England vs. Pakistan, 1st Test – Preview

So for the many of us, who have had to put up with the never ending IPL and other white ball nonsense for the past couple of months, the blessed relief that is the start of the English Test summer has finally rolled around. Not that we are the only ones who are happy for actual cricket to get centre stage, Colin Calamitous and the Empty suit must be emitting a huge sigh of relief that, after weeks of competing between themselves in ‘who can stick their foot furthest in their mouth than the other’, that the heat might be removed off them, albeit it’s more than likely a temporary rest bite only.

So we are all set to head to Lords, for the first major networking event Test Match of the year between England & Pakistan. This is also the first time that our old Friend Ed Smith has had key input into the make up of the team as our newly appointed Chief Plagiarist, Academic, Selector, though many will just be glad that he is now off TMS for the foreseeable future. The challenge that awaits Ed and the rest of the other selectors is well publicized. This England team is not just limited but has pretty much been in free-fall all winter, bar the glorious game saving 200 from our old saviour on that spicy track in Melbourne! There still continue to be massive holes in the batting, the bowling has been pretty military medium in non-friendly conditions and Ben Stokes seemed to have left his striking form on some chap’s chin rather than on the cricket field. It has also become plainly apparent that whatever you happen to achieve on the cricket field during the county season (someone give Trevor a map and some directions) pales into complete insignificance compared to analytics and the various hunches of the selectors. I can’t decide whether Dom Bess’ elevation to the Test Squad is through a great scouting network or if the selectors didn’t manage to get past the Somerset team-sheet before deciding enough was enough for the day.


So as for ‘not so clever’ Ed’s first squad, it unsurprisingly is pretty much more of the same with less Vince and more added Jos Butler. They have taken the bold (ok it’s not that bold) to decision to tinker with the batting order with Root at 3, Malan at 4 and Bairstow at 5, which on the face of it looks a better balance than the batting order we had over the winter, but still doesn’t account for the fact that we haven’t had a bona fide no. 3 since Trott (I prefer Root at 4) and that half the time, the middle order have been exposed to the new ball at 20-2. The big talking point which I alluded to earlier is the inclusion of Jos Buttler ahead of the likes of Joe Clarke, Nick Gubbins etc who have been scoring runs in the county championship. For the record I am a big Jos Buttler fan, as he has the special ability to tear apart an attack which he has shown on a number of times for both England and on his various T20 jaunts; however my biggest issue is that his talent for red ball cricket is not on the same level as it is for white ball cricket, both on the domestic stage and with his record internationally. It is very different facing a quick, swinging delivery in a Test Match than it is bashing some young medium paced Indian bowler into the stands on a road of pitch. I genuinely would like to see Buttler succeed and there is no doubt that some of the experts and selectors alike see him as potentially our version of Adam Gilchrist; however he needs repay the faith in the analytics boys  selectors, as at 28, with a decidedly average red ball record, there surely can’t be too many more opportunities given to him. Mind you one could also argue that with the dropping of Vince, there needed to be another representative from the Shiny Toy roster, but naturally I wouldn’t be as so churlish to raise this.

As for the bowling, you would expect it be expect it to be St. Jimmy of Burnley and the new and improved ‘Broady’ to open the bowling, with one of Mark Woods or Chris Woakes earning the final seam-bowling slot. It would not surprise me at all if they went with Woakes, who despite looking innocuous all winter, has a decent bowling record in England and it also means that we don’t have to endure the horror of seeing Stuart Broad batting at 8. I would much prefer the England team to pick Woods, but I can’t see Bayliss and Chuckles being happy with a tail that long. You would also expect Bess to be given his debut, unless Stokes is still not properly fit to bowl, as five quick’s at Lords seems rather OTT let alone leaving us without any variety. As for Bess himself, he has rather snuck in under the radar with both Leach and Mason Crane injured and Moeen completely out of touch. I haven’t managed to see Bess play at all, so I’d be very interested for views from the wider group, but no doubt playing at Cidrebad has helped his cause rather than hindered it. If he is given the nod, then I just hope that the England think tank actually help him and support him against a team famed for its’ ability to play spin, unlike certain other spinners under a previous captain, who quickly became persona non-grata. Anyway I wish him the best of luck.

As for Pakistan, it will be interesting which side actually turns up, as the word mercurial has been replaced by a photo the Pakistan team in the Oxford Dictionary. For those that watched the Ireland vs. Pakistan Test Match, when Sky did eventually decide to show it and even then behind the red button (Murdoch understands the edict from the ICC), the performance encapsulated everything that that we associate with the Pakistan team in nearly grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory (which is taking nothing away from a superb performance from Ireland). The batting has talent no doubt, Azhar Ali is a stout and intelligent batsman, Asad Shafiq has a wonderful technique and is beautiful to watch and they have a solid late middle order in Sarfraz, Shadab and Ashraf that can dig them out of a hole, should the top order make a mess of things. That being said, they also have the ability to collapse in a heap at any time, much like their hosts. As for their bowling, I would perhaps suggest that they aren’t as potent as years gone by and will no doubt rely on Amir to make early inroads into England’s top order if they are going to be successful. Amir might not be the bowler he once destined to be before the cheating scandal, but he is still a very good Test Match bowler and will be a major threat provided his knee holds up. As for Abbas and Ali, both could be effective in English conditions, but I have doubts about their ability to cause the same challenges as Amir, especially when the ball gets a little older. Of course they do possess an unknown quantity of a leg spinner in Shadab, and whilst I can’t see there being too much spin on offer in the early part of the Test Match season, the warm weather and England’s less than stellar record against leg spinners in the past, must ensure that England are on their guard against him. This could easily be one of the most fascinating battles of the upcoming Test Series.

So whilst we put aside thoughts of 10 ball overs, no LBW’s and soft balls for the ladies  (nice of the ECB to try and alienate another tranche of supporters) for a while, feel free to add your thoughts below. If you do happen to be going to Lords, feel free to have a £12 burger and an £8 Pimms for me (not on me obviously)….

UPDATE: since this was written Andrew Strauss has temporarily stepped down as Director, England Cricket. Whilst many of us have been critical of his tenure, I’m sure everybody can join me in wishing his wife and rest of the Strauss family the best of luck with her fight against cancer.

Andy Flower has temporarily assumed Strauss’ position, which is another matter entirely..


95 thoughts on “England vs. Pakistan, 1st Test – Preview

  1. northernlight71 May 22, 2018 / 10:15 pm

    Well, with all the sympathy for Andrew Strauss and his wife taken as read, can I be the first of us to welcome Andy Flower as the new Director, Comma, English Cricket?
    I, for one, welcome our new Zimbabwean Overlord.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol May 23, 2018 / 7:00 am

      You an also take my sympathy as read.

      However, my response to his replacement is unprintable.


    • nonoxcol May 23, 2018 / 7:09 am

      Awaiting Saint Squealer’s first tweet on the subject with bated breath….


  2. Mark May 22, 2018 / 10:43 pm

    So Flower is back, and Strauss says that overseas results have been bad for 40 years, FORTY YEARS! Which is an interesting way of exempting the record for the period he has been in charge of.

    Oh, and some of the scouts are James Taylor, Marcus Trescothick, Richard Dawson, Chris Read, and Glenn Chappell. We have about twice as many people picking the team as the eleven slots available.

    Didn’t Root say something along the lines of ……” it will put bums on seats” on the recall of Jos Butler. Sounds like a George Harrison selection rather than a Ed Smith one. Harrison was all in with his exciting brand of test match cricket.

    Will the mums know if it’s five days or four days? Can they count to 90 overs? Which is a lot of balls. Perhaps we will have to have a 100 ball last over.


    • hatmallet May 23, 2018 / 10:18 pm

      Scouts are just providing input. The people picking the squads has, I think, reduced as you’ve gone from Whitaker, Newell, Fraser and Bayliss to just Smith, Bayliss and whoever he choses as the other selector.


    • alecpaton May 24, 2018 / 2:22 pm

      To be fair to Strauss, it’s not like he was ever a key component in a tour of Australia that did something as remarkable as thrashing the home team by an innings in 3 of the 5 tests


  3. Julie May 23, 2018 / 12:53 am

    Forgive me, but Andy Flower??? Memories don’t last long in English cricket. Don’t think results are going to improve with him there.They haven’t since he got rid of KP.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sri.grins May 23, 2018 / 1:41 am

    556 million people watched the ipl this year with an additional reach out to 144 million people this year compared to last year. 556 million probably is about 1/16 of the world population

    White ball cricket especially the IPL may be nonsense but obviously seems to get newer audience in. Thereafter the audience may get to like and follow test cricket too or not.

    Do love only test cricket if that is your preference but don’t keep sniping at other forms of cricket which bring in new fans to watch cricket.


    • thelegglance May 23, 2018 / 10:24 am

      Without remotely arguing that the IPL is popular, always be very, very wary about global viewing figures. They are, without exception, cobblers. The technique is to add up the potential reach from all the broadcasters, and then pop out the figure. It’s like the claim that 2 billion watched the Royal Wedding. Again, undoubtedly high, but 2 billion is complete bollocks.


      • Sri.grins May 23, 2018 / 11:22 am

        Isn’t a discussion of if it is 556 or 406 million (just an arbitrary number) really not relevant to the point being made which is that new audiences are being reached and existing ones seem to return thus keeping cricket in people’s minds and causing more interest.

        After all, if we are claiming that interest in England is declining, as cricket lovers we should be happy that cricket is still relevant in other countries.


        • thelegglance May 23, 2018 / 11:41 am

          The numbers aren’t no. I actually agree with your wider point, but I’m just saying that the figures are always self serving to an organisation, and always inflated as much as possible. They can have it put on an obscure Japanese channel and say they’re reaching another 100 million people for example.


    • Ab May 23, 2018 / 11:57 am

      How make millions of them would rather be watching something else though.

      Viewings figures are a function of distribution, not demand.


      • Sri.Grins May 23, 2018 / 1:40 pm

        Agree with you on difference between distribution and demand. But, that is true of all programs people see including football, test match cricket, movies, tv serials etc.

        In general distribution is influenced by and ultimately governed by demand.

        As to how many millions of them watching IPL would rather be watching something else (odi, test cricket, tennis, football, movies etc), it is a difficult question to answer.

        However, assuming that most of the viewership is from the subcontinent, I would guess that 90-95% of the viewership would rather see the IPL than something else during april-may.


    • Sean May 23, 2018 / 7:53 pm

      Hi Sri, my view of the IPL shouldn’t shock you as I’ve been pretty clear on my views of it in the past. I don’t like it, nor the other 15 or so T20 tournaments.

      If white ball cricket gets a new audience in then great, but I’ll never love the format (I never liked it as a kid either). I would argue that whilst the IPL has no doubt fuelled interest in the game in India, I don’t see that it has done much to invigorate new audiences to the game in the UK.

      I’m afraid you and I will never agree on this one, but always happy to be proved wrong!


      • Sri.grins May 24, 2018 / 12:46 am

        Well, it is unlikely that IPL would fuel interest in the game in the UK significantly considering that the English players have just started playing in some numbers and the general attitude of cricket fans in UK to white ball cricket.

        But, I would assume that if you think the IPL has fueled interest in cricket in India, as a cricket lover you would be happy.

        My personal view is that it was not really fta that hurt doread of cricket but the antagonism shown by the establishment, journalists and traditional English fans about white ball cricket that prevented the game spreading.

        When establishment, journos, fans continue to look on white ball cricket as something that soils the game, it is unlikely that too many new fans will enter the game. After all, here are the existing fans proclaiming that it means nothing and is not good enough.

        Why would a new fan wish to watch a sport he/she does not know much about when clearly he/she has not been interested in cricket earlier and gets negative feedback on the format that is easy to attend/follow and could get him/her involved.

        My personal view is also that the sooner English fans stop complaining about the white ball game, the faster interest in cricket will grow in the UK.

        How many of the new fans will watch test cricket is another aspect of the discussion. A few may follow specific idols they have or track scores or watch briefly. The way I would look at it is any new fan from white ball cricket is an add on and to be welcomed gratefully. After all we cannot afford to be choosy.

        Sorry but I think that the general approach of the blogger / fan in UK to white ball cricket is completely wrong and makes no sense.


        • Ab May 24, 2018 / 7:25 am

          England cricket fans were similarly uninterested in white ball cricket back in the early 2000s,it didn’t stop 23 million people watching the ashes.


          • Sri.Grins May 24, 2018 / 8:03 am

            The point to figure out is how many of these 23 million people who watched the ashes were people who were new to cricket and not already cricket fans who already watched tests in England or county cricket.

            if the desire of existing English cricket fans is to attract to cricket new fans who mostly think of white ball cricket as nonsense and thus be more or less homogeneous in thought processes, that is certainly one way of looking at expanding the game in UK.

            I don’t think it is an approach likely to go down well with new fans especially if the ECB is trying to attract the South Asian community as I would guess quite a few of those kids would consider white ball cricket as highly relevant.


  5. Sri.grins May 23, 2018 / 1:47 am

    I like jos so to be fair to him, Indian fast bowlers are not effective but they are not just medium pacers any longer. Most bowl at 140-145+. Hopefully, in another twenty years 😁, they may also become effective.


    • quebecer May 23, 2018 / 1:50 am

      Bit optimistic, Sri.


      • Sri.grins May 23, 2018 / 2:33 am

        Yes, it may take 40 but I am determined to be optimistic.


    • dlpthomas May 23, 2018 / 2:43 am

      The Indian quicks were quite “effective” in the series against South Africa. If they can bowl like that in England then they have a good chance of winning the series.


      • Sri.Grins May 23, 2018 / 4:21 am

        was talking of indian quicks in the context of the IPL. The indian test quicks are better but nowhere near the quality of jimmy and broad


        • Sri.Grins May 23, 2018 / 4:22 am

          in england ie


          • dlpthomas May 23, 2018 / 5:46 am

            Jimmy and Broad are very good at home but I think your guys are going to love English conditions. I think they may surprise a few people.


          • Scrim May 23, 2018 / 1:22 pm

            Bhuvi might enjoy himself in England even more than last time, I think. So long as he isn’t randomly dropped by Kohl… I mean Shastri again.


      • Sri.Grins May 23, 2018 / 4:30 am

        Also the batting has gone downhill based on what i saw in SA. Bar Kohli none of the others did anything concrete.

        Vijay, che, rahane all struggling and lower order not capable of bailing them out unlike in england’s case as the wicketkeeper and bowlers are not great batsmen and ashwin is losing his batting ability a bit.

        I would therefore consider england favorites but of course I will continue to hope that India win 5-0 despite all these handicaps 😀


        • Grenville May 23, 2018 / 8:39 am

          I am shocked by this lack of faith. I am also looking forward to the series far more than recent Indian tours. They are a mature team. Kohli is a genius. It could definitely be a dreary money making mediocrity, but I don’t think that it will go that way. I have the impression that it is important to Kohli and to India to be a truly great test team. This long run of challenging away fixtures looks like it was contrived to give the group a chance to put the carping white establishment to bed. Not only do we thrash you in Asia, we can handle seam, swing, pace and bounce. A bit of dry weather and we will have a good series, I think.

          On the Indian quicks, isn’t one facing an attempted murder charge?


          • Sri.Grins May 23, 2018 / 10:21 am

            No, the cycle of away tours has been the same since 2014-15 . away tours against tough opponents followed by home series or the other way around whichever you prefer. (SA, Eng, Aus away last time too)

            Yes, Kohli wishes to prove a point but in test cricket (unlike t-20) it needs quite a bit of the team to fire at crucial moments.

            My view is that the bowling has come on in leaps and bounds. Bhuvi, Shami, Ishant, Umesh, Bumrah are wonderful and provide reasonable bench strength not to forget we have other substitutes too who have done well. The spinners are decent enough though not as dangerous.

            The batting on the other hand has gone downhill.

            Che can’t buy a run away. Vijay is struggling. Rahane not in form. The lower order is not capable of rescue acts.

            This is why I am considering England logically as favorites but I am hoping for a india win of all tests.

            Shami is the one with a charge though it is not of murder but a messy divorce where allegations have been thrown about. He is an erratic bowler capable of being devastating or mediocre performance but unlikely he will play. has not done well even in the IPL probably due to fitness and personal issues dogging him.


    • Sean May 23, 2018 / 9:54 pm

      Not talking about your Test bowling quicks at all. Yadav, Bhuvi, Bumrah and Shami (if cleared) are a handful for any Test attack. I was more referring to the white ball cannon fodder…


      • Sri.grins May 24, 2018 / 12:24 am

        I know that it was about the white ball quicks I was also talking about the ipl quicks too. A lot of them are no longer medium pacers but genuinely quick but still with lack of thinking and consistency


  6. dlpthomas May 23, 2018 / 5:55 am

    After listening to the latest episode of Darren Gough’s Cricket Week, I am still struggling to get my head round 100 ball cricket. Are those in favour of this new competition arguing that the best way to get people who don’t like cricket to watch cricket is to give them less cricket to watch?


    • Grenville May 23, 2018 / 8:29 am



    • Mark May 23, 2018 / 9:04 am

      If you have to change cricket so fundamentally to save cricket then what’s the point? A game of 16.4 with no LBW laws and different amount of balls per over is not cricket. And what’s next? Players wearing Spider-Man costumes singing I did it my way? They were boasting about getting rid of complicated rules, and a hard ball the other day for woman’s softball cricket. WTF?

      They are not improving cricket, they are creating a new game/sport. Which is fine, but they shouldn’t be doing that while claiming they are administrators running cricket.

      May I suggest that they are protecting their own positions rather than governing cricket. If they turn cricket into a version of “Its a knockout” so they can still pay themselves their ludicrous salary’s to administer their new sport it’s not administrating cricket.!

      If cricket is going to be only financially available or viable as a 20/20 version, and an even shorter, stupider version then I no longer will bother with it.

      If the only way to save chocolate cake is to turn it into lental cake then I will have a doughnut instead thanks!


    • Sophie May 23, 2018 / 9:44 am

      I had the misfortune of catching a bit of an interview with Rod Bransgrove the other day, and he said people come up to him all the time and tell him they’d love to watch cricket, but they can’t because it’s boring or something. And we need to find out what people want to see and show them that. He was also laughing all the time, in a seemingly arrogant and dismissive way. Maybe I’m prejudiced.


      • thelegglance May 23, 2018 / 10:21 am

        That’s a strange argument for him to make. It’s like me saying I’d love to go to the Chelsea Flower Show, but I don’t because I couldn’t care less…


        • Mark May 23, 2018 / 12:04 pm

          He seems to be saying …….”what can I sell, anything…. that people will pay for?”

          That doesn’t sound like he is a custodian of cricket. More like Del Boy Trotter.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sophie May 23, 2018 / 12:25 pm

            I have to admit I didn’t listen to the entire thing attentively, but yeah, that’s exactly the impression I got.


      • Riverman21 May 24, 2018 / 12:42 pm

        I’d love to see him interviewed by Philomena Cunk.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. sillypointcricket May 23, 2018 / 6:22 am

    Hopefully off the back of a 50 in the last Test and a career best in First Class cricket, Wood merits the nod ahead of Woakes (Not much playing time recently) and can start taking regular Test wickets.

    I’m not sure whether a specialist batsman at seven is embarrassing or inventive. I guess we’ll find out!


    • Mark May 23, 2018 / 8:40 am

      But if Wood plays or indeed any other fast bowler will they be given the new ball ahead of Broad and Anderson?

      Seems to me England have a closed shop opening bowling partnership. Doesn’t seem to matter if the pitch is flat and there is no sideways movement or we have a bowler who is a yard or two quicker.

      It’s all very well on green seaming pitches to have the dynamic duo, but on better batting surfaces we still stick to the tried and tested. I always felt that they messed about with Stephen Finn. He should have been allowed to just bowl fast with the new ball, and cause havoc on the top order opposition players.

      But we liked bowling dry!! And the bowling dry man is back, back,back!


      • oreston May 23, 2018 / 1:29 pm

        I didn’t realise Mr Bowling Dry had ever really gone away. England could discover the new Truman/Statham/Snow/Willis and St. Jimmy would still be opening the bowling in all the conditions with his zimmer frame. He played an excellent role in Australia, bowling long spells as a parsimonious containing bowler (and took wickets too). I honestly don’t see why it should be a point of honour, particularly this late in his career, that he has to have the new ball if he’s not likely to be the most effective with it. Who’s insisting on it? Is it him? Or is it (even worse) driven by commercial considerations because he’s “England’s GOAT” ?


  8. d'Arthez May 23, 2018 / 11:32 am

    AB de Villiers, chief cheerleader last summer, retires from international cricket.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. LordCanisLupus May 23, 2018 / 12:27 pm

    Hellaciously busy at work, and with no beloved at home for a month, bloody pressed at home too.

    One comment – aren’t we playing Pakistan? These comments seem to be about another series. 🙂


    • Sophie May 23, 2018 / 12:43 pm

      Um, yeah, …good to hear Buttler is going to play his own natural brand of cricket.


      • LordCanisLupus May 23, 2018 / 12:48 pm

        Yep. The one where he didn’t know whether to stick or twist against swing bowling so got himself in all sorts of mental knots? That natural brand?

        I’m a massive Buttler fan, but there were every bit the mental “frailties” people like James Vince have displayed in test cricket, in among some of the good stuff. I wonder why he’s so beloved by the media.


        • Sophie May 23, 2018 / 1:09 pm

          I was more sneering at ‘natural brand’, which seems a tad contradictory to me. I don’t see why either Buttler or Vince should be successful in test cricket, but that’s entirely based on extrapolation from their first class records (keeping in mind that Vince’s most successful seasons were in division 2).


  10. quebecer May 23, 2018 / 9:39 pm

    Often I don’t comment here on some articles, but that’s only because you all say it all so well, I don’t need to repeat.

    As for my enthusiasm for these tests, I’m underwhelmed by both teams. Buttler? What the hell, why not? Like we had any other options. Well, we did a few years ago when we could have given him the gloves and told Bairstow to bat at 5. And Bess is obviously the sort of cricketer they like, but he’s not a bowler to set the toes a tapping.

    However, I’m optimistic that on the day I’ll be into it. I really hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean May 23, 2018 / 9:46 pm

      Know the feeling all too well Q…


    • dlpthomas May 23, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      Darren Gough gave several reasons why he thought Bess was a good selection. They included “trains well” and “he can bat” but, rather strangely, he said nothing about Bess’s ability to bowl off spin. He also suggested that the Buttler’s previous failures at test level weren’t relevant because this time he wasn’t selected as a batter. All of this begs the question, just how many times did Darren get hit in the head whilst batting?

      (I actually like Gough and, to be fair to him, I think his point about Buttler was that he has been picked to go out and attack from ball one rather than try and dig in and build an innings. I have mixed feelings about his selection because I think it sends a message that county performances don’t matter. On the other hand I don’t mind it when the selectors pick some-one on a hunch. Anyone can pick a team based solely on the players stats.)


      • quebecer May 24, 2018 / 12:43 am

        Hi DLP. Bess does’t really get many revs on the ball, as far as I can tell, and his delivery seems to come from the shoulder. Contrast that to Virdi who does spring the ball, and you can see his hip rotation going in to the delivery is far more pronounced. To be honest, I’m not holding out much hope for Bess. There aren’t many sub continental batsmen who won’t milk a non-spinning spinner.

        Your point about county performances not mattering is an interesting one. The thing is, it’s never been the main way for us to find out best test batsmen. KP, Cook, Tesco, Vaughen, even going back to Gower and Gooch, it wasn’t weight of county championship runs that got them selected.

        The other issue is that we’ve gone through the progression of county batsmen with only Malan looking even a possibility to stick (and he’s 30). After Westley and Vince do we then want to keep the same failing formula for selection and go for, say, Clarke and Northeast? And the simple fact is that no one apart from Matt Renshaw has really looked international class this season.

        I feel that the problem is not that county performances don’t matter, but more that the performances in the counties isn’t good enough. It’s tempting to go and drop that bomb over at the Guardian CCLive at some point, but that would be unkind. Though funny. It’s a tough one.


      • Mark May 24, 2018 / 9:02 am

        I question whether he will be able to attack from ball one because he will find himself batting with the tail. If England’s batsman have failed as has been their want, and Butler is coming in at say 120/5 is he likely to be able to “attack from the start?”

        And if he does, and gets out leaving the tail exposed as Moeen did sometimes the critics will be out in force.

        I’m not against him, and I’m not against so called “hunch, gut feeling” selections as we have seen in the past. But when the new head of selectors says he wants a more statistical, money ball style of selection system, and then picks someone who hasn’t played any red ball cricket for months you question the whole process.


    • Grenville May 24, 2018 / 8:05 am

      Whilst I agree that neither side has much to inspire serious absenteeism, I am very excited. This isbecause England-Pakistan always has a political significance for me. Somehow I have the impression that the English cricket establishment cannot fathom the possibility that Pakistan ( or any of the sub continental teams) could be better than England. England can go and get thrashed in Asia and it doesn’t count, because anyone, apart from all those who can’t, can milk spinners and tie down a good bat on a turning track. We know that England are better because when we get those Asian boys on a pitch with some lateral movement, they collapse in a heap and every time they win, which they have been doing since nthe days of Quardar, it is an aberration and they were cheating.

      Being an optimist, I am convinced that Pakistan will give England a fight and, partly out of schadenfreude but mostly out of a sense of delight in fraud being exposed, I will cheer loudly as Amir clatters a fast indipper through Alastair Cook’s gate and Iman Ul Haq swats Broad away hard over square leg. (A boy can dream).


  11. d'Arthez May 24, 2018 / 9:06 am

    No county cricket for Kohli, due to a neck injury sustained in an IPL game.


  12. jomesy May 24, 2018 / 10:33 am

    Am I just hyper-sensitive or is the very first OBO on the G symptomatic of the continued propoganda surrounding Cook? When you apply TINA as a policy you’re going to get a lot of games in a row. I accept that he’s done well to maintain his fitness but he doesn’t bowl, doesn’t (thank god) play any of the other formats of the game and has, for a very long time, fielded in the slip corden where his biggest risk to injury would appear to be getting his finger stuck up hos own nostrils.

    Other than that, looking forward to this series !

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol May 24, 2018 / 10:53 am

      To be fair they are comments from readers. Ludicrously one-sided though, especially the double hundred one which leads into a shameless plug for R*** M***s.

      Reverse cumulative average doesn’t lie, and the last two years are pretty brutal for St Al.


    • nonoxcol May 24, 2018 / 11:10 am

      We clearly inhabit a different universe to the inventor of R*** M***s, one where a commonplace and valid criticism of batsmen used to be that they only made one score in a series, which ended up constituting over half of their total runs. This was particularly valid if the batsman in question was one of your so-called “guns” or bankers.

      Still, nice to start the summer on a note that fills me with unbridled enthusiasm for the months ahead…

      Fortunately I’m buying a house, so I have a ready-made excuse to be thoroughly disengaged.


      • LordCanisLupus May 24, 2018 / 12:48 pm

        Ditto. Why I felt like packing it in back in December.

        These comments weren’t so prominent in New Zealand.

        Even Newman was doubting him.


        • nonoxcol May 24, 2018 / 1:00 pm

          Can I say that’s his first fifty in seven innings and second in 18? Everyone knows what the other one led to, and everyone knows what his nineteenth most recent innings was. Doesn’t stop it being true.

          Why is this heresy when Root’s conversion rate is cited by everyone?

          It’s also only his sixth score of over 50 in his last 35 innings, since Rajkot (two of them were hundreds). That just happens to be exactly one eighth of his Test career in terms of innings. Instead of 32 hundreds and 56 fifties at 45.92, he’d have amassed 16 hundreds and 32 fifties over his entire career at that rate, at an average of 37.54.

          But do not question his recent record.


          • nonoxcol May 24, 2018 / 1:16 pm

            Interesting fact: AN Other averaged 40.05 in his last 35 innings, with three hundreds and nine fifties.


          • d'Arthez May 24, 2018 / 2:31 pm

            Funny how conversion rates will not be mentioned today ..


      • jomesy May 24, 2018 / 6:03 pm

        So it would seem! Good luck with the purchase


  13. d'Arthez May 24, 2018 / 11:14 am

    Cook survives an lbw on umpire’s call. Only for Malan to perish shortly after. 43/3 is not the greatest first 70 minutes England have had to start a home summer with. An attacking #7 with dubious defensive technique might not be what England need this innings …


  14. Grenville May 24, 2018 / 12:29 pm

    Test Cricket…. Yay….. I’m annoyed that Cook is still there, but in my one eyed way I still have to give him some grudging respect. He’s had a bit of luck, but it is a cloudy morning on a green top. Bastard.


  15. Sri.grins May 24, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    Good job from cook.


  16. Mark May 24, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    I’m completely ambivalent to Cook now. I regard him as a semi detached member of the team where normal rules don’t apply. He was allowed to choose when he gave up the captaincy, and he will be allowed to choose the timing of his retirement. No one else is given such luxury.

    It doesn’t matter whether he makes 0 or 56 or 256. He will be judged exactly the same.

    I’m sure the members of the peanut gallery will be quick to inform us he has made these runs in a live rubber. (First test match if the series) Why that would bother them…… when they were so adamant that ALL test matches are equal I can’t imagine?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jomesy May 24, 2018 / 6:03 pm

      Everyone – bar none – at the Ageas gave him a standing ovation today!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. quebecer May 24, 2018 / 2:54 pm

    I did wonder how I’d feel about this test but now it’s begun, I love it. THANK YOU PAKISTAN!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Mark May 24, 2018 / 3:09 pm

    Has any play be lost today? Because as we start the final session there are still 38 overs to bowl. I’m still to see any evidence they can bowl 100 overs in a day for the new slimmed down, less complicated (for the kids) four day test matches.

    Perhaps we need 75 overs per day which gives us a nice and easy 450 balls to count down from?


  19. Sean May 24, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    Anyone else not remotely surprised that it’s all gone Pete Tong….

    Liked by 1 person

    • quebecer May 24, 2018 / 3:18 pm

      Not me, and it’s partly (perhaps completely) my fault. At tea I let myself think, well, Stokes and Buttler at the wicket for the last session… this could be great. I didn’t say it out loud, but just thinking it was enough. My bad. Sorry.


      • Sean May 24, 2018 / 3:38 pm

        Anyone else looking forward to St. Jimmy and Broady banging it in halfway down for the next hour…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sophie May 24, 2018 / 4:35 pm

          Why do they do that anyway? Everyone always complains about it, even they themselves.


    • Riverman21 May 24, 2018 / 4:47 pm

      Me neither.
      Found myself humming a Who song all day “Won’t get fooled again”


      • thelegglance May 24, 2018 / 5:12 pm

        Trust me, trying NOT to use lyrics from Won’t Get Fooled Again in article titles is the challenge…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Riverman21 May 24, 2018 / 7:58 pm

          Mission accomplished tonight I see 🙂
          Which is more than can be said for….


        • LordCanisLupus May 25, 2018 / 7:58 am

          that used to be our band’s closing number. Damn good at it we were too. And I loathed the Who.


  20. d'Arthez May 24, 2018 / 3:16 pm

    That was exactly the knock England needed from their specialist #7, and with a long tail, this could even mean being shot out for less than 200, after winning the toss …


    • oreston May 24, 2018 / 3:23 pm

      Perhaps this is the “exciting brand of cricket” we should all apparently be fawning over.


  21. oreston May 24, 2018 / 3:21 pm

    Cook managed to do his job for once, adequately but unexceptionally, while others floundered more than he did. It shouldn’t be a big thing, a Test opener making 70. He must’ve played reasonably well, and that’s very welcome of course, but hardly something to crow about.


    • Grenville May 24, 2018 / 3:44 pm

      As a self identifying Cook hater, the thing that disturbed me about his innings is that he wasn’t playing out of his skin. He did okay. I don’t want a Cook that can be off his game and make a score. I want him gone. If I wasn’t a hater, I’d be pleased for Cook and England. It bodes well for them.

      Now Pakistan have to shed the ‘callow’ label with their batting.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Sri.Grins May 24, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    Guys, pakistan have a much better pace bowling attack and probably even better spinners vis a vis India. You should not be surprised at their doing well in May when conditions suit.

    Cook has done a wonderful job and you should be happy with his contribution. There maybe past history with Cook the man of steel but it was a pretty decent effort and took a good delivery to prise him out.

    Buttler, it is just a single failure. Give him some leeway.


    • oreston May 24, 2018 / 3:47 pm

      I think my comment about Cook recognises his solid contribution today, but was more in anticipation of the invitable hagiographic treatment it will receive in sections of the British sports media.
      And no, Sri, this is not a “single failure” for Buttler 🙂 Neither is it his fault that he was put in the situation he was in – a white ball specialist needing to bat with dour watchfulness and shepherd the tailenders to eek out a respectable total. Didn’t happen. As I say, not his fault.
      Yes, the Pakistani bowlers have clearly been effective on this surface – but let’s see how St Jimmy & Co. get on.

      Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas May 24, 2018 / 3:48 pm

      It was a nice knock as far as it went. However, the precedent was established in the Ashes – top score gets blamed for the collapse.


        • Mark May 24, 2018 / 4:07 pm

          He’s being sarcastic Oreston. No one is criticising him.

          In the Ashes when Cook was scoring zero in the first three test matches the peanut gallery informed us it was the players who made pretty 60s and 70s that should be blamed for England’s failure to make big scores.

          So by those rules a nice 70 in a score of of 184 is his fault.

          Liked by 2 people

          • oreston May 24, 2018 / 4:47 pm

            Yep, I get that Mark. I just failed spectacularly to pick up on DLP’s sarcasm!


  23. nonoxcol May 24, 2018 / 5:35 pm

    Extra half hour, 6 overs still lost forever. Top effort.


  24. northernlight71 May 24, 2018 / 6:02 pm

    “I thought it was a really interesting toss decision” says team-man A.Cook, who in no way is making a sideways criticism of the “Management team” decision in the morning with which he clearly disagreed…..
    He’s a diamond I tells ya. A diamond.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jomesy May 24, 2018 / 6:06 pm

      I’m glad he’s no longer the tosser

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mark May 24, 2018 / 6:29 pm

      And people in the media keep saying he is a really, really, really great bloke.


  25. Miami Dad's 6 May 24, 2018 / 6:30 pm

    How does premier strike bowler St Jimmy of A – record breaker supreme, on a green top in May, brand new nut, etc – end up bowling less overs in a session of 22 overs than Mark Wood?

    Injured? Or was Root fed up of his back of a length dribble?

    I think Woakes would have enjoyed this track, amusingly. I’m not sure England got anything right today.


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