England vs. Pakistan – 3rd Test, Day 3 – Drops

A big day for Buttler, Anderson and England left them in the driving seat in this final Test of the summer. As well as their good play, they were also the beneficiaries of good fortune which really ended Pakistan’s slim chance of saving this Test.

In many ways, today was a mirror image of the day before with Pakistan’s middle order rescuing their team from an abject start. The tourist’s start was even worse than England’s managing to score just 34 runs when their fourth wicket early this morning. Asad Shafiq’s dismissal was also Anderson’s fourth wicket of the innings, and he has very much put to bed rumours of his retirement since his press conference. Shafiq might consider himself very unlucky, because the players left the field immediately after his wicket due to a rain shower.

When play resumed, there was a sense of deja vu as conditions seemed to settle down and favour the batting side like they had on days one and two. The pitch seemed slightly slow, and the ball had relatively little lateral movement once it had seen a few overs. The difference between the two innings of this game so far is that England managed to keep taking wickets at infrequent intervals to hold Pakistan well below the score they need to avoid the follow-on.

Fawad Alam’s fortunes this summer seem to have gone from bad to worse in this series. After 11 years in the international wilderness, he was dimissed for a duck. Today, he was dismissed after edging a ball from Bess which was caught by Buttler. Aside from having Jos Buttler catch something at the stumps, which earlier games have shown is not his forte, it also appeared from replays to have been a no ball which wasn’t detected by either the on-field or TV umpires.

Law 27.3 states that:

The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play [when the bowler begins his run up] until a ball delivered by the bowler touches the bat or person of the striker, or passes the wicket at the striker’s end, or the striker attempts a run. In the event of the wicket-keeper contravening this Law, the striker’s end umpire shall call and signal No ball as soon as applicable after the delivery of the ball.

Here is a screenshot of Jos Buttler, before Fawad Alam hits the ball:

Buttler No ball

Ironically, this particular side-on replay was only shown once during a segment on Sky Sports which was demonstrating how Buttler’s technique at the stumps had improved from previous games. This point is true, and worth celebrating. Whilst I still wouldn’t pick him as wicketkeeper for a tour in spinning conditions, it has shown that he can improve this aspect of his game and hopefully that improvement continues. His adeptness with the gloves continued later in the game with two full-length catches on the leg side.

Whilst Buttler may have improved, England’s catching in the field was more of a mixed picture. Root took two chances in the slips, but Burns, Crawley and Broad all shelled chances. Hopefully these flaws across the England team are addressed before their tours this winter.

Whilst wickets fell at the other end, Azhar Ali played a fantastic innings of 141*. A Crawley-esque innings, you might say. Like Crawley, he has been under fire. Whilst undoubtedly talented, the Pakistan captain had scored just 38 runs in his first two games of the series. Unfortunately for Ali and Pakistan, he didn’t have a Buttler-esque partner to stick with him and Pakistan ended their innings 310 runs short of England’s total. England enforced the follow-on, but the players were taken off the field for bad light before the first ball was bowled. Pakistan might feel slightly aggrieved to have faced the second new ball in such poor light, when the umpires probably ended play in the previous Test under much better conditions.

To go with our observations on Friday about the ECB’s cozy relationship with Sky, it is interesting to consider what Sky’s coverage of Fawad Alam’s dismissal might have been like if Pakistan had taken the wicket of an English batsman with what would technically have been a no ball. Or how a Pakistani  broadcaster would have handled it had the game been played in Karachi. There is definitely a sense that host broadcasters often downplay or completely ignore incidents which might harm the home team, whilst reporting and repeating ones which might favour them. Many people might have opinions about the impartiality (or lack thereof) of the TV companies in India or Australia, but it would be a mistake to think Sky are any better. Despite being asked on Twitter about it by a journalist, and an article being posted on Wisden.com, it was never raised on Sky during play. Maybe, as well as neutral umpires, we could one day have neutral broadcasters as well?

Tomorrow will see Anderson trying to take two more wickets in order to reach the huge milestone of 600 Test wickets, whilst Pakistan have the distant objective of trying to force England to bat again.

As always, please comment below.


19 thoughts on “England vs. Pakistan – 3rd Test, Day 3 – Drops

  1. metatone Aug 23, 2020 / 7:26 pm

    England stuck at and got some reward. Need a bit of luck compared to the forecast perhaps, but are looking good for a win.

    I still think the weather across the series has covered over the sameness of Anderson/Woakes and to a lesser extent Broad. And while I take legglance’s point that it was clearly a good wicket when it flattened out, this kind of selection needs more scrutiny.

    On the bright side England’s brains trust have finally worked out, umpteen Tests after everyone else that Archer should be used in shorter, more hostile bursts. Good news, but so tiring that it took so long.


    • rpoultz Aug 24, 2020 / 7:59 am

      A great point about the weather across the series and, probably, to a wider extent the series against the West Indies. I can’t remember a time when England haven’t bowled under cloudy skies and the ball has been moving around. For me it just amplifies the issues with this England attack over several years. When the ball moves around they are lauded as bowling geniuses but when it flattens out and doesn’t move off the straight they are very ineffective.


    • Marek Aug 24, 2020 / 10:02 am

      …maybe copy and paste that post for use in February when Kohli and Agarwal are moving serenely towards a triple-century stand on a flat pitch!


      • rpoultz Aug 24, 2020 / 10:21 am

        Which makes it more than odd at the treatment of Archer. Looks like England’s only player who can play on any pitch in the world and have an impact.


  2. metatone Aug 23, 2020 / 7:28 pm

    On Buttler’s hands – I was taught wicketkeepers should be making a mark, like batsmen marking a line to take guard on, to make sure you weren’t too close. Is that out of fashion?


    • thelegglance Aug 23, 2020 / 7:43 pm

      I never did that, I must admit. The return crease is there anyway as a marker.
      I did get no balled once for it. Fair enough too, from time to time umpires would mention it got a bit close. Like front foot no balls, keepers will push the line I guess.


      • dannycricket Aug 23, 2020 / 7:51 pm

        I would guess that it helps with stumpings, not so sure about catching edges though. Does being closer mean the ball can’t deviate as far, increasing your chances of holding on, or does it mean you have less time to get your gloves in place?


        • thelegglance Aug 23, 2020 / 8:21 pm

          It’s more about taking the ball close enough to the stumps so you can effect a stumping quickly. Too far back and you can miss them on the swing past. Which is very embarrassing indeed.


          • dannycricket Aug 23, 2020 / 8:31 pm

            Could be worse. Some clubs have video cameras set up now, imagine seeing it in slow motion on a loop in the pavillion.


  3. Marek Aug 23, 2020 / 11:12 pm

    The law says also that the no-ball should be called by the striker’s end umpire, who from that still (although there are some funny things going on with perspective in it) doesn’t look in any position to do so, and certainly not in any position to adjudicate a stumping.


    • dannycricket Aug 24, 2020 / 4:06 am

      Well the laws are obviously written in relation to games without DRS. International umpires are trained to get out and stay out of the camera’s way with regards to line decisions.

      That said, normally umpires would be in line with the batting crease (to check stumpings and run outs) rather than the wicket I believe.


  4. thelegglance Aug 24, 2020 / 11:48 am

    Utterly bizarre to hear the commentators make excuses about the ball moving after passing the batsman as the reason for that Buttler drop. Whatever the views on his merits as a keeper, why is it so hard to admit it’s a dreadful, terrible one?

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Aug 24, 2020 / 12:23 pm



    • Mark Aug 24, 2020 / 1:12 pm

      Because he is one of the England players who’s face fits the regime. Those lucky individuals get a relatively free ride by both broadcasters and ECB selectors.

      It’s been true since the tour that we mustn’t mention (cough, cough 2014) that there are certain players who are untouchable, and others who’s “card has been marked.”

      Certain players can drop catches, while others will be attacked for slow scoring rates. Certain players can make mild complaints, about selection and be demonised while others can launch diatribes in press conferences and get away with it. There is no logic.


  5. metatone Aug 24, 2020 / 11:52 am

    Oh look, England swing bowlers putting it in a bit too short again is it?


  6. metatone Aug 24, 2020 / 12:24 pm

    Rain and bad light – I can see if it’s the same tomorrow there won’t be that many overs bowled.


  7. rpoultz Aug 24, 2020 / 12:47 pm

    Listening to Dom Bess speak I find it remarkable again how he is Englands first choice spinner. He is a young man and at only 23 isn’t going to be anywhere near a finished article but test cricket isn’t a place to learn your trade. I am not sure what he exactly did to get in this position apart from be Ed Smith’s guy. Just from his interview he seems more concerned at this stage with keeping runs down and staying on rather than taking wickets. I feel sorry for Jack Leach who hasn’t had a test this summer who has done well and should be Englands first choice spinner.


  8. dArthez Aug 24, 2020 / 6:08 pm

    We don’t have neutral umpires in this game. Not going to say that it shows, but Pakistan are really getting the rough end of the stick this Test.


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