Cow Corner

It only happens twice a lifetime

Cow Corner

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Pakistan crush England

Test cricket never ceases to amaze and England managed to achieve something today they had only managed once before in the last 110 years.

It was just the second time in that period England had lost, having been set less than 150 to win.

Old Trafford in July 1902, Wellington in 1978 and now Abu Dhabi 2012 - defeats of spectacular ignominy.

And in truth England got nowhere close, dismissed for 72 in less time than a Pro40 innings: it is never a good sign when the boy L E G Byes is your third top scorer.

The skipper did get to 32 but half of those runs came after Andrew Strauss was inexplicably given not out by a Billy Bowden seemingly hoping that his Kiwi compatriots didn't lose the record highlighted above.

England had no answers - they batted like Rain Men to Rehman. A lack of positive footwork, a lack of outlet shots, no counter-attack.

A shocking collapse - but not a shocking shock.

England had won just two of their last 20 away Tests against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, losing eight of those matches before today.

They may have swapped the Punjab for the Gulf, but for Strauss, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen this match would have brought back strong memories of Multan in 2005 when they failed to chase down 198 with Danish Kaneria doing much of the damage that day.

They will now go into Friday's final Test in Dubai with little more than pride to play for, their number-one world ranking intact, but huge questions over whether they will stay there with forthcoming tours to the sub-continent where England bat as if stuck in the Rickshaw headlights.

So what is the answer?

The answer could be there is no answer bar a completely different upbringing.

Virender Sehwag is one of the great batsmen of the modern game but can't play the swinging ball for toffee. Put him on a dry dusty track in Asia and fireworks are almost inevitable.

Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook are run machines, while Pietersen and Bell average 49 and 47 respectively in Test cricket - surely too good a record to be discarded.

What cannot be denied is that, ironically, in the Gulf they are seeing it like a golf ball and are hopelessly out of touch.

There is often a scapegoat in such situations and that could well be Eoin Morgan who is not only short of runs but looks technically exposed at this level, highlighted today by being bowled through a gate so big that could you drive a Fiat Punto through it.

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It was a bad day for England fans, an inevitable day for Indian followers and a woeful day for Zimbabwe supporters and, by association, Ireland.

India's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Australia in Adelaide makes it a string of eight consecutive defeats, their second-worst streak of defeats on foreign soil and sees the Baggy Green join MS Dhoni's men at joint third in the world rankings.

While over the Tasman in Napier, New Zealand highlighted the gulf in international cricket when they bowled Zimbabwe out twice to win at McLean Park in Napier by an innings and 301 runs.

Casting aside all the upheaval in Zimbabwean society in recent years and the inevitable knock-on effect on the cricket infrastructure, such thumpings do little for the case of the second-tier nations, especially in a week when Ireland reiterated their desire to become a Test nation.

Test cricket's biggest thumpings:

England bt Australia by innings & 579 runs (London 1938)

Australia bt South Africa by innings & 360 runs (Johannesburg 2002)

West Indies bt India by innings & 336 runs (Kolkata 1958)

Australia bt England by innings & 332 runs (Brisbane 1946)

Pakistan bt New Zealand by innings & 324 runs (Lahore 2002)

West Indies bt New Zealand by innings & 322 runs (Wellington 1995)

West Indies bt Bangladesh by innings & 310 runs (Dhaka 2002)

New Zealand bt Zimbabwe by innings & 301 runs (Napier 2012)

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STAT OF THE DAY: 161-16 off 74.3 overs - the story of a dramatic day.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Most of them too offensive to quote directly but rent-an-appeal Adnan Akmal was trending in the UK and it is not because of his neat glove work.

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "What a lot of plonkers! All of them got out before Monty had a chance to face the bowling and maybe score the winning runs." (Ainslie)

SHOT OF THE DAY: There weren't many on a day when 16 wickets fell but Umar Gul would have enjoyed smashing Stuart Broad over mid-wicket for a big six.
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