England must improve but no time to panic

January 19, 2012

England cricket over the past three days has been reminiscent of a kid being thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool. This was the first time England had played a Test match in Dubai, and they were unable to adapt to their new surroundings.

England suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of an improving Pakistan team at the Dubai International Stadium today, registering their first defeat in 10 Test matches. The reason the loss was so hard to take for England, was that as a country we have been gloating about the team and its ranking.

Being number one in the world is a great achievement, and it was right that this group celebrated its status. However, it’s now time to get back to reality. England reached number one through consistent, well thought out cricket. What I was viewing on Sky Sports 1 today, couldn’t have been further away from this.

A key component of England’s defeat was their inability to adapt to conditions. Competing in a Test match in a desert is not comparable to Lord’s on a Thursday. So how do you familiar yourself with conditions? The simple answer is that you must acclimatise, and this works for any walk of life. England played just 2 three day matches in the lead up to this series, not enough!

This England team has not seen competitive Test match cricket since the end of the English summer. I’m all for the players having time off to be with their families, and re charge their batteries, but we needed more time to prepare for Pakistan in the UAE. England’s cricket will improve as this series goes on without question, but my fear is that we have left it too late with only three matches in the series.

England have not become a bad team overnight (despite what it looked like), and Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower will be drilling this fact into their men. Spending time at the wicket on slow pitches in the sub-continent takes a huge amount of patience. England’s batsmen need to occupy the crease for longer, spend more time looking at Saeed Ajmal’s variations, and just make it more difficult for Pakistan to chalk up wickets.

England’s bowlers toiled hard on day 2 to get back into the game and they come out of this match with some credit. My gut feel before the Test series started was that Monty could be a key figure in securing victory for the visitors, this has not changed. It will be a brave decision to leave out a batter and play an extra bowler after such a horrific display, but I would take the risk. Slow wickets take much more out of fast bowlers then green hardtops. England need energy in the tank from their quicks when Strauss throws them the ball, and Monty through bowling overs will give them this.

England have yet to put this Pakistan team under any pressure in this series, and if they can stay in games for longer, through smarter cricket I would still expect the experience and class of England to win big moments, but they must give themselves the chance to do this.

Chris Murtagh 19/01/2012

Add a Comment