Day 4 of Test 2 – Dominance Confirmed

Joe-Root

Following England cricket for as long as I have should mean that days like these bring unfettered joy. We never used to beat Pakistan like this. Indeed, for a long time, we never really used to beat Pakistan. They had the lightning pace, and swinging bowling that gave domestic batsmen terrors. They would find the resistance of such technically proficient players like Javed, Inzy et al a difficulty too far. Then, if that wasn’t enough, they’d throw a Qadir, a Mushtaq, a Saqlain at you. It was a tough life playing Pakistan.

What has been so noticeable, on English surfaces, is the lack of batting. The last two series have witnessed Pakistan batsmen being all over the place. If I recall, they didn’t make a century in 2010, and just Misbah has made one here, and you wouldn’t put much money on any of them doing it in the remainder of the series. If England bat as well as they did here, and bowl up to standard, it’s going to be tough to see Pakistan putting up much of a fight. Maybe, just maybe, they need to bat first. That might be the key.

It’s 1-1, but it doesn’t feel like a close series to me at this point. Over the last few days I’ve been reading Andrew Strauss’s (aka Comma) book on the 2010-11 Ashes. It must be recalled that on that tour we won three tests by an innings. We demolished them. In the book Strauss says the aim for him was to lead “the greatest England team ever”. That team, as we might recall, carried one batting passenger (Collingwood) while the rest of the team played out of their skins. The point being, that while that team is in the reckoning for the best team we’ve ever put out (2005, IMHO would have battered it) this one isn’t. It’s carrying too many passengers, has won a game thanks to the bowling being superb, and two batsmen making around 500 runs between them, and is prone to some periods where it loses ideas. Yet it has inflicted a 330 run defeat on Pakistan – a team ranked above them in the World list – and it feels as though this isn’t even a surprise. Test cricket is, at this stage, truly baffling. It just feels totally sub-standard. I don’t know if that’s true, but too many teams fold like cardboard under any pressure. I have little hope for the rest of the series being competitive. God, I hope I’m wrong.

So while the main, faintly ludicrous, debate last night focused on whether we should declare or not, I think next week might see calls for one of the two stars of the Lions display today, Duckett and Bell-Drummond, to be included in full squads soon. I wouldn’t be opposed to that. Vince has had five tests, and not done anything to make him indispensable. Ballance has had two back and won’t be ousted yet, but he’s in Compton’s Chair – the selection not endorsed by the media and with no real reason to bring him back – and that’s like the old ducking stool at the moment. But this team prides itself not on short-termism and risk taking, as that has to admit you are wrong, and give off the appearance of not knowing what you are doing. At a time when the selectors have copped some flak, risk aversion might be the order of the day.

I found this game sadly lacking. I’m past the loyal fan boy stage, and now in to wanting to watch contests. It’s like going to watch a top club like Real Madrid play one of those lower Primera Liga sides, and it turns into a 5 or 6 goal romp, with Ronaldo filling his boots. Sure, it’s a pleasure to watch the greats turn it on, but there are only three big clubs, the better competition is few and far between, and it all gets rather dull, unless you support that team. England are winning tests when they get their heads well in front, and when challenged can turn it on (Jo’burg) or flop (Lord’s v Pakistan). I can’t make my mind up about them at all. I think that a team seriously contemplating itself as being World #1 can’t have a top 5 with Hales, Ballance and Vince. That’s indicative of something about test cricket.

Joe Root is a superstar, no doubt, and his average is now over 56. I’m not writing the “greatest ever” stuff just yet (he’d been in the team less than four years) but he is something we have not had for a while. Truly reliable. We’re bound to ruin him.

We have some time between now and Birmingham. Thanks for the comments over the last few days. I’ve enjoyed the writing more than the match! I’m really sorry I can’t be enthused, but those of you who are, good luck. You won’t carry me with you, no matter how much you try. You know that. And you know why.

Just for giggles, and as a finale, here’s this. From Comma’s book….

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18 thoughts on “Day 4 of Test 2 – Dominance Confirmed

  1. nonoxcol July 25, 2016 / 9:11 pm

    “2005, IMHO would have battered it”

    Have a giggle at the first comment here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adammountford/2011/08/englands_best.html

    The 2011 England side “would have beaten Australia in 2001 and 2005.”

    My aching sides.

    This was a pretty common debate at the Guardian in 2011 as well. People like Bull and Gary Naylor infuriated me with their casual assumption that the 2011 side would walk it.

    Like

    • nonoxcol July 25, 2016 / 9:16 pm

      On a similar note, there’s this:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adammountford/2011/08/englands_best.html

      Must have pissed these people off no end when England’s overall results in the next two years were almost exactly the same as their results between autumn 2005 and early 2008, only without the excuse of major injuries and conditions.

      Note who keeps being given the nod as the composite coach, and how little consideration is given to quality of opposition.

      *fumes*

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus July 25, 2016 / 9:20 pm

        Kevin Pietersen has done the same. With some questioning his place in the side, KP replied with a hardworking double century at Lord’s.

        Que? Do these people have names?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark July 25, 2016 / 9:52 pm

    “I think that a team seriously contemplating itself as being World #1 can’t have a top 5 with Hales, Ballance and Vince.”

    Indeed. On the other hand…….if you have a 6,7,8, and 9 of Bairstow, Stokes, Ali, and Woakes you might just get away with it in today’s barren test match quality. And especially when Root and Cook can score big.

    This Test match has delivered Englands specialty. They are world champions at this particular type of kill. Win toss, pile up 600 odd, bowl opposition out for 200 odd, bat again under no pressure, and then give yourself 2 days to finish off your opponents. I call it “Competitive Dad” cricket from the character out of the Fast Show. To have any chance against this model you have to make a big score batting first. Pakistan needed to make 400. That takes another 70 overs out of the game and you force England to have to make a real decision. Enforce followon, or bat on into the last day.

    Not many teams bat for the draw these days. Once a team can’t win, they often just collapse. Maybe 4 day cricket has some merrit after all. Never thought I would say that) but it does make it easier to scrape a draw if you have lost the first day. Who knows? Frankly I agree I can’t find much enjoyment out of this type of one way cricket. But the sheeple love it. And Ed Smith gets to write another bullshit column about how Cook nearly lost his job because everybody wanted him sacked. YAWN!

    Like

  3. Zephirine July 25, 2016 / 11:35 pm

    I’ve realised what Joe Root looks like – he’s one of those pre-Beatles English pop singers. He’d have had a dodgy manager and been made to change his name to Joey Duke or Vince Willow.

    Like

  4. man in a barrel July 25, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    Too right, Root is Marty Wilde. It is lucky that no-one in the opposition is likely to score 280. It all feels pre programmed.

    Like

  5. man in a barrel July 25, 2016 / 11:44 pm

    And if Pakistan did have a mystery bowler, Cooky would insist on him being checked out and liquidated.

    Like

  6. man in a barrel July 25, 2016 / 11:47 pm

    In some ways Cook should be picked out as the reason why cricket is dying. Everything he does makes you want to forget cricket, his graceless press conferences, his brain dead on pitch decisions…. Why follow this game?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus July 26, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      Just been brought to my attention, because I’ve ignored them for ages, that this comment has caught the ire of our fans. You have the knack.

      I also note they don’t challenge it here.

      Like

  7. SimonH July 26, 2016 / 8:01 am

    And so the exciting times continue with the third high profile series on the third continent showcasing the very best the sport has to offer (TM) getting under way.

    None of SL’s top five made twenty. The team score has just crept into three figures though so lets’ rejoice at that competitiveness. SL might avoid defeat though – but only because the weather forecast in Kandy is so bad.

    For some context, let it be acknowledged that SL have only ever beaten Australia once and that was when Australia were reduced to a team of nine when there was the Waugh-Gillespie collision. That’s when SL had Ranatunga, Murali, Vaas, Mahela, Sanga etc.

    Like

    • SimonH July 26, 2016 / 8:36 am

      Australia have lost both openers in the first six overs (and Khawaja’s been dropped at slip). Looks like we are going for the Nagpur-Mohali school of pitch preparation then.

      I won’t deny it is kind of fun to see Australian batsmen floundering against spin. It is like watching a ten year old brought up on computer games being suddenly presented with ‘War and Peace’ (in its original language).

      And joy reigns complete because Dave Richardson is in the commentary box! Even with football at its worst, you can turn out and at least not find that Blatter or Platini are the commentators.

      Like

      • Mark July 26, 2016 / 9:22 am

        ECB board room…..” Hooray we can have more Ashes!!!! and more 20/20.”

        Like

      • SimonH July 26, 2016 / 9:43 am

        There was a delightful circle jerk between Russel Arnold (normally a commentator I like) and Dave Richardson just before tea about the magnificence of the stadium. “Some of the best views in world cricket….”.

        Not a mention that it’s almost deserted or the huge debt (and you can guess where some of that went) that it caused. Still, those views….

        Like

      • SimonH July 26, 2016 / 9:44 am

        And it’s raining….

        Like

  8. SimonH July 26, 2016 / 1:34 pm

    Someone should invent a “nyah, nyah, nyah – told you so” typeface because Selvey’s latest on Root at No.3 could then be written in it.

    Generally, I’m not too exercised about batting orders and think there’s too much preciousness about them – but Selvey just has to say “I told you so”.

    History very probably won’t repeat itself – but there might be just some mention of the 180 in his second game as opener as a word of caution but of course there isn’t.

    #triumph

    Liked by 1 person

  9. metatone July 26, 2016 / 1:58 pm

    Before the game I looked at the weather and this was one of two scenarios I predicted (dependent on the toss) which rather took all the excitement out of it.

    I live in hope that Edgbaston might provide for a closer game, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I suppose I should be more thrilled by the big scores, esp. as someone who has always backed Root, even when England doubted him. Somehow though, it all seems to add up to us playing to our strengths, setting us up to fail when it gets harder on surfaces elsewhere.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus July 26, 2016 / 10:05 pm

      A piece dated today but has a glaring error about a game that has already been played (Middlesex v Surrey was last week).

      You’d almost think Nick has been sitting on this for a little bit!

      Like

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