England vs. Pakistan, 1st Test – Day 3 – You Spin Me Right Round, Baby Right Round

So at the end of Day 3, England are still in with a squeak, probably no more than that as a 4th innings score of over 150 has only ever been chased down at Old Trafford twice before, but a squeak nonetheless.

The nature of the line-up that England picked meant that in all reality both Pope and Buttler needed to go on this morning with at least one of them making them a ton; however the Pakistan bowling line meant that this was always going to be a tough ask. Too tough an ask as it proved to be. The morning session was one of those nip and tuck sessions where each of the Pakistani fast bowlers asked some serious questions of the English batsmen, who played and missed at more than a few deliveries. Eventually it took the precocious 17 year old quick, Naseem Shah, to get rid of Pope with a delivery that reared off the pitch and struck the top of Pope’s bat providing a comfortable catch for the slip fielder. I don’t know how and where Pakistan keep finding these young bowling superstars, but it’s a real breath of fresh air to watch someone so young, bowl with such hostility and maturity at this level. Let’s just hope Pakistan provide him with the right support and structure to let him grow and not ruin him like did with Mohammad Amir.

Still England made it to lunch relatively unscathed and with Buttler and Woakes still at the crease there were some hopes that England could somewhere near Pakistan’s total. Unfortunately our ineptitude against leg spin again proved England’s downfall. Buttler, Woakes and Bess quickly fell to Yasir Shah and whilst there was a fun cameo between firstly Broad and Archer and then Broad and Anderson, it was only going to be a matter of time before England were bowled out. The way Buttler got out in particular is a reflection of his time as an International cricketer, failing to pick a straight delivery after a scratchy, but gritty 38. I have been fairly vocal on my thoughts on Jos as a Test player and nothing I saw today has changed that opinion, but I do feel a bit sorry for the guy; I mean he isn’t the one that keeps picking himself. Buttler is a world class white ball batsman, but in truth, even in county cricket, he has never shown much aptitude against the red ball, something that 6 career red ball centuries clearly shows and for me he simply doesn’t look like a Test player. This isn’t to say he isn’t trying as today’s innings showed, where he put away his natural game and tried to grind out a score, but I genuinely feel it’s got to the stage where it’s not doing the player or the team any favours. It naturally didn’t help that Mohammad Rizwan gave him a lesson in how to keep wicket to both the spinners and the seamers, especially considering he gifted Pakistan over 100 runs in the field with his poor keeping in the first innings. Buttler might be a great team man and Ed Smith is definitely a stubborn supporter, but something has to give and now is the right time to take him out of the firing line.

It would also be churlish of me not to give Yasir Shah some rightful praise. He can look innocuous at times and does bowl some absolute dross, but he always seems to have an impact in the game and regularly takes wickets. It just shows the different mentality both sides have with regards to their spin bowling options with Pakistan happy for their spinner to concede runs if he can bowl wicket taking deliveries often and England happy for their spinner to keep it tight and take the odd wicket. Unfortunately that’s always been our mindset and I can’t see it changing anytime soon.

So with a deficit of 107, England needed wickets and quickly and for once they actually got them. Broad strangled Masood down the leg side for a duck, a sobering reminder of the fickle nature of the Cricketing God’s after his first innings and then Bess had Abid caught on the boundary with the sort of hoick that even Shannon Gabriel would have been embarrassed with. Woakes then continued his fine form by removing both Babar and Azhar quickly leaving Pakistan wobbling at 63-4 before a decent partnership between Shafiq and Rizwan steadied the ship. Indeed they looked to be taking the game away from England before a typical suicidal run synonymous with the Pakistani team removed the former before they could do any more damage. Indeed England should rightly be disappointed that they didn’t have Pakistan in a worse position after yet more sloppiness in the field with both Abid and Shafiq the beneficiaries of dropped catches, though one could easily argue that the Anderson drop was a mighty tough chance. Still England will look back at those drops with more than a tinge of regret after Rizwan and Shadab benefitted from some poor bowling from both Bess and Anderson before England desperately turned to a half fit Ben Stokes who did what Ben Stokes does and trapped Rizwan LBW in his 2nd over. Broad then removed Shadab and a visibly limping Stokes removed Shaheen but a few lusty blows from Shah allowed Pakistan to take the lead to an improbable but not impossible total of 244 with 2 wickets remaining.

Pakistan are without doubt in the box seat and England need to take the last remaining 2 wickets in double quick time if they are to stand any chance of winning this match on a pitch that is taking serious turn. This should be Pakistan’s game to win but it’s not quite a done deal yet. We should have those answers on which way the game is going pretty early on Day 4.

As ever thoughts and comments are much appreciated.


27 thoughts on “England vs. Pakistan, 1st Test – Day 3 – You Spin Me Right Round, Baby Right Round

  1. dannycricket Aug 8, 2020 / 6:13 am

    It’s a little harsh on Bess to imply he is simply an economical spin bowler. It’s not that he hasn’t created chances, just England’s wicketkeeper hasn’t been able to convert them into wickets.


    • metatone Aug 8, 2020 / 10:09 am

      I’d be less harsh on Bess if he’d bowled better against Rizwan and Shadab. Cut him some slack because he’s still new, but if he’s going to be wayward he needs to present much more threat, after all this pitch is very helpful. Why yes, I am sore about how Rashid was treated, why do you ask?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 12:02 pm

        Don’t forget that his card had been marked by those that know….


      • Rohan Aug 8, 2020 / 2:27 pm

        Metatone I’m with you on Adil Rashid. I really like him. I thought he was poorly treated as well……

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nicholas Aug 8, 2020 / 3:09 pm

        Whilst I don’t disagree with you about Rashid (and I was a big advocate for his recall in 2018), my understanding is that the situation with him was complicated by injury and then by the bubble situation this summer.

        I heard from somebody who knows somebody who knows David Willey (yes, really!) that Rashid’s shoulder really was in a very bad way during the World Cup last summer, and he was therefore certainly not fit for the Ashes. It was also implied that this shoulder injury would restrict any red ball cricket for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

        Of course, the injury situation meant that Ed Smith and the ECB didn’t really need to contend with the ‘needs a red ball first class contract’ situation that still wasn’t sorted, but I think it’s probably a bit circular in that if Rashid isn’t fit to play first class cricket then he wouldn’t get a contract, etc. And then they had the selection narrative of ‘Leach and Bess are our test match spinners now’ for the winter tours and beyond. I don’t know whether Rashid could now conceivably be fit to play red ball cricket, but it seemingly isn’t a question that has been asked.

        Of course, with the situation of separate bubbles for red and white ball cricket this summer, it was obvious to place Leach and Bess into the test bubble and Rashid into the white ball one.

        As I say, I’m not defending the ECB here, and the media probably haven’t obviously asked the question as to whether Rashid has been left out because of fitness or selection policy, but I would be surprised if his shoulder didn’t play a huge part in this thinking and the choices of both Rashid and the ECB/selectors.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Marek Aug 8, 2020 / 3:17 pm

        Doesn’t generally contradict what you say Nicholas, but Rashid’s current Yorkshire contract is white-ball only, so he doesn’t qualify for an England test call-up under the ECB’s current rules. My impression is that he’s essentially retired from f-c cricket but hasn’t said so officially–as you say, quite possibly for injury reasons.


        • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 3:19 pm

          I think the fact that it is clear Root doesn’t trust him with the ball is a major consideration too. Root, like Cook before him, just don’t know how to handle spinners.


          • Marek Aug 8, 2020 / 3:34 pm

            …or, seeing his captaincy of Archer, seamers…

            Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas Aug 8, 2020 / 3:24 pm

          Yes, I’d agree with what you and Sean say – and let’s not forget there’s a healthy dose of Yorkshire politics involved between Root and Rashid, too!

          I just think that the ‘Rashid has got to play’ argument was lost when he wasn’t fit to play in the Ashes. And I do suspect that his injury means that he isn’t fit to play red ball cricket anymore, hence no real desire by him or the ECB to find a red-ball contract to then be available for test selection.

          It’s all a tremendous shame that he was treated so poorly for so long, such that his reprieve was so brief and curtailed by fitness issues.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 3:26 pm

            Absolutely Nicholas. Hit the nail on the head. A crying shame indeed.

            Liked by 1 person

          • metatone Aug 8, 2020 / 7:28 pm

            To clarify I wasn’t campaigning for Rashid to be back, I think his time for Tests is passed, because of the injuries. Just marvelling at how some spinners get so much selectorial leeway, without having half his wicket taking threat.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 7:30 pm

            Oh I agree. I just find it an abomination that his card was marked so quickly. One of the most talented spinners England have had and totally let down by the management group.


  2. Miami Dad's Six Aug 8, 2020 / 9:41 am

    Missed the entire day due to a couple of minor family issues. Another 40 runs and it’s surely all over. On the other hand if this Pakistani tail can add another 40 runs, perhaps the pitch isn’t as bad as it appears.

    Yasir is key, he can either be a 50-4 bowler or a 100-0 nightmare. I don’t think Shadab is up to much as a bowler, although that’s with the caveat that I’ve not seen him for a couple of years.


  3. dlpthomas Aug 8, 2020 / 9:45 am

    I thought it was interesting that Root threw the ball to (a less than fully fit) Stokes rather than to Archer. George Dobell has described Archer as “they thought they had found the new Malcolm Marshall. Instead it looks as if they have another Craig Overton.”

    I’m not sure how long it takes to regain fitness / confidence after a serious elbow injury but his figures this summer are a little disappointing. I wouldn’t write him off and I wonder if we would see a very different Archer playing in the white ball side under Morgan.


    • metatone Aug 8, 2020 / 10:01 am

      I don’t think Archer has be well used. Root seems particularly bad at integrating new bowlers into his mindset. Keeps going back to Anderson, even when he’s not bowling well.


      • metatone Aug 8, 2020 / 10:03 am

        I’ll add that the wayward spell Anderson bowled against Rizwan and Shadab certainly made me wonder if it’s time to retire him. It was poor and tired and you can’t carry a bowler only for new ball swing.


  4. metatone Aug 8, 2020 / 10:06 am

    I’ll go with Warne and say that Jos was a bit unlucky, Shah didn’t intend for that ball to go straight on. Of course, given he was defending, he should have been playing in a way to give himself time to adjust – but he’s hardly the only player from England and indeed county cricket who isn’t strong against spin.

    That said of course, it’s a complete waste of his talents being in this side. The times England need the keeper to produce a fireworks 50 are few and far between. Instead most of the time it’s a salvage operation. And Buttler is not a top keeper and it shows.

    That said, my god the top order failed here terribly. I think some hard questions need to be asked about this if they don’t do better in the second innings. Yes the bowling was very good, but that’s what Test cricket against good teams looks like.


  5. Marek Aug 8, 2020 / 1:43 pm

    Meanwhile away from international cricket, Surrey get the “more is not better” award: having to sign a seamer on loan despite already having 13 (count ’em) on their books–of whom a grand total of four are unavailable for any reason other than injury. Shame they couldn’t get a loan deal sorted out for their soon-to-be-signed fourteenth seamer….

    Talking of which: are the ECB refusing to allow some of the players who played in the Ireland series to play in the Trophy? If, so that seems pretty idiotic. It’s also a mess: Bairstow, Banton and Billings–who all played all three games–are playing while Gregory–who didn’t play any–seems to be unavailable…while Livingstone (who also didn’t play any) is.


    • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 1:45 pm

      TBG Gregory is injured which is why he isn’t playing for Somerset, but agree it’s a total nonsense that some can play and others can’t.


      • Marek Aug 8, 2020 / 6:45 pm

        Doesn’t look like they missed him mind…:-)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Marek Aug 8, 2020 / 2:52 pm

      It seems to me that they’re also going to have to think about availability quite seriously in relation to the squads for the next two tests. The potential problem is that players who are in the reserves but not the playing XI could easily end up only playing one Trophy match (plus the Enlgand warm-up in July) if their counties don’t get to the final. This applies at the moment to Foakes, Bracey, Leach and Lawrence–and largely to Curran, who could also easily only play two red-ball games this season.

      Lawrence (who must have a reasonable chance of being selected for the Australia series) could easily not play a single f-c game this season–while Leach, not being in Somerset’s white-ball team, could see his entire season being one f-c game and one non-f-c warm-up, on top of a largely written-off winter.

      I’d be inclined to call-up Jennings, Denly (assuming he’s fit again) and Virdi as concussion subs for the next two weeks–the other players only had three days after their break back in the bubble before the match, so I assume they could come in after the Trophy games finish–and let Bracey, Leach and Lawrence play some red-ball.

      I’d have a different strategy for Foakes playing a f-c game…:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dArthez Aug 8, 2020 / 4:55 pm

    Looks like a comfortable England win. After the South Africa – Sri Lanka fiasco, I don’t think there are many captains who know how to deal with a partnership in the fourth innings that is batting with intent.


    • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 4:57 pm

      Pressure is no on England. Often see teams begin to get close and then fall in a heap chasing a large total.

      Been a great match mind.


    • dArthez Aug 8, 2020 / 5:38 pm

      The downside is that you’ll be stuck with Buttler for the next five years. Not sure if that is a price England should actually be willing to pay to win this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 5:43 pm

        Probably stuck with him for the next 10 years anyway #Edspet


  7. Metatone Aug 8, 2020 / 6:38 pm

    Cricket eh? Bloody hell.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sean Aug 8, 2020 / 6:50 pm

      Test cricket even better


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