The trouble with day one of a Test is that unless one side has had a truly grim day every summary at the end of it revolves around it being too early to say whether the score is a good one, the toss decision is a good one or if the pitch is favouring one side in particular. There are only so many ways to say that it’s in the balance and that after tomorrow we will know more.
Pakistan’s decision to bowl first certainly caused some raised eyebrows, but having bowled England out in a day will have viewed that call as being vindicated. England’s score of 297 is right in the zone of being enough to be in the game but anything but a good score. It could become a good score, if England were to bowl Pakistan out cheaply tomorrow, or it could be a bad score if they go past it – self evident of course, but still how it is. The trouble is, saying as much isn’t about sitting on the fence, there’s nothing but uncertainty around how it will develop from here.
So perhaps the only indication is the relative happiness of the two sides – England trying to convince that it’s not a bad score at all, Pakistan reasonably content with their day’s work. If that is an indicator then Pakistan could be said to have had the better of the day, and instinctively that feels about right, but not so much so that England are at this stage in any kind of trouble. Likewise the strong criticism towards Misbah for electing to bowl had dissipated somewhat by the close, again suggesting that decision had – thus far at least – been vindicated.
Certainly England will be a little disappointed with the total, as much due to how many players got in and then got out again as anything else. Cook started with rare fluency, and while Root’s dismissal was ascribed to overconfidence perhaps the same can be said of the captain. He appeared in outstanding form, and that is so often when the mistakes come. No matter, these things do happen, and all cricketers know the frustration of being back in the pavilion having made an error on a day when they felt they could do as they wished in the middle.
Vince again got in and got out, and again it was his flaw outside off stump that did for him. His 39 was the opportunity to go on and make a meaningful contribution, and he didn’t. He looks good, then he gets out, and while looking good tends to buy a little more patience (unfairly so, of course, but true nonetheless) than for less attractive players, at some point the chances run out. Vince needs a good innings urgently, and he’ll be as aware of that as anyone.
Ballance is the antithesis of the stylish player, yet his 70 was the mainstay of the innings. He scores runs, and while the 142 he’s scored in four knocks he’s since his recall won’t make too many headlines, he looks a far better player than the one dropped last year. What is interesting there is that the technical adjustment appears minimal, and by some accounts he’s proven entirely resistant to attempts by others to tinker with it. Confidence and faith in one’s own game is often far more important. His dismissal was one of those often felt somewhat unlucky, taken down the legside off Yasir Shah by the rather impressive Sarfraz. It was a good catch too, legside catches standing up are always prized by wicketkeepers – more so than stumpings much of the time. The angle did allow that rarity when up to the stumps, time to adjust, but it was a significant deflection, and he will be pleased with that one.
Bairstow pushed too hard at a ball that wasn’t really there to drive off the back foot, and Woakes was probably due a failure. Thus it was Moeen who was principally responsible for getting an unquestionably sub-par 224-6 to a perhaps adequate 297. There may be better batsmen than Moeen around, but there are few as delightful to watch as he is. He has that languid (and frustrating style) that is rather reminiscent of David Gower. One item worthy of note here is that Moeen was today batting at seven. Helped rather substantially by his unbeaten century against Sri Lanka, his average when batting in that position is now over 80. The sample remains far too small to draw conclusions either way, but he wouldn’t be the first player to respond to being in the lower order by batting like a lower order player instead of the batsman that he is.
For Pakistan, the man of the day was quite clearly Sohail Khan – a 32 year old playing only his third Test and his first in nearly five years. His time in the limelight may yet be brief, but there is a special pleasure to be had in seeing an unlikely successful comeback. That he is a right arm bowler may have worked in his favour, after two Tests with solely left arm seamers for England to negotiate. But he bowled well, deserved his success and his evident pleasure (and press ups) leaving the field couldn’t help but raise a smile.
The weather forecast for day two isn’t particularly great, and the England bowlers will hope to make the most of the leaden skies. Yet the England total is not big enough to prove decisive barring something extraordinary. We may well have another good match on our hands.
And finally, the last England wicket fell with five minutes of play remaining, and 86 overs bowled. Once again the required number of overs in the day fell short, even with the additional half hour, and once again nothing will be done about it. Given that, we can assume that the ICC approves of literally shortchanging their paying customers. It remains unacceptable, it remains disgraceful.
Day two comments below
The reason England have enjoyed success in recent years in my view is their lower middle orders ability to bail them out of trouble. Once again today 150/5 becomes 300. Very rarely does 150/5 become 200 all out. When Cook and Root fail this becomes very important.
All the fawning over Cooks captaincy by the media misses this single vital ingredient. Whether by design or I suspect by good fortune they have found enough bowlers who can bat to very good effect. I suspect that is why Ali s place in the team is very secure no matter how poorly he bowls in the short term because they value his batting in the lower order. But they don’t trust him to bat in the top six on a permanent basis, and with Bairstow md Stokes they don’t need to.
If Pakistan had finished England off for 200-230 it would be a good days work. But Pakistan may struggle to make 200 tomorrow.
This decade (since 2010) the team batting first in England has lost 11 times. Doing the maths that’s less than one a series. England have lost just two test matches at home when batting first. Once was against Pakistan at The Oval in 2010, and the other against South Africa, also at The Oval, in 2012.
The range of scores for the team batting first and losing is wide. From the 60 made by Australia at Trent Bridge last year up to the 400 made by Sri Lanka at Cardiff in 2012. England’s two scores when losing were 223 in 2010 and 385 in 2012. Three times the team batting first at The Oval has lost, and three times this decade it has happened at Edgbaston.
The losing team’s scores at Birmingham have been 136 (Australia), 224 (India) and 72 (Pakistan).
I’m not sure if this proves anything, but here are the scores from bottom to top this decade that have been the result of batting first and being the losing team.
Nothing between 243 and 370. A statistical little quirk. Our 297 sits pretty much bang in the middle.
And to complete the picture since 2010, seven teams have posted an innings of less than 300 batting first and won. On five of those occasions the team batting second passed the first innings score..
EvI at Nottingham 2011 – England 221 (rescued by Broad and Prior?) – India 228. 
EvA at Nottingham 2013 – England 215 – Australia (Agar day) 280 
EvA at Durham 2013 – England 238 – Australia 270 
SL v E at Leeds 2014 – Sri Lanka 257 – England 365 
I v E at Lord’s 2014 – India 295 – England 319 
In each of those sides batting first, the third innings of the match saw improvements in the score
E v I – 221 —> 554
E v A – 215 —> 375
E v A – 238 —> 330
SL v E- 257 —> 457 (Day 4, Day 4)
I v E – 295 —> 342
The smallest improvement was 47 runs, the biggest 333.
The other two games were E v NZ in 2013, a low scoring game with England’s 232 the highest score of the match, at Lord’s, and was followed by 207, 213 and NZ being skittled for 68.
And the other was this “summer” at Leeds when England posted 298 and won by an innings and plenty.
Again, interesting to see how the range of these scores under 300 when winning indicate that scores below 200 are fatal, and keeping the lead down to less than 100 is key unless your captain/coach/bowlers have a complete meltdown.
With that, I’m walking the dog.
Just to return to the Ed Smith issue, I did find this amusing….Mr Smith teaches a course at The University of Buckingham. This is the UKs first private university (they boast they take no govt funding, and were very much linked to Margret Thatcher who became their second chancellor.
Anyway, I thought this is priceless ……………..their motto is the following….
“Flying on our own wings.”
It would seem the university had their own plagiarism problems as this piece in the Times points out. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/education/article4392437.ece
I just caught up on this today. I’m astounded more is not being made of it. It’s outright, blatant plagiarism. Why is cricinfo not treating it as such?
And this “apology” that basically says “Smith is an expert in stress and he thanks the Economist for their survey in this (ie. his) field” is a joke.
I find it really surprising that neither of the publications in question have not responded more strongly.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Good to see WI dig in and save the 2nd Test and great to see it was their younger batsmen doing it. They now need to find a way to take 20 Indian wickets in a match.
England going top of the rankings moves a step closer. The most India can now achieve is to tie the ranking score England would achieve by beating Pakistan 3-1. Australia coming back to win or draw the series in SL would keep them top.
Another “civilised and reasonable” (TM Vic Marks) action by the chaps at the ECB:
And this shows even the reactionaries are getting restless….
Since he wrote that there have been two excellent fifth days of Tests!
“Having a four-day programme makes life easier for the broadcasters upon whom the sport’s financial health depends; it saves money at grounds that must prepare for an often unremunerated fifth day; but above all it frees time for more short-form cricket” rather hit the nail on the head I thought.
Wow…..paging Mr Graves……
“This is really about money, but is all painfully short-termist. Although Lords was full, Old Trafford was not, and test cricket even against as serious a side as Pakistan seems hard to sell out of London. There seems an inadequate analysis of the reasons for this, and instead a capitulation to the commercial supremacy of the short game. Given cricket is part of the entertainment market, it should perhaps ask whether it is charging too much for the privilege of attending tests.”
“The trouble with day one of a Test is that unless one side has had a truly grim day every summary at the end of it revolves around it being too early to say whether the score is a good one, the toss decision is a good one or if the pitch is favouring one side in particular. There are only so many ways to say that it’s in the balance and that after tomorrow we will know more.”
Sure, but at least you will say that. No professional pundit would dare say that, he would declare a slight edge, and pick his favourate player/hobby horse as evidence. As ex-pro’s, they should know better than anyone that 10/300 on day one proves nothing.
“Bairstow pushed too hard at a ball that wasn’t really there to drive off the back foot, ”
You mean Root? Bairstow edged attempting to cut.
Despite what I said above, I’d call it Pak’s day. Eng had their chance and they were nothing more than competent. I’d rather be Misbah ul Haq than Alistair Cook tonight.
In fact I’d always rather be Misbah ul Haq than Alistair Cook.
I felt he was more trying to force a ball that he should have been cutting rather than playing a cut as such. But it’s open to interpretation really.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I didn’t see it that way, but cricket is very open to interpretation.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Here is a little titbit….
Apparantly Nike is getting out of Golf……….Getting Out of Clubs, Bags and Golf Ball Businesses?
No Tiger, no sales. Rory isn’t shifting clubs by all accounts.
Wonder if thats a result of Rory being so up and down in his performance. He’s not exactly been the brand embassador that Tiger was for them. I seem to remember reading his sponsorship was quite a wedge of cash as well!
Hafeez has given yet another demonstration on why his average outside Asia (50.12) is poor. Extremely poor – 32.50 is his best average on another continent, and that is mainly due to a 95 he made in England a decade ago. On no other continent does he even average 20. In 17 Tests outside Asia, 1 ton, 1 50 (the aforementioned 95 he made in England a decade ago). That ton came against Zimbabwe in 2011. And he still does not even average 20 in Africa.
Not saying that Masood was the answer, but an opening batsman who has not been cleared to bowl, and performs worse than your average tailender is extremely lucky to be in the side.
Woakes to Azhar Ali, no run, ooh, that’s a jaffa! Woakes gets it just a touch full, 878mph and straightening down the line as Azhar comes forward, done him like a kipper
Quite pacy, this Woakes…
Super day’s play in Galle with standout performances by Mendis (again) and Starc.
The pitch has started to turn since tea and Australia need a first innings’ lead here.
I’m going to sound churlish, but the ball look seriously damaged by a bottle top or similar. I love reverse swing, but three straight gouges down the rough side?
As I type, Pakistan are at a reasonable situation at 76-1. I thought on seeing some of the action yesterday that England weren’t in that bad a shape but a couple of good partnerships and it may be that Pakistan will get a decisive lead? Anderson had a catch put down and he’s been in a bad mood!
95/1 after 40 overs.
Very good and important partnership, even if the runrate for the partnership is a bit low (2.4 at the moment). However, since Pakistan have bowled England out on Day 1, that is not going to be much of a problem (yet). The importance is not just the runs, but also tiring the bowlers. Others down the order might be able to up the tempo, if the game situation + conditions allow for that.
Oh, and we’re about 5 overs behind where we ought to have been after 3 hours of play. And reviews are obviously not an excuse for that since none have been taken.
Jimmy’s been behaving in his normal classy manner, chuntering at both umpires not giving him decisions and speaking to him for running on the wicket. Maybe his captain should be having a word and calming him down. Match ref might want a word as well tonight. Like the look of the new opener. Think he’s got more in one innings than Shah Masood got in four.
Masood got 7, 24, 39, 1. I make that 71 runs from 4 innings.
Hafeez 40, 0, 18, 42, 0 from 5 innings. That is 100 from 5 innings, with a long track record of overseas failure (this is already Hafeez’s best series outside of Asia, consisting of more than 1 Test played).
Bit more work to yet then! Bet he’s batted as long. This is good old fashioned attritional test cricket from Pakistan. They seem to realise there are five days (for now) in a test match. If they can manage to eke out 450 or so, they will take some beating.
From BBC: “View from the press box”: mike selvey – selvecricket: “If you want a bowler to pitch the ball up Finn is not your man. He bowls a heavy length. Pitch it up and he floats it.”
Like his mate Saker used to get Anderson and Broad to pitch it up all those summers …
Nice thread for you to enjoy here – click replies as ever:
And the sequel:
Literally no-one who doesn’t wear eau du derriere du Selvey didn’t see this coming…
The widespread assumption that Pakistan would roll over and die today appears to have been slightly off the mark….
If they play like this they might even win a Test this series you know.
Sami Aslam just run out. 181/2 – and he looked so good for a maiden Test ton.
Could be a tricky couple of hours for Pakistan.
Azhar’s got his though, Broad and Jimmy grumpy about the press-ups. 2 (deserved) warnings for Jimmy for running on the pitch and he’s still chuntering away. They wonder why they are the most unpopular team on the circuit with both opponents and umpires.
Azhar at least gets his hundred.
Anderson just giving another exhibit on why England are among the least liked sides by other teams.
Oh, and he gets two warnings in the 68th over. One more, and he might explode on the field.
Delighted for Azhar who seems a perpetually underrated player.
I’d say more but unfortunately my ECB gagging clause prevents me.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Anderson warned for running on pitch…this could get interesting for the Jimmy fans. I’m not sure that yelling abuse at the umpires was a very astute way of getting them on his side.
I’m always reminded of a team mate who could never quite grasp that when he spent all the time constantly whining and bitching at the umpire, it was the same umpire he wanted to give him lbws. He just didn’t get it.
Maybe he’s not very bright.
Anderson has a bit of history about running on the pitch – generally when he is tired/injured/not fully fit. Perhaps this is yet more ammunition for those of us who thought the medical team made a good call not to let him play at Lords.
Gower just cited Selvey’s excellent writing…
Mark Nicholas on C5 after the Azhar Ali wicket:
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that off the last ball of the day.”
Speaking. From. Edgbaston.
It’s exactly 11 years Saturday since the main reason you still have a TV career, Mark.
LikeLiked by 1 person
One of the great balls-ups…
LikeLiked by 1 person
Actually, I have to go and watch that video again. It’s one of my favourite YouTube clips.
Could I add Adelaide 2002 because I was there? Vaughan for 177.