made.
I beg to differ on the magnificent display at Lord’s. It was a good display, on what everyone thought would be the wicket that would offer Pakistan the best chance to compete.
Just as I would with say India’s win at Lord’s. There were a few cases of brilliance in the latter – and a few instances of harebrained captaincy from Cook, to even let India get nearly 300 from what was it? 145/7 in the first innings? And then the brilliant batting on Day 5, when England had more than a good shot to chase the remaining 100 or so runs. And of course, India were not being helped by the extremely mobile Matt Prior, who selected himself, was it? Sure there were some brilliant efforts by Rahane in particular in the batting department. But England lost the Test, rather than that India won it.
Sure there were some brilliant efforts from Shafiq, Misbah, and to a lesser extent from Sarfraz Ahmed in the batting department at Lord’s. But there were only 2 scores over 50 from Pakistan in the entire match. Bizarrely, England managed just one score over 50 in the entire match. As I pointed out, some of England’s batsman would be embarrassed to see the replays on how they got out. Moeen in the fourth innings being the obvious example. But some of the shots selected on Day 2 were not for the ages either. But you can say these things happen. It is not exactly the first time England lost at Lord’s in recent years, after losing the toss. Pakistan were good enough to take advantage. But not everytime that England lose, the opposition has to play magnificently well. See Headingley 2014 against Sri Lanka for an obvious example.
I alluded to it, in another thread, but when was the last time Pakistan played Tests in Australia / England / South Africa / New Zealand? That was in February 2013. South Africa won that series 3-0, Asad Shafiq’s average of 33 was the best for Pakistan, followed by Younis’s 31, and Misbah 23. Mohammed Hafeez barely scraped to 7. Yet, Hafeez is opening the batting in England, despite a diabolical record outside of Asia. The Pakistani bowling was not bad, and Saeed Ajmal managed to get a 10-for in that series as well.
Don’t read too much into rankings. It is hopelessly biased by where you play. After this series, out of all 8 Test teams England can play, only West Indies and South Africa were last faced on the road. That helps, since England won 5 series on the road since 2008 (New Zealand 2008, Bangladesh 2010, Ashes 2010/11, India 2012, South Africa 2015/16)? In the same time frame they lost 3 series at home (to South Africa in 2008 and 2012; to Sri Lanka in 2014).
Likewise Pakistan get a boost because they mostly get to play in conditions they are familiar with. The last time they played a series outside of Asia was against mighty Zimbabwe in 2013. They drew that series 1-1. A team that is not even ranked in the rankings anymore, because it has not played enough Tests over the past few years.
So what do rankings measure other than who has played the highest percentage of Tests at home or conditions similar to what you’re used to, recently and is not complete crap?
The Big 3 stitch up does matter, because it creates a clear hierarchy of preferred opponents, even more so than in the past – and that will be the case as long as boards sell rights individually. If you want an example of the drastic results, have a look at La Liga (where the only interesting question would be who would finish third and fourth). It explains why India got rewarded with a fifth Test in 2014 after their excellent display in 2011. It explains why a good South Africa side could only get 3 Tests in 2012. Don’t give me the Olympics excuse – it is not like the ECB won’t schedule Tests whenever Olympics are on elsewhere). It explains why the Ashes are now played 4 times every 7 years rather than 4 times every 8 years.
What is true for England, is also true for other nations. West Indies rather see India come so that they can ritualistically humiliate themselves again and again, rather than say Pakistan, even if that would offer more competitive cricket. Why? $$$. In the case of West Indies, much needed $$$.
So, in order of preference touring teams are, with in brackets the last years of the most recent Test tours to England):
1. India (2011, 2014)
3. Australia (2013, 2015)
4. New Zealand (2013, 2015)
5. South Africa (2008, 2012)
6. Pakistan (2010, 2016)
7. Sri Lanka (2014, 2016)
8. West Indies (2009, 2012)
9. Bangladesh (2005, 2010)
10. Zimbabwe (2000, 2003)
Pakistan could climb a few places if the host team is India (due to nationalism, and thus increased interest from the general public), likewise the same happens with other teams from South Asia, due to historical reasons (Bangladesh – Pakistan being an obvious example). South Africa are dropping on that list, simply because the Rand is losing value rapidly.
And of course the Big 3 stitch up also means that the big teams have way more money to spend on A tours. I honestly would not be surprised if the ECB spends more on the Lions than Sri Lanka, Pakistan or West Indies can spend on their actual Test team.
I expect Cook to bat until he hets his century and then declare. If Root is near his then he may allow him to stay and get his then declare. It is a totally pointless display. What I would love to see now is the heavens open, thunder, lughtening, hail and the end of the Test. Just for the fun if it. My lack of enthusiasm cor the England team continues try as I might to get behind them. I am bot sure I ever will while Cook is there.
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Sorry for all typos. On ipad
We knew what you meant and I totally agree with you. Thunder, lightning, hail and I don’t suppose we could ask for a little snow since it’s summer. Come on rain!!!!
Root just reached 300 runs for the match. Who was the last English player to do that in a Test?
(Genuinely interested, I don’t know… it wasn’t Cook at Abu Dhabi or Stokes at Cape Town btw)
Cook at Brisbane?
Just checked. 302 runs in that game. 67 and 235 not out.
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I wonder who the last one to make more than Root’s 325 was then. Or indeed the last English batsman to average more than Root’s 325 in a match – the latter won’t even be Gooch in 1990!
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Root’s 325 in a match is the most since, well, last November when Ross Taylor made 326 in Perth.
Only Sanga (with over 400 against Bangladesh), Chris Gayle and Michael Clarke (the latter two both in one innings) have also made more runs in a match this decade.
Azhar Ali on after less than half an hour. Garbage.
“These are exciting times for Test cricket as the top four ranked countries are involved in high profile series across three different continents showcasing the very best this format of the sport has to offer”.
Dave Richardson strikes again! As it was said at a private function to hand over the mace for No1 team (because SLC were worried their players would be demoralised if the ceremony was held in public!), it can’t be confirmed whether he managed to keep a straight face while saying this.
one for Davey-boy Richardson and d’Arthez here:
WTF were the Guardian thinking of getting rid of David Hopps and keeping Mike Selvey Exhibit #47673:
Very interesting, but this is some historical howler – not sure I’ve ever seen someone five years out on an event within living memory:
“Geoffrey Howe turned to cricket metaphor when his speech in the House of Commons brought down Margaret Thatcher in a Tory schism in 1985.”
And lo and behold, Stokes pulls up lame. English cricket journalism covers itself in glory yet again.
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Same leg as his knee problem?
It is his other leg. I’m no doctor but I’d guess the injuries weren’t linked?
I’m no highly-conditioned athlete or medical expert, but when I was a regular distance runner I picked up injuries that were a direct result of compensating for existing ones, e.g. left knee after right iliotibial band tension; right thigh overuse symptoms after shin splints in left leg, that sort of thing.
I’d have to agree with you, Nonox . . . taking care of a one-sided injury can often lead, unconsciously or otherwise, to over-stressing of the other side. There might be no link between the two in injuries at all, but there’s no reason they couldn’t be linked.
But anyway, Mike told us that Ben was fine two weeks ago, so no doubt there’s nothing to see down that road at all. Please move along. 🙂
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Just wondering how much Sky paid for their new win predictor software.
For those without Sky, they have indeed got a thing this summer called WISP, which displays on screen the percentage chances of either team winning the match. I kid you not.
It’s WinViz or something like that. An obsession with analytics. I’m not convinced as the way I am with baseball, for example.
That’s the thing. I rather felt I could guess the result early on in this match without help.
I’d give Pakistan about a 2% chance at Edgbaston and their best hope there is probably rain.
An Oval bunsen and winning the toss are the only remote chances of the rest of the summer not being a procession.
Well, I’ve accused FICJAM of using anyone but England recently as examples but that can’t be said here:
And what a surprise that it becomes a love-in with Chef. “Widespread calls from the top table of English cricket for his resignation as Test captain” is a cracker and there’s the first sighting of “Pietersen” and “vitriol” in the same sentence for a while.
Stress is a modern invention, don’t you know? And it’s a good thing. It makes people work better. Now, who might like that argument – and what might it imply for everybody’s workplace? Funny, how as always, his bold and blue sky thinking ends up with conclusions that serve the deepest conservatism.
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This is why I despise Ed Smith’s writing…
“The modern concept of “stress” is less than a hundred years old. For centuries, it belonged to the language of physics: the force applied to materials. Only in the 1930s did Hans Selye, a Hungarian endocrinologist, transport the idea into the realm of live creatures. He exposed cows and rodents to extreme physical deprivation and suffering in order to study the effects on their immune systems and musculature. Subsequently, the word started to be used in the context of psychological as well as physical suffering.”
Translated.. I read a fucking book you lot haven’t. Because I’m clever and you are not. Hungarian endocrinologist. Jesus wept. We know what bloody stress is without your bloody superfluous history lesson.
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Not read the piece and I’m not intending to, but I’m guessing BIGed is going on about eustress rather than out and out stress. It’s a big difference. Eustress is where one seeks to challenge themselves such as rock climbers — i.e they are looking to put themselves through the grinder for fulfillment.
It’s not big or clever thinking this, it’s A-level P.E ffs, but I guess it’s indicative of his £9000+ course.
Have some of this….in an article on cricket. This doesn’t labour a point. It sends it to the Siberian salt mines and makes it work until it drops. All to say “jeez, aren’t I clever”. You are, Ed. We know. You’ve told us often enough.
The modern concept of “stress” is less than a hundred years old. For centuries, it belonged to the language of physics: the force applied to materials. Only in the 1930s did Hans Selye, a Hungarian endocrinologist, transport the idea into the realm of live creatures. He exposed cows and rodents to extreme physical deprivation and suffering in order to study the effects on their immune systems and musculature. Subsequently, the word started to be used in the context of psychological as well as physical suffering.
Stress is now defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” Psychologists have tended to view the ability to handle stress as a finite capacity. Beyond a certain point, human beings, like inanimate physical objects, would crack and break.
But the academic consensus is now shifting. We’re learning that the way we perceive stress changes how it affects us. A study by Alia Crum at Stanford University showed that, once the association became established that stress enhanced performance, professionals found “stressful” circumstances led to heightened engagement and diminished ill-heath.
Kelly McGonigal, the author of The Upside of Stress, invites people to make two lists: things that cause them stress, and things they care about. “People realise that if they eliminated all stress their lives would not have much meaning,” she concludes.
In biology, hormesis describes the process by which an organism responds positively to toxins or stresses. Mithridatism is the deliberate exposure to toxins, with the intention of developing immunity against them. It is only a short jump, of course, to Nietzsche’s famous adage (brilliantly quotable but only half true): “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has developed the connected concept of anti-fragility. This makes a distinction between robustness – which implies endurance and a high breaking point – and the ability actually to benefit from stress. Taleb uses the analogy of building muscle by lifting weights. During the trauma of intense training, the muscles are broken down. During the rebuilding process, they grow back stronger. In Antifragile, Taleb explores how individuals (and institutions) can apply the metaphor in life, not just in the gym.
Indeed, this is how great players become adept at handling “stressful” situations. They seek them out; having experienced exposure to stressors, they gain a measure of immunity against them; and, having overcome them previously, they develop an attachment to the experience. Ultimately, they find, amid what appears to be potential torment, not just meaning but also pleasure.
Do not waste your sympathy (a finite resource) on great athletes confronting the threat of disappointment in the heat of battle. They’re probably loving it.
Oh, so my paragraph explaining what eustress is and why it’s beneficial to sportsmen and women required an entire “essay” from Ed to hammer the point.
He might be well read and well clever, but he is a lousy writer and communicator. Who the heck is he writing for? Ironically, this type of indulgence is blogger fodder!
“Widespread calls from the top table of English cricket for his resignation as Test captain”
I don’t mind Smith having his own opinions , but he can’t have his own facts. That statement is a lie. And therefore Smith himself must be classed as a liar.
Did Downton call for his resignation? Did Moores? Did Graves? Did Strauss? Did the current coach? They are the top table of English cricket, and as far as I’m aware non of them called for his resignation. It does not matter how many times Smith repeats the same lie, it is still a lie. Smith can repeat this lie until he is blue in the face, it is, and will always be a lie.
Now there were some people on here who called for his head, but we are not the top table of English cricket. (Flattered you should think so Mr Smith) Neither are some of the ex players who may have said his time was up. Again, they are not the top table of English cricket. Smith is not a moron. He has first class honors degree. So therefore one can only assume he is either confused or he is a fraud?
But if he had been sacked as ENGLAND captain, nothing would have been different. Englands success has nothing to do with Cooks captaincy, and everything to do with a very strong bowling attack on home soil. If he had been replaced, maybe we would have beaten the WI, Sri Lanka, and NZ. Our recorded would probably have been better.
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It’s the sort of day we live for at the Guardian BTL:
“Thin skinned bloke? He’s got 10,000 test runs despite the world’s media telling him he can’t actually bat. He’s probably got the toughest skin in international sport.”
Where? Which world media says he can’t bat?
These people live on fantasy island. They have constructed their very own fake back story for their hero. It’s Buzz Lightyear.
The media have had their noses up Cooks backside for 3 years. There is no criticism from the MSM.