Cow Corner

Can England improve in the desert?

Cow Corner

View gallery


A very bad three days at the office...

It would be disingenuous to simply explain away England's abject failure with the bat, citing rustiness and a lack of experience in unique conditions.

England were unceremoniously thrashed inside three days at the hands a side in apparent transition and undertaking a steep learning curve.

Make no mistake, Pakistan were clinical, ruthless and professional; meanwhile, England's showing was inept, uninspired and insipid.

England's dire showing with the bat in this Test match was so devoid of substance that scant constructive analysis can be offered.

The facts are not in the tourists' favour: England have now won just two Tests out of their last 18 on the subcontinent.

England began the third day with the steadfast belief that they had done the groundwork for a momentous recovery befitting the number one Test side in the world; they finished it with a second batting debacle and a massive defeat.

It took just 57.5 overs for England to capitulate with the bat second time around: this was not a defeat the tourists wanted to drag out.

In the first innings, England's top four mustered a meagre 41 runs; in the second, the same culprits managed 60 - 49 of which came from the bat of Jonathan Trott.

After a couple of chastening implosions, Australia's top order were commanded to attend a three-day 'Christmas batting camp' prior to the Boxing Day Test against India, and captain Michael Clarke has since led the way with a triple-century among his exploits.

For England, there are deep-rooted problems with batting in foreign conditions, particularly slow, low pitches - the gremlins of which seem to only be encountered by batsmen from these shores.

England's mediocre record in Asia is well documented and they face a formidable task to regroup for the final two Tests of the series.

There was much talk of how conditions in Dubai were tipped too heavily in favour of the batsmen, and the pitch at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium did appear to be pretty flat when Pakistan were making use of it.

England have certainly disproved many of the 'batsman friendly' assumptions regarding the conditions in the UAE, if only in the sense that not every batting unit has managed to exploit them.

It proved to be an excellent Test surface and Pakistan outplayed England from the outset and in two of the three departments, even looking competitive in terms of their fielding.

Where do the world's top-ranked side go from here?

The inquest begins in earnest, and it cannot be soon enough. Any suggestions of rustiness or unfamiliarity with conditions must be cast aside: the problems are technical and they are widespread.

Picking off Ajmal is not something that can be satisfactorily learned in the nets, but England must develop and hone their game plans against the unorthodox spinner.

But perhaps more urgently, England's batsmen need to pore over their transgressions and ensure that they possess the mental application and patient determination required to build a meaningful innings in testing conditions.

What did you make of England's 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan in Dubai? What changes, if any, would you like to see for the second Test in Abu Dhabi? In what ways do you think England need to improve?

View gallery


Where did it all go wrong?


The Decision Review System has not enjoyed the most auspicious start to its international career: it has been criticised; it has been snubbed; it has been neglected; it has been misused.

They say that all changes are best implemented with strong leadership at the top of an organisation, and the ICC have neglected to provide anything of the sort as the issue of technology becomes all the more hazy.

The BCCI have persistently snubbed the system altogether in acrimonious fashion, and the ICC have simply allowed their new game-changer to be greatly undermined as a result.

Even when the DRS has been effectively used to overturn erroneous decisions, there are too many individuals within the game determined to meet every call with disdain and cynicism.

"Nobody claims the DRS is perfect," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, had reminded everybody in Dubai earlier in the week.

The situation is further complicated by a cluster of confusing and inconsistent innovations: from the mercurial Hot Spot, to the enigmatic Snicko. The various forms of technology appear, to the average punter, to be constantly bickering with each other.

On day three there were two very controversial decisions which prompted some hysterical comments regarding the DRS.

In fact, for both decisions umpire Billy Bowden could not have been 100 per cent certain that either was out; he was at fault in each case along with TV umpire Steve Davis, not the technology.

View gallery


Strauss comes close to dissent

The DRS, according to Lorgat, had improved decision making to 99 per cent accuracy, but poor Saeed Ajmal fell victim to the remaining one per cent as the third umpire Davis flew in the face of common sense to the dismay of spectators (not at the ground itself, obviously) from both sides.

Equally, Strauss fell victim of the one per cent as Bowden and Davis contrived to uphold the decision to dismiss the England captain, despite Hot Spot showing nothing more than a faint dot on the trouser pocket as the ball flew down the leg side.

Even effective technology can be made to seem inadequate if it is held in disdain by those charged with applying it to aid their decision-making.


STAT OF THE DAY: This Test match was the fifth worst performance by England's first four wickets since the First World War. (via Zaltzcricket)

TWEET OF THE DAY: "Say what you like about 20:20 cricket, but no one's ever wasted their time and money buying a day four ticket." (ECB_PR)

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "What is the point of DRS if umpires are still going to give batsmen out when the replay appears to show the ball missing the bat and there is nothing on Hot Spot? Should you really give a batsman out on sound alone? There are all manner of things that can cause a sound. There was not enough there to give Strauss out in my opinion. There was no indication from the replay of the ball having hit the bat either." (Bobito)

SHOT OF THE DAY: It wouldn't be a day at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium without a cursory picture of a man with a stand all to himself. This fella looks incredibly happy, taking up seven seats and nipping out for a drink without a queue.

View gallery


On your own...

View Comments