Cow Corner

Damp squib in dank Cardiff

Cow Corner

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If 'dreary' and 'uninspiring' were not the terms on the tip of your
tongue after watching England pummel Pakistan in Cardiff then
perhaps your evening was better spent reading Ian Botham's books on fishing.

The tourists' attitude appeared to suggest they were keen to show the
world that worse was still to come from them as they were skittled out for just
89.

It is fair to say that England are thoroughly enjoying the summer, and
Graeme Swann et al treated the match as a testimonial at times, laughing,
joking and patting Timmy Bresnan's paunch at every opportunity.

It was an attendance which a certain Bill Lawry impersonator would have
bluntly described as 'piss poor', as the Welsh public clearly decided that
Pakistan's grim form, horrid weather and apologetic '80s pop was not a recipe
for a night out they much fancied.

The Pakistan capitulation was about as agonising as the persistent and
unrelenting bouts of Enya which pierced through the Tannoy and perhaps caused
the tourists to think that they would be better off in the safety of the
showers.

The tone was set by the ever-irresponsible Kamran Akmal, who seemed to
think that he was participating in a three-over contest, as his frenetic 11 came
to an abrupt end in just the second over with a six-to-win slog which he sliced
up into the dank air.

Shahid 'Boom, Boom' Afridi made a stronger statement with the branding
on his bat than the four-ball two he mustered as he strode purposefully out to
the middle, then straight back to the hutch using his plank of willow as an
umbrella of shame.

Specialist fielder Mohammad Hafeez went 27 balls without a boundary as
he looked to be setting his sights on a stoic 15, but had to settle for a
pedestrian 14 as he ran himself out in absurd fashion.

Ryan Sidebottom, who is to fielding what Alan Mullally was to batting,
rammed home the incompetence of the Pakistan side as he ran out Hafeez, who
should perhaps be shown his dismissal on a loop for the next week.

But Sidebottom's joy turned to fury as Umar 'I should be opening in this
side' Gul plundered boundaries, and there was almost steam coming out of the
seamer's rain-sodden perm as a yorker was flicked fine for four.

There was, however, one moment when it looked as though dressing room
relations would be torn as Eoin Morgan grounded a howler at point off a
seething Stuart Broad, who reacted as though someone had chucked his hair mousse
off the England balcony.

It was a pretty lethargic reply from England, but it did not need to be
any more as the hosts coasted through to their ice baths and post-'workout'
protein shakes while barely breaking a sweat.

Steve Davies, Craig Kieswetter, Ravi Bopara and Paul Collingwood all
produced fleeting cameos, before Eoin 'don't brand me as a finisher' Morgan
steered his side beyond the finish line alongside Michael Yardy-of-ale.

It was all too easy for England, and for the supporters who decided it
was not worth turning up for the contest, with Pakistan left to mull over
another spineless, and ultimately hapless, defeat.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Gul, Pakistan's
perennial best batsman, came in at number nine and proceeded to mow a short
ball from Broad over square leg for a violent six, then grounded his bat with
bewildering nonchalance.

STAT OF THE DAY: Pakistan recorded
their lowest ever Twenty20 international score, bettering (well, wrong term
perhaps) the 125 for nine they slumped to against Australia in Melbourne earlier
this year. Their effort on this ground in the first match of the series was
their lowest total batting first.

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "A drab match, an empty ground, miserable weather, all too easy
for England, and the Pakistan players may as well fly home tomorrow."
(Mark has lost all enthusiasm for Pakistan's
tour of England, and probably needed a whisky or two to get through the evening's
proceedings.)

SIDENOTE OF THE DAY: Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones fell foul of the London tube strike
congestion to miss the first 40 minutes of play against Worcestershire today
and was not held responsible for his late arrival by the club. The 22-year-old returned
to take four for 51, making him the pick of the Middlesex attack, but how can a
professional sportsman be nearly an hour late for the start of play due to
public transport?

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