Cow Corner

The value of using the bat

Cow Corner

View gallery

.

Perhaps England's batsmen will finally take heed of the advice given to them about using their bats instead of their pads to play against spin after having toiled through two gruelling sessions in the field.

England have contributed handsomely to the staggering tally of 37 lbws in the series (the record in any length of series is 43) and it took a match-changing partnership from Younis Khan and Azhar Ali to demonstrate the value of using the willow to avoid a DRS downfall.

After having been repeatedly told how flat the wicket was at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, evidence of it was finally found in the third innings of the match.

Younis plundered 115 alongside Azhar, who compiled a determined 75 as both appeared to play on an entirely different track to every other batsmen in an unbeaten partnership of 194 runs.

The pitch is slow and low but, crucially, the sound of ball against pad was conspicuous by its absence as Younis and Azhar worked the ball serenely through the leg side without a care in the world.

View gallery

.
It was in stark contrast to England's batting frailties, which are now so apparent that the tourists' average of 17.84 runs per wicket is now lower than in any completed series since the 19th century.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of England's continued insistence of using their pads to play spin on these low-bouncing wickets in the UAE is the alarming element of denial which surrounds their failings.

Stuart Broad, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior have all been seen poring over replays on the laptops owned by the analysis-specialists, highlighting issues (or excuses) that are out of their control.

Yes, the DRS is forcing players and umpires alike to adapt and tinker with their approaches, but the simple value of batsmen using their feet and their bats to play spin cannot be ignored for more complicated solutions.

The first century of this Test series was a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait as Younis struck 11 fours and a six as England's players were ground into the Dubai desert dust.

Quite inexplicably, 22 wickets had fallen for 268 runs and batsmen on both sides were in mental turmoil over a record number of lbw decisions when Younis began his inspired knock. He proceeded to confound everyone.

Indeed, such was the extent to which Younis and Azhar belied the travails of every previous effort with the bat, the tourists were reduced to displays of incredible petulance and immaturity in the field.

View gallery

.

++++

Meanwhile, away from Dubai, England's stars were roundly shunned at Saturday's Indian Premier League auction as James Anderson, Graeme Swann, Ian Bell and Matt Prior all went unsold.

Anderson was first to learn his fate, ignored at his base price of 300,000 US dollars, almost as soon as the process began in Bangalore.

Bell and Prior soon followed suit, as did a clutch of other English players before off-spinner Graeme Swann - with a reserve of 400,000 dollars - was also disappointed.

Ravi Bopara and limited-overs international all-rounder Luke Wright were unsold too, as was Ireland's big-hitter Kevin O'Brien - despite his astounding World Cup hundred to help beat England in Bangalore last year.

The IPL wipe-out for England's best means only Stuart Broad, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan - already contracted to franchises - will be playing in India in the window between forthcoming Test series in Sri Lanka and at home to West Indies.

Andy Flower will have had a little smile to himself.

View gallery

.

++++

STAT OF THE DAY: 22 wickets have now fallen in two days, while there have now been 37 lbws in the series (the record in any length of series is 43). Expect that record to be shattered by stumps on day three with England's second innings to come.

TWEET OF THE DAY: "Remember when commentators would say "I don't think you can give those" for close lbw's? The past is another country..." (ECB_PR)

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "When Pink Floyd wrote "hanging, hawning, quiet desperation is the English way" in "Time", they must have foreseen their batting against Saeed Ajmal in this series." (James)

SHOTS OF THE DAY: The cursory shot of two men and their dog (out of frame) in the stands at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. This match may finish very early, but the admission fees will hardly be sorely missed.

View gallery

.
Younis and Azhar decide that they did not do enough running in during their 194-run partnership so proceeded to charge back out after dark and get in a few more miles.

View gallery

.

View Comments