Seven things we learned from England v Pakistan

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Via Sky Sports
Via Sky Sports

We’ve been trying to provide some sort of pithy and insightful summary of the Test series for 24 hours now, but it’s not really happening. We’ll instead content ourself with a vague collage of observations. If these are our workings-out, maybe you can provide the conclusion yourself.

Specialists and all-rounders

If you need someone to bat at seven or bowl right-arm fast-medium, England are spoilt for choice. However, if you want a specialist batsman, a fast bowler or a spinner, you’d be better off looking to the tourists.

England had more batsmen, but fewer effective specialist run-scorers. Despite greater numbers, they also had less diversity in their bowling attack.

If Moeen Ali could avoid being clattered for six…

Moeen emerged from the series with a better strike-rate than almost all the specialist bowlers. Blind yourself to the rate at which he concedes runs and he’s a very effective spinner. His stellar batting is an excellent distraction, but not quite blinding.

James Anderson has lost a quarter of a yard of pace

We don’t normally take claims that bowlers have ‘lost their nip’ too seriously because pace often varies from one match to the next. The difference with Anderson is that he said himself that he was down on pace in the second Test and then didn’t really seem to recover it. If he can retain a viable bouncer, he’ll probably be okay. Pace isn’t everything – but it is something.

Beware the out-of-form old pro

Younus Khan’s had it. Look at him. Look at the state of him.


Beware the conquered leg-spinner

Yasir Shah hasn’t posed a threat since Lord’s. He doesn’t spin it. England have worked him out.


Looking good and being effective are different things

Shivnarine Chanderpaul could have told you that, but James Vince has been trying to prove it from the opposite direction. We feared for Vince’s chances before he played and we haven’t seen a huge amount to reassure us since then. Nor has anyone else. County cricket’s who-saw-a-future-England-player-first-and-championed-his-cause-the-most competition will have to forget about this and move on. Do yourselves a favour though – don’t claim that a player ‘looks good’.


The last time Pakistan toured, cricket fans were left feeling sick and unenthusiastic about the game. Pakistan themselves were left a fractured mess. This time they leave with fans more enthused about the game and with a level of solidity to their cricket that it is hard to remember their ever having had before.

Misbah-ul-Haq is an alchemist who can turn middle-age into youth and chaos into order.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Just looking through those points and without knowing the results, it’d look like England had lost. While they haven’t, they have lost the aggregate series (home and ‘away’) 4-2, so maybe that’s reflective.

    While James Anderson has been more rmf than rfm for quite a while, it’s Stuart Broad’s lack of pace that worries me more. He’s thirty, isn’t he? He should still have another two years of solid pacey-ish bowling in him. Instead he’s going at 83s and bowling cutters. (Now watch him turn a match on its head in India.)

    The all-rounders thing, you suspect, wouldn’t actually be a problem if three of the people who were in the side only as batsmen had actually acted like it.

    That said, with Woakes and Stokes, the fact that two of England’s ‘proper bowlers’ are rfm is worrying. That leaves only one slot in the tail for either a decent spinner (Ollie Rayner for England!) or somebody with actual pace (Wood). There’s a strong argument for dropping one of Jimmy or Stu in the subcontinent that the selectors will pretend doesn’t exist.

    And Pakistan played as well.

    1. Broad often looks pretty ordinary until he has One Of His Spells. Here’s hoping he’s got A Few More Of His Spells in the proverbial suitcase.

      He should be batting at 11 though.

      1. The Broad piece linked as ‘pace isn’t everything’ was from just after the last time he was bowling medium-pace. This was from the week before.

      2. True, true, but this is his seventh Test this season. Unlike in the Windies, he’s got some match practice behind him, so it can’t be that. Was he tired? Then why didn’t someone else get a go?

        Ultimately they should be rotating seamers on a five-Test tour in India, but they didn’t here. Whatever is Broad’s problem, or (if the gulf is so great between him and the next man even when he’s achieving naff-all) England’s problem, we’ll likely come up against it again pretty soon.

        Either way I’m worried. Expect that worry to turn to resigned laughter halfway through the India tour.

      3. His purple patches seem to rely on helpful pitches, whether they are dry or green. He doesn’t do much on flatties.

      4. Worth pointing out as a counterpoint to this that despite the lack of spectacular returns, Broad was entirely effective this series. It could just be that he gauged what would work best for him on these pitches – cutters and bowling economically – and went with that.

      5. Cricinfo Hawkeye data has him down for the same average speed as Woakes and Finn at The Oval.

      6. That does surprise me. Not Finn, he’s been a bounce bowler not a speed bowler ever since his reinvention (not to mention being low on confidence); but everyone talks about Woakes being the fastest of the quartet. Whaddya know.

        The only answer is to drop all three of them.

      7. It’s more like their speeds overlap. Over the series, Woakes has generally been the quickest. Finn meanwhile has the capacity to be the quickest of the three but has at times been the slowest.

        This seems very English, discussing the relative speeds of a bunch of fast-medium bowlers. None of them are Shoaib Akhtar.

      8. The most English trait of all is to identify that all of them are fast-medium and then to presume that whichever one isn’t currently in the side (Stokes, Wood, Finn, or whoever it might be) will remedy this by assuming that they’re faster.

        The general idea is that if a bowler swings it less then they are assumed to make up for this by being quicker.

        Related phenomenon: This county wicketkeeper isn’t as good a batsman as whoever’s playing for England, so they’ll take more catches by default.

    2. Regarding the wealth of all-rounders and dearth of batsmen, three average batsmen who you’d normally be thinking about dropping would actually make England a strong side.

      1. If England could get back to having Bell, Collingwood and Strauss all averaging about 40 and we all had to debate which one should get dropped for the crime, that’d be great thanks.

      1. Grand piece that, Sam. I’m probably somewhere between you and yer grandad, capable of the gallows humour outwardly, but inwardly, irrationally irritated when a bunch of blokes with nothing in common with me bar the country of their passports cock up what is, after all, just a game.

    1. Thanks for alerting me to Sam’s piece, Balladeer.

      Well writ, Sam.

      I have many similar examples of overwhelming emotion and I’m not sure it’s a “youngsters v grandpas” thing necessarily.

      Indeed, one of my favourite examples I wrote up as the fourth paragraph of the following comment last year, in which Daisy’s mum, aka the Duchess of Castlebar, out-yelped me and Daisy in Wigmore Street, when England overcame, by the skin of its fragile teeth, the then still mighty West Indies, at Lord’s, late on the Saturday in 2000:

      The Duchess was well north of 70 even then.

  2. Peter Miller of the Geek and Friends podcast was the man who got James Vince essentially right, namely that he is the batsman who Ian Bell was always accused of being.

    Worse still for England, James Vince and Gary Ballance’s combined returns were less than what one could expect from the batsman whose name will invoke the return of Cthulhu to the realm of mortal men. If England want to make space in their team for another all-rounder, they should consider the problem of the particular bridge they tried to burn while they were still standing on it.

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