Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Review of the 1st Test v Pakistan

The second half of a miserable summer if you are English. This series promised fantastic cricket and Lord's looked, well like Lord's. Pakistan pressed on and pressed up as England, like the pound, have suffered general devaluation since last playing Test cricket in early June. This was a game of brilliant cricket, front runners Pakistan getting their noses in front and staying there, although magic moments from Chris Woakes kept the hosts in the game. Here we review the first Test versus Pakistan...

The Home of Cricket
For England, Jimmy and Ben Stokes were missing. They had a bowl in the nets at Lord's but getting through five days of a Test match on a wicket as flat as Lord's is a different kettle of fish. In fact, no first class fixture has had a positive result on this ground since Yorkshire claimed the County Championship here last September. For Pakistan, all the talk was of Mohammad Amir. Whilst Amir returned to the ground that caused him to eat porridge, plenty of social media experts were stirring their own stories. Jake Ball debuted for the hosts. Pakistan had three left armers and a leggie; an unusual attack by any standards.

Pakistan won the toss and batted. Shan Masood soon found out that his concrete footwork will get sorted out here and Azhar Ali was sent up a blind alley, batting over an hour for 7. Mohammed showed he could Hafeez cake and eat it with a 40 odd. The innings was underpinned by a fantastic hundred from Misbah. Aided and abetted by the 38 year old Younis Khan, his partnership with the 42 year old skipper made the back row of the lower tier of the pavilion look sprightly. Misbah celebrated by doing ten press ups. Pakistan reached 339, Woakes with six wickets with Jake Ball looking decent too.

Misbah celebrates his ton

When England batted the skipper got 81, Root got 48 and Woakes got 35 not out. The rest were spun out by Yasir Shah. It could have been worse if Pakistan's fielding was better. I have seen some wonderful Pakistani leg spinners over the years from Abdul Qadir to Mushtaq Ahmed. Yasir is possibly the best of the lot. He finished with 6-72.

When Pakistan batted again they were all out for 215. An ugly heave to Moeen Ali accounted for the skipper, but Woakes was outstanding again as he added a 'Michelle' to his first innings six. Now English selectors have faith in him, he just gets better and better and has been a real find for England bowling in good areas at a decent lick. Finn has been getting a bad press but I thought he was unlucky in the second innings and showed heart. A dropped Bairstow catch off his bowling didn't help and plenty of nicks to the cordon didn't carry. Cordon Bleu Murder for the Watford man.

Woakes...11 wickets

England required 280 odd to win and frankly there were some bloody awful shots. Hales, Root, Bairstow and Ali will be disappointed with their mode of dismissal whilst the recalled Ballance was undone by a wonder ball from Shah. The final wicket was when Jake Ball was bowled by Amir. The last time he left this ground was in disgrace, now he finished the game off with aplomb. Pakistan won by 75 runs. They deserve Mickey Arthur to let them off their homework.

For Pakistan they celebrated with an army boot camp style, press up celebration. For England, Cook talked of naivety but in truth this has been coming. England cannot keep flashing shots in red ball cricket as they do with the white ball and as soon as they met a decent side, they were found out. It is one of the reasons that many bats get starts and don't convert into big scores. England have some big match players but the likes of Ali, Finn, Hales and Ballance have to start contributing. Maybe I am being harsh on the Notts man after a decent series versus Sri Lanka but his footwork needs improvement. Pakistan were the better side throughout with Yasir outstanding. The three left arm seamers are all excellent bowlers to back him up and create a bit of rough for the leg spinner too.


So on to Old Trafford. For the 42 year old Misbah, Trafford will be just a number.

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