England vs Pakistan: 3rd Test Day Five

Pakistan must be wondering how they contrived to lose this game. Having been 257-2 one ball before the close of play on day two, a mere 40 runs behind England, they would surely have expected to go on to win the match. Even though their first innings wasn’t as big as it could have been, it still left them with a lead in excess of 100.

Indeed, although England wiped off the deficit without loss, they were soon back in some kind of trouble at effectively 23-2 and again though less so at effectively 179-5. That turned out to be the final chance to win the game, from there Moeen and Bairstow took the match away from Pakistan and by the start of play today a draw was about the best they could hope for.

Cook has not been especially brave with his declarations during his captaincy but there could be few complaints (whatever the eventual result) with today. The plan was clearly to throw the bat and declare as soon as possible and Moeen rather helped by taking the first over from Yasir for 20. He might be a flawed player (albeit one who has had a great year to date with the bat) but he is exceptionally unselfish. He could have a better batting average than he does by quietly ensuring the red ink, but many a time he has got out desperately seeking runs when batting with the tail. Today his immediate assault ensured that it was quite clear England were going for the win.

344 was the nominal target, but despite a pitch that was still flat, and despite the usual panic about Pakistan making it, the history of the game makes it clear that such targets are unlikely in the extreme. But there was no reason at all the tourists couldn’t bat out the day, the surface showed no signs of breaking up – if anything the only concession to four days of play was for it to have got slower and lower.

When batting out time a key requirement is to have a good start, but Hafeez once again decided to give England a boost. Having slapped a long hop to point in the first innings, this time he decided to hook Broad straight to Woakes at fine leg. Batsmen make mistakes, it’s part of the game, but this was poor batting and given the circumstances, somewhat irresponsible.

Still, there was a recovery from there, Azhar Ali joining the hugely impressive youngster Sami Aslam. For a time, all seemed serene and England were, if not flat, somewhat subdued.

It was not long before tea that all hell broke loose, four wickets falling for a single run as Anderson, Finn and Woakes ripped through the middle order. Edgbaston is the most raucous, noisy ground on the English circuit, and when the home team gets on top – especially with the ball, it creates an air of expectancy and certainty that another wicket is round the corner. Enough sportmen are quick to say that the crowd can be the twelfth player for it to be obvious that this does make a difference, and it takes a strong team to resist that kind of atmosphere.

When Finn (who bowled at times with something approaching his old hostility) persuaded Sami to leave a ball that darted back in to the crash into his off stump, it was all over bar the shouting. An entertaining last wicket partnership merely delayed the inevitable slightly.

Make no mistake about it, this was a fine England victory. The lower order strength in batting rescued them from an unpromising position, and when the seamers get some shape through the air, they look lethally dangerous. England’s bowlers are superb exponents of making the most of favourable conditions, where they look toothless is when there’s nothing to help them, for they don’t have the raw pace or hostility to trouble opponents on flat and unhelpful surfaces/conditions. No matter, for all bowling sides can be criticised for the times they don’t succeed, but England do have a useful unit, one that might be completed by a truly Test class spinner. Ah yes, the Moeen question – he has a poor average but it’s worth noting that he also has a very similar strike rate to Nathan Lyon. It’s hard to see anyone else being a radical improvement, which isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be tried of course.

Today they forced a win they had little right to expect. It was great to watch, and a perfect example of why those who talk about four day Tests are quite simply wrong. 

England can go to the top of the ICC Test rankings if they win the final Test. That is perhaps more reflective of a number of flawed sides in world cricket than anything else, for there is no outstanding team in the game, only ones who look good sometimes, dreadful others. A degree of uncertainty is not something to be unhappy about, though winning away in the modern era looks increasingly difficult to achieve.

This was a second good Test from three this series. If the final one of the summer approaches it then it will have been one of the better ones in recent years. It was therefore slightly disappointing that Edgbaston was barely half full for what was likely to be a good final day. This time it wasn’t about the pricing, as £16 for adults was well judged and good value.

It was a weekend, England had a good chance of winning and it was cheap. But not full or close to it. Perhaps this is having unreasonable expectations, misremembering a time when there were queues to get in; certainly the 80,000 spectators over five days seems a number the authorities are pleased with. It just doesn’t feel like cricket can ever again truly capture the public, and that’s a deep concern.

England 2-1 up, and no one has even thought about the score across the whole tour. I suspect most have forgotten about it. Which probably says it all.

One final point. The over rate today was excellent. Indeed had they needed to really push they might have been able to squeeze another in. Funny that. 


77 thoughts on “England vs Pakistan: 3rd Test Day Five

  1. alecpaton Aug 7, 2016 / 7:03 pm

    It was a really good test match all round, with advantage swinging from one team to the other. Ultimately, England’s strength in depth from both batsmen and bowlers saw them win out (similarly to the Edgbaston test last year where England’s lower order runs combined with their bowling resources following Jimmy’s injury helped them to victory).

    On the run rate issue, Alastair Cook seems to have learnt his lesson from last winter, where their bowling go-slow saw them lose out when time ran out in their push for victory in the first test in the UAE. He also, perhaps rather more pertinently, failed to succumb to RIcky Ponting’s mistake at Cardiff in 2009: for all the celebration of Anderson and Panesar’s last stand, they were helped by the need to cram the overs in and thus Ponting’s reliance on the spin of Marcus North instead of the pace of Johnson, Hilfenhaus or Siddle. If only he could be persuaded to stay on top of it permanently rather than just at the business end of tests.


  2. CRICKETJON Aug 7, 2016 / 7:43 pm

    Great win as I have just said on the Day 4 comments page.

    Someone needs to have a word with Jonny Bairstow. His behaviour on the fall of the final wicket cannot be tolerated unless we are giving awards to sportsmen a la Brad Haddin/Grant Elliot. What is the point otherwise?


  3. man in a barrel Aug 7, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    The contrast between the emotional maturity of Misbah and Cook is interesting. I think both of them are in the mould of captains who bond teams in adversity, such as Charles Lloyd, Jardine, Hutton, or Imran, rather than tactical geniuses such as Close, Brearley or the Hon A C. Jackson. Neither has the inspirational quality of APF Chapman


    • thelegglance Aug 7, 2016 / 8:50 pm

      I would doubt either of them drink anything like as much either. Chapman was a troubled man


      • sidesplittin Aug 7, 2016 / 9:22 pm

        Indeed, heck of a thirst allegedly. Not sure how MIAB knows he was inspirational – perhaps he saw him play ? 😉

        Nice balanced report btw.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. man in a barrel Aug 7, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    Chapman was inspirational. And maybe the best fielder of his generation – Lords 1930. Players seemed to want to play for him. Maybe like Ingleby at Hampshire.


    • thelegglance Aug 7, 2016 / 8:56 pm

      He was the captain of my first club – albeit long before I was around – it’s not a pleasant story, such a shame


  5. man in a barrel Aug 7, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    Leglance, maybe you might think about a post on that topic, about strategic captains such as Jardine, tacticians such as Illingworth or Brearley, or figureheads such as Worrell, Lloyd, Imran, or Misbah. Where does Cook fit? Or Taylor?


    • thelegglance Aug 7, 2016 / 10:48 pm

      Interesting idea. Necessarily subjective of course, but I like it.


      • SimonH Aug 8, 2016 / 8:03 am

        Brearley’s strength was more as a man-manager than a tactician I’d have thought.


    • Benny Aug 8, 2016 / 11:57 am

      Just a vote for Brian Close, who rarely gets a mention. Many thought he was brilliant but he was sacked by MCC for tactics in a county game that displeased them.


  6. pktroll (@pktroll) Aug 8, 2016 / 7:33 am

    It was a superb innings from Ali that really did help change the direction of the match. England were still in an awkward situation when he came in but he got his bearings, started playing controlled shots and then really opened up. The first over of yesterday morning was brilliant and definitely made the declaration far easier. That said the afternoon collapse was something else.


  7. SimonH Aug 8, 2016 / 8:36 am

    This tour’s in danger of turning into 2014, I’m afraid – one good win at Lord’s and then the tourists disintegrate.

    That win seems to have convinced some people Pakistan are a better side than they are. They are a tough team in their adopted home – but even there, their unbeaten record masks how many series they’ve drawn and the number of thumping feats they’ve experienced (both SA and NZ have beaten them by an innings). Away from home, they’ve only toured SA and Zimbabwe in the last five years and couldn’t even beat Zimbabwe. Their high place in the rankings reflects their lack of touring. Unlike the very-nearly-great Pakistan teams of the 70s, 80s and 90s, very few of their players have played abroad. I think only Younis and Wahab have brief experience in the CC (unlike the 70s team where Majid, Sadiq, Zaheer, Mushtaq, Asif Iqbal, Imran, Sarfraz and Intikhab were all county regulars as were Javed, Wasim, Waqar, Mushtaq and Salim Malik of the later team.

    Some of us have tried to point out their batting weakness outside of Asia. Hafeez and Shafiq have started to live down to their records. Their two star batsmen are both over 38 and it was always a danger that one would be embarrassed on this tour. The only surprise is that it’s Younis rather than Misbah. Pakistan’s bowling has been given a bit of a free pass – their attack consists of two seamers with career averages over 35, one seamer playing his first Tests for five years and one spinner playing his first ever Tests outside Asia (possibly his first f/c matches outside Asia?).

    England are the best team in the world now and the rankings are soon going to reflect that. The team has weaknesses but India’s and Australia’s are even worse. England are more competitive in diverse foreign conditions than India and more competitive in Asian conditions than Australia (although this winter will reveal more about that). Of course a side of England’s wealth and size should spend considerable time at the top of the rankings.


    • nonoxcol Aug 8, 2016 / 9:07 am

      Watch out, the SnivellingWretch kangaroo court will soon be condemning you for apostasy.


  8. Mark Aug 8, 2016 / 10:32 am

    The dictionary definition of a flat-track bully is as follows…….”noun. 1. a sportsperson who dominates inferior opposition, but who cannot beat top-level opponents.”

    I would say England are the classic flat track bullies. A team created to beat the very average standard of modern opponents,, and cover up their own weakness. Half their top order batting is not fit for purpose, so they are forced to have a long batting line up which includes a fake wicketkeeper, and a batsman who bowls part time spin. They have no genuine spinner of any repute.

    They also require no leader of invention of tactical nous. Captaincy by numbers is all that is required. England are the cricket equivalent of Googles driverless cars. No driver/leader is required. You just programme where you want to go and the computer takes you there.

    I don’t believe the captain has contributed anything (outside of his runs) to any Test victory in the last 3 years. Anderson, Broad, Bell, as captain would have resulted in exactly the same results. England have been genetically modified to need no captain. They are self governing. That is their strength. Shame the media is so incompetent that it thinks he is the most important factor. He is in fact completely irrelevant.


    • SimonH Aug 8, 2016 / 10:59 am

      Mark Nicholas (I don’t know if you’ve read his piece, Mark – I think you might combust) claimed the Azhar Ali dismissal was inspired captaincy. It was certainly a good plan – and poor batting to fall for it.

      Did Cook come up with the idea? Who knows – maybe it was the bowler or one of the coaches? It’s not as unheard of an idea as Nicholas makes it sound although it is quite unusual in the modern era – but a short gully for an off-spinner used to be quite a standard ploy for an offie with a good arm ball. Cook could have vetoed it so deserves some credit for that at least.

      Cook has become a good captain when the team are under little pressure. He is then willing to try things. Pakistan were never going to get the runs yesterday. England have also worked out good field placings on slow, dry pitches (that started on the WI tour 2014/15). How much of that is down to Cook is again difficult to say. Misbah’s limitations as a captain have been exposed on this tour – but then he doesn’t have an army of researchers coming up with ideas.

      Cook’s big limitation is still his tendency to be over-defensive when a match is losable. The 3rd Test in UAE was the last example.


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 8, 2016 / 11:12 am

        This is not meant to be churlish but here goes.

        When we remember Adelaide 2006, do you here anyone, and I mean anyone, ever say “that was terrific captaincy by Ricky Ponting “?

        As with all matters the events are judged by the framed narrative. Cook captained well yesterday. But the framed narrative for both ends of the spectrum countenances no compromise.


      • Mark Aug 8, 2016 / 11:34 am

        Mark Nicholas is a Cook fan boy, so I take little notice of his views. It is my observation that Cook has been bailed out by his bowling attack for his perod of captaincy. Remember Anderson saying after Lords against India that they dumped the so called bowling plans in the trash can, and just bowled naturally? Or Cooks own admission against Sri Lanka that it was Andersons ideas?

        His one eyed tactics, are to get in front, and then exert pressure from a position of strength. His bowling attack covers up his lack of courage and invention. The idea of having to risk losing a game to gain a victory is never in Cooks mind. Safety first is the only tactic. But hey, when the opposition crumble like a cheap suit it is all that is required.

        If Pakistan had batted out yesterday there would have been no criticsm from Mark Nicholas of his slow over rate, or his desire to set a completely unattainable target. Strauss and Flower had exactly the same method. One trick ponies. That is why I say the team does not require a leader. The plan is pre programmed. Some will say it’s fine because it works. Yes, but it means the captain is irrelevant , an empty suit could do it. And does.


      • thelegglance Aug 8, 2016 / 12:15 pm

        The big change in his captaincy came with Bayliss’ appointment as coach. Before then he wasn’t a captain, he was just a cipher for the coach’s instructions, and therefore couldn’t and didn’t react to anything going on on the field – that Headingley disaster showed that up better than anything. Bayliss gave him the power to actually lead the team, and so he has had to do the job for the first time.

        He’s not a terrible captain by any means. He is defensive that’s true, but a captain gains his reputation on the basis of his team’s performance more than anything else, which is why you tend to hear such praise for Vaughan or Brearley, and not as much for Hussain who was an outstanding captain of a very poor team. That’s not to say Hussain was a better captain than either, because it’s impossible to accurately measure it – it’s personal opinion at the end of the day. Plus it’s also about timing, Hussain was a superb captain of that particular team at that particular time, he may not have been as good with the better England side of the mid noughties.

        But I don’t think it can be reasonably denied that Cook is far, far better now than he was before, and it’s my suspicion that being freed to actually be captain is the principal reason for that. Simon’s view that his tendency to be over-defensive when a match is losable seems about right to me, and quite a good way of describing it. A lot of captains have that particular weakness.

        He’s a bit one dimensional, but he’s also fairly competent. I don’t see a huge difference in either style or approach between him and Strauss, if anything Cook is a little more creative of the two, and less inclined to simply sit in and bowl dry – again, this may have more to do with the coach.

        The other thing is the stuff we can’t see and can’t know – how he is perceived in the dressing room as captain. That’ll take years to come out.

        Liked by 1 person

    • sidesplittin Aug 8, 2016 / 1:08 pm

      “His one eyed tactics, are to get in front……”

      Err, so ignoring the 100 run deficit on the first innings, well judged declaration and taking 10 wickets on the final day, the tactics remain inflexible to you.

      The “fake wicketkeeper” kept terrifically in this test, aside from his runs. Aus arrived as overwhelming favourites for the 2015 Ashes. That they lost might just have had something to do with how Eng coped with them, possibly even with input from the Captain.

      The debacle of Headingly 2014 was 28 tests ago now. Is it just possible that Eng might have learnt / adapted / grown (even) since then ?

      Your comments are stuck on a loop – let some light in Mark, the sun’s out this time of year ☀️


      • Escort Aug 10, 2016 / 4:17 pm



    • Sean B Aug 8, 2016 / 6:43 pm

      The whole T20 will save the very soul of cricket piece yawn! As if it’s really that simple. It really is impossible to judge the IPL’s success (and I say that inadverted commas, unless you call rife match fixing a success) compared to that of England. Is a new T20 competition going to enthuse the masses who haven’t seen a game on TV for 10 years, will it somehow undo the woeful underinvestment in grass roots cricket or will it instead be seen as another potential pocket lining job for a board who only knows how to rip off its fan base??

      I’d be interested if the mouths ghostwriter also ghost wrist this, can’t see too many differences in either piece or perhaps they’re all young and funky T20 fans over at the Telegraph???


    • sidesplittin Aug 8, 2016 / 1:19 pm

      Were it you, in the face of the FCO advice, would you go Simon ?


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 8, 2016 / 2:04 pm

        I may test the hypothesis. And I would go because I’ve said yes. I also know I’m different to a sports team.


    • d'Arthez Aug 8, 2016 / 2:56 pm

      Well, given at what is at stake for England, they won’t be too unhappy if the tour can’t go ahead. After all, Bangladesh are probably due to tour England in the near future – provided that is the year 2521.


    • SimonH Aug 9, 2016 / 7:47 am

      I wouldn’t go – but then I wouldn’t have treated Bangladesh as England have done in this last decade either.

      All I want from the ECB now is that they make the decision on the right grounds. I watched one event on the weekend where competitors’ safety was jeopardised by the desire to provide TV pictures and don’t want to watch another.


  9. man in a barrel Aug 8, 2016 / 11:27 pm

    A team bus is a bigger target than a lone tourist and therefore a more likely target. You just have to read the accounts of how a local official basically took one to protect Chris Broad to conclude that the risk is not worthwhile. Not these days with weapons far more lethal than were available to the IRA in the 70s


  10. man in a barrel Aug 8, 2016 / 11:40 pm

    Re 4th innings collapse… Pakistan collapsed on the 5th day in the UAE series and would have lost the 1st Test without Misbah’s gamesmanship. They relied on England collapsing on 5th day for their 2 victories. I’m not sure why people are bigging it up. Pakistan have 2 guys in reasonable form, Azhar who worked through his problems, Younus the basket case…. Even more flaky than England ‘s top order. It was no miracle. Close would have declared 30 minutes before the close on the 4th day


  11. quebecer Aug 9, 2016 / 1:03 am

    The game hinged on the session after tea on day 3. Up until then it was pretty much hours even, Pakistan with the chance to put all their good work up until then in to a winning position. However, a little bit lacking in the bowling, some very good batting, and by day four, the match really was defined.

    Credit to Hales for that crucial session, but you have to give it up for Cook, who in prime form* made the Pakistani bowlers pay for being a little less than their excellent skipper would have wished. That was the session that defined how a game played between two decent teams both playing decently would end.

    I think people forget how since Misbah has taken over have got the most from what is not the best line up they’ve ever had. I have nothing but respect for any team that plays to its full potential, and Pakistan have been doing that for a while now. But take away Younus from their batting, see how their four bowlers are just not quite enough, and they are just a little short when it comes to matching England. However, what I take form this is what and EXCELLENT job they’ve been doing, getting themselves up in the rankings, and creating a fortress in the UAE. When you don’t have your best team, yet somehow manage to have one of your most successful? Kudos from me for that!

    *Prime form for Cook is easy to see. The ball gets driven to the left of cover. Heck, he even drove in the V a fair bit.


    • fred Aug 10, 2016 / 3:39 pm

      I’m almost certain he’s being sarcastic. I know it’s increasingly hard to tell these days, but surely…


  12. "IronBalls" McGinty Aug 9, 2016 / 10:42 am

    This article caught my attention, as it does pose some serious questions about the future direction of how batsmen play across all formats of the game…these young talented batting stars are queuing up….something has to change????



  13. SimonH Aug 9, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    Third Test started in the West Indies.

    Not a bad first Test wicket for Alzarri Joseph.


    • SimonH Aug 9, 2016 / 6:11 pm

      Early days yet, but this is shaping up to be a decent contest in the Third Test. WI have won the toss, picked four seamers and the pitch has some life.

      India’s batting without Vijay and Pujara looks potentially brittle and with a long tail. WI haven’t beaten India since 2002 (I think – not checked that) and this is as good a chance as they’re going to get.


  14. oreston Aug 9, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    Catching a little of this match via (ahem…) the internet at the moment and I can’t get my head round just how utterly and depressingly empty the ground is. Seriously, I doubt there are even 50 people watching.

    Test match cricket is screwed.


      • oreston Aug 10, 2016 / 12:31 pm

        OK I should rather have said, “test match cricket outside of a handful of elite countries is screwed.” I think it’s inarguable that it’s going nowhere fast in the Caribbean at the moment.

        The Edgbaston attendances were not at all bad (average of a little over 16,000 per day in a ground with a capacity of 23,500) but I don’t think it sold out even on the Saturday- which you might’ve expected 20 years ago.


      • Mark Aug 10, 2016 / 12:48 pm

        If you think 81,832 people over 5 days in one country is going to support and sustain Test cricket internationally then you are even more deluded than the pro England/ ECB troll I have always taken you for. (In addition, if the ECB get their way and 4 day cricket comes in that figure will fall to nearer 65000 over 4 days.)

        It is funny how a supposed (cough cough ) New Zealand supporter always shows up here to gloat at every Cook/ENGLAND win, or to regurgitate ECB talking points.

        Let me be quite clear. I have no problem with you expressing your views, which you are quite entitled to do. What I object to is what I believe to be your fake, impartial pretence that some how you don’t have a dog in the fight. I have more respect for a staunch ECB /Cook supporter who is open about who he is, and which side he is on. Rather than someone who would have us believe that he comes on a cricket site dressed up as a Kiwi to spout pro ECB talking points. And before you reply in an outraged, concern troll way that I don’t know you. I have read your posts, over the last year, and the similar snarky defence of the ECB, and Cooks England. Sorry, but I don’t believe a real New Zealand supporter would waste his time on such a venture.

        If I am wrong, and you are who you claim to be; A real New Zealander, albeit writing pro ECB/Cook talking points on a cricket blog in England then my sincere apologies. And my deepest sympathies for your lack of anything better to do. However, I have a pretty good nose at sniffing out trolls at 300 yards. Particularly the snarky “concern troll” variety. Anyway, Good day to you, or should that be good night!


        • LordCanisLupus Aug 10, 2016 / 12:54 pm

          Just to let you know, Mark, that he is a new Zealander and is assisting with good background stuff for my piece on 1986.

          I’d rather we didn’t tear lumps out of each other!

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Aug 10, 2016 / 2:59 pm

        I have no desire to tear lumps off anyone. I’m just slightly tired of the snarky pro ECB digs that seem to appear right on cue time and time again from this poster. But maybe he really is genuine.

        If you say he is a New Zealander then I must accept that. Anyway, who ever he is, and where ever he comes from I will choose not to engage anymore, I will just ignore it. I have no interest in upsetting the site.


        • sidesplittin Aug 10, 2016 / 4:05 pm

          Yes, Oreston – “there are none so blind as those who will not see” 😉


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 10, 2016 / 4:33 pm

            I have a number people in mind. None of them Mark. 😉


  15. SimonH Aug 10, 2016 / 8:04 am

    Classic team-that’s-forgotten-how-to-win performance from the West Indies.

    Some of the ways they contrived not to break the Ashwin-Saha partnership:
    1) Dropping Ashwin at short-leg.
    2) An atrocious umpiring decision – Saha was given not out playing no shot and it was ‘umpire’s call’ on the replay. When batsmen don’t play, umpires have got to give those. It was Umpire Llong so perhaps it could have been anything.
    3) Several edges falling just short of keeper/slips (the pitch has some lateral movement but lacks bounce again).
    4) Getting Ashwin caught only for it be a no-ball – and not just any old no-ball but the back foot cutting the return crease.

    WI are still not out of it (a couple of quick wickets and all that) but it could and should have been so much better.


    • d'Arthez Aug 10, 2016 / 2:08 pm

      This could be the first Test series in which every Test has an allrounder makes a century and takes a 5-fer. Ashwin in the first, Chase in the second, Ashwin potentially again in the third.


  16. d'Arthez Aug 10, 2016 / 10:24 am

    Meanwhile in Zimbabwe it is Reiffel versus Zimbabwe. Only one way that can end …


  17. sidesplittin Aug 10, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    Thanks LCL – I won’t dignify Mark’s allegations with a response; he might self immolate.


    • Mark Aug 10, 2016 / 3:09 pm

      By my reading it’s just gone 3am Auckland time. Insomnia is such pain.


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 10, 2016 / 4:34 pm

        We get hits from many time zones. My favourite regular is from Joinville in Brazil. We get precious few from New Zealand.


  18. SimonH Aug 10, 2016 / 2:45 pm

    Another team this England side are better than – themselves in 2011 according to Jimmy A:


    He says this team have more talent, more mental toughness, are younger and their rise to the top has been less planned (why that’s a good thing I’m not sure). Not that they’re actually at the top yet – but as we’ve seen, we don’t have to wait for such trifles. England don’t in truth have a very good record in final Tests of series recently, they’ve only one of the last nine I reckon, but who needs to wait to see if England can win at the Oval?

    That this team is better than 2005 is already established. It’s a fact. No more debate needed about that one. So what about 2011?

    Specialist batting: Strauss-Cook-Trott-Pietersen-Collingwood-Bell versus Cook-Hales-Root-Vince-Ballance?

    Lower middle order: Prior-Bresnan-Swann-Broad versus Stokes-Baiirstow-Ali-Woakes?

    Bowling: Anderson (aged 29)-Broad-Bresnan-Finn-Tremlett-Onions-Swann-Panesar versus Anderson (aged 34)-Broad-Finn-Woakes-Wood-Stokes-Ali-Rashid?

    I’d rate the 2011 team as significantly ahead on spin, a little ahead on specialist batting and it pretty even on seam options and fielding. The 2015 only have the edge on lower middle order batting.

    We know the 2011 team burnt-out quickly – but it wasn’t in reality full of aged players. We know the 2011 team won an away Ashes and a Test series in Asia – this team haven’t achieved either yet (they might – but could we wait until they do?). This team might stay at the top of the rankings longer – but they haven’t got a team close to Smith-Kallis-Steyn era SA to overcome.

    I wonder how Andy Flower took the news?

    Liked by 1 person

      • fred Aug 10, 2016 / 4:08 pm

        Oh they left a legacy alright. I do vaguely remember that they reached number 1 for a short period, but their real legacy is that aside from a dull attritional style, they were one of the most unpleasant English teams I can remember taking the field, and their culture ultimately led to them acrimoniously tearing themselves apart, reaping what they sowed. Don’t worry Jimmy, history won’t forget that team.
        The current lot are positively likeable in comparison. Well, some of them anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Aug 10, 2016 / 4:31 pm

          I think it slightly unfair to label the 2010-11 teams “dull and attritional” especially with KP, Bell and Prior in our batting line up, making regular contributions. Let’s not cloud our judgement just because all joy got taken out of the team towards its end.


      • Escort Aug 10, 2016 / 4:59 pm

        Is this perhaps PR rubbish to deflect attention from the fact that the self named leader of the attack has again been suspended from bowling for running on the pitch


      • quebecer Aug 10, 2016 / 5:41 pm

        I think Fred – remembering here he’s an Aussie – has a bit of a point about England of that era. Flower brought two main tactics to maximize runs, and maximize wickets. The ‘bowling dry’ worked perfectly for that four man attack of Anderson, Broad, Bresnan, and Swann, but yes, aside from the odd time when Broad had his tail up and was running through a team, none are the most spectacular of bowlers to watch. The batting style that Fred is referring to was also very deliberate, Flower virtually removing nicking off by driving home the idea of leaving virtually everything outside off stump, forcing bowlers in to the natural easy scoring zones of players like Trott and Pietersen. People forget that for the first hundred or so runs in Adelaide, KP played almost exclusively from the right hand of mid off to the left hand of fine leg. Attritional cricket? Well, yes. However, one might also call it test cricket.

        Of course, it’s a bit of a stretch to describe Pietersen or Bell as dull and unattractive batsmen. And Fred also overlooks the fact that our lower order scored plenty at a very fair clip.

        I remember Fred saying this at the time, and I’m pretty sure we ‘discussed’ it a bit. However, I have to admit that hindsight lends some weight to his position, in that it WAS a pretty joyless environment in many ways, something that was hidden at the time by the fact they were winning.

        Liked by 1 person

      • fred Aug 10, 2016 / 6:16 pm

        I guess there could be multiple reasons Dmitri why I disliked that side more than you:)

        Of course a one-liner can’t sum up something as complex as a cricket team, and The Big Cheese could certainly knock it about if he had a platform, but as Quebecer rightly says it was the dry bowling I had in mind especially, along with the defense-first tone set by the top three, Cook especially.

        Back then too, Anderson was still a work in progress, he’s improved his repetoire in the last few years. He genuinely was an English swing specialist, a criticism it’s increasingly hard to make now.

        My view was also formed by things like the time wasting at Cardiff (the physio running on to change gloves), Broad’s shoelaces, Broad against Pakistan collecting on his follow through and throwing the ball at the batsman, breaking his thumb, jelly beans, Cook refusing to declare overnight against NZ with the weather closing in (was it Edgbaston?) and Trott saying we got it “spot on” (although they did get away with that one), “I drive a Porsche”, and many other incidents that caused me to find them boorish. Of course, other teams also got up to shenanigans, not all these relate to playing style, and not all are dull! Then they started taking themselves very seriously, with talks of legacy and 80 page cookbooks…

        It’s true I may have mentioned it once or twice on that other blog I used to participate in.

        I think Quebecers post must have been truncated, there’s usually a bit at the end along the lines of “But what fred misses entirely…”


      • quebecer Aug 11, 2016 / 2:49 am

        Sorry, yes. Of course, what Fred misses entirely is that firstly, asking our top 3 to play in any other style would have defeated the purpose of them playing at all, and they were certainly our best available top 3. Secondly, both the top order batting and the dry bowling allowed for some excellent cricket to then be played, and not just by the lower order buffing it around. Pietersen and Bell became the nailed on real deal in terms of test batsman because of this strategy, and we’ve all already accepted there was nothing wrong with watching either of them bat, ever. Also, the exceptional pieces of bowling one could see within the ‘dry’ strategy are clearly lost on my Aussie compadre. Think Bresnan pitching one on leg and hitting off to the opposition’s top batsmen; think Swann’s excellent use of the side slider to any leftie; think Jimmy hooping both ways; think Broad when battle was at its hottest, demanding the ball and charging in. No, there was great cricket played within that scheme if you looked. Sadly, poor Fred missed it entirely.


      • fred Aug 11, 2016 / 8:39 am

        That’s better. Having Quebecer agree with me was making me uneasy.
        But there seems to be a suggestion that the likes of Bell and KP could only do their thing if Cook first nudged the ball off his hips for a couple of hours. Trescothik might disagree with that.
        But no it wasn’t all dull. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.


    • nonoxcol Aug 10, 2016 / 6:31 pm

      Good lord. Compare Ali Martin’s piece on *Cook* that went up 20 minutes ago.

      Almost word for word the same quotes about the team.

      (And bonus points for SimonH, who said back in May that Cook would stay as captain to break Vaughan’s record…)


  19. Mark Aug 10, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    Yes, well we all know that this is the greatest test team ever. Not just English but all comers.

    In other news, Swann is returning with the Lions….They really are getting the old band back together. Strauss, Flower, Swann. Although this made me smile in George’s piece….

    “Alastair Cook recently brushed off questions about Swann’s involvement as a coach, suggesting he was too busy with his media commitments.”



  20. fred Aug 10, 2016 / 3:36 pm

    More great writing from Lemon.

    I know he’s nowhere near the literary genius of a Selvey or a Bull, but he does try hard.
    Sarcasm aside, it’s great to see reflective pieces like this, and a huge contrast to the “my secret sources tell me” stuff.

    There was a time I’d prefer English writing to Australian, as the latter was often just poorly composed match reports. But now with the likes of Lemon, Haigh, Kimber and Russ Jackson, (and Christian Ryan whenever he pops up) it seems the tables are being turned. They seem to have an eye for the humanity and the personal in the events they’re watching.

    Liked by 1 person

    • quebecer Aug 11, 2016 / 2:52 am

      I think Lemon really knows his stuff, and has a very keen eye for the point. But what’s he got against paragraphs with more than two sentences?


  21. RufusSG Aug 10, 2016 / 4:17 pm

    I’m heading to London to attend the match tomorrow. I trust The Oval’s pints are still as ludicrously expensive as they were this time last year?


    • LordCanisLupus Aug 10, 2016 / 4:32 pm

      Braver person than me to drink that shite, Rufus. Enjoy your day.


      • RufusSG Aug 10, 2016 / 4:53 pm

        Cheers Dmitri, it’s probably a bit of a stretch to call them better than nothing but, at the end of the day, they just about are (and sports grounds know it too, hence why they can fleece spectators to the extent that they do on confectionery).


        • LordCanisLupus Aug 10, 2016 / 4:56 pm

          No. They really aren’t better than nothing. Hence my epiphany in 2012.

          When we stopped allowing beer into the ground Sheldon said we’d have “the finest selection of beers” to choose from. Watered down piss or Marstons Smooth were the options. Vile.


      • sidesplittin Aug 10, 2016 / 8:38 pm

        Can’t disagree – going on Sat & will be lunch & tea loading in the Fentiman Arms, lest we endure the p1ss weak stuff they flog in the ground. 😤


  22. SimonH Aug 10, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    He wants to go on and on:


    A new captain would have to come in for this winter or after the Ashes. Otherwise, he’d have to start against SA (and apart from not being an easy series in itself, they always argue it’s better to debut as captain abroad) or in the Ashes itself. Dobell’s prediction at the start of the season (that he never really would explain that I saw), that Cook would be gone by the end of the summer looks improbable now. If there was an idea the new captain could be eased in gently against Bangladesh, either that tour will be called off or it will be a difficult one off the pitch. Short of a train wreck on the Indian tour, Cook’s there until after the Ashes.

    There’s a mention (not in a direct quote) about overtaking Vaughan’s record number of wins. Not a consideration at all, of course (cough).

    Cook also expresses some thoughts on the team compared to 2011. They are almost word-for-word what Anderson was quoted as saying. Funny that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Aug 10, 2016 / 6:45 pm

      Ah, you beat me to it by three minutes – the time I spent trying to articulate how utterly unlikable this England team remains to me, and eventually deleting it.


    • Mark Aug 10, 2016 / 7:19 pm

      Unless George Dobell has some inside knowledge that Cook wants to go, I agree with you Simon he will go on to the Ashes tour. A chance for another ……. “Redemption for Cook” moment. It doesn’t matter what the results are in between. They are of no importance in putting his job at risk.

      He might even go on after that. Depends if he wants to go out at the top. He may decide to asses What the chances are of ENGLAND winning those Ashes? Are Anderson and Broad still fit and firing next summer? Has the batting line up been strengthened? How good are the Aussies?

      I’m not even sure if he had another 5-0 defeat he wouldn’t keep his job. He has the job for as long as he likes.


      • SimonH Aug 11, 2016 / 7:34 am

        I’m looking forward, when it happens as it undoubtedly will, to all the press references to “England’s greatest captain, Alastair Cook….” (followed, if pressed, to the small-print correction of “ho,ho, ho, of course I didn’t mean ‘greatest’ as in necessarily the best, just that he’d won the greatest number of games. Sorry about the lax phrasing. Terribly careless of me” etc.).

        I was interested that Cook mentioned a point made her, that Brearley was some sort of master “tactician”. Can anyone think of an example? I still think he was a masterful man-manager which isn’t the same thing. His most famous captaincy moment that I can think of, telling Willis not to worry about no-balls at Headingley in ’81, was more about managing Willis than tactics. He had some difficult characters to manage in that team ranging from Willis to Boycott to Botham. When he wasn’t there, Boycott and Botham fell out in NZ in ’77/78 (Brearley had broken his arm in Pakistan so Boycott was captain) and then Boycott came home early from the tour of India in ’81/82 when Fletcher was captain. Brearley also followed undoubtedly followed Napoleon’s advice about being a lucky general having a good England team, missing the WI, playing Packer-weakened opposition and Australia being under-strength both home series he played them (no Lillee in ’77, no Greg Chappell in ’81. When he faced a full-strength Australia for the only time in ’79/80, England were thrashed 3-0).

        Liked by 1 person

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