England are overrated. We’re not saying they don’t deserve to be considered the best Test side around at the minute; we’re saying the best Test side isn’t automatically the favourite to win a given series.
While England have mullered most sides in home conditions, it’s been a while since they played any of the major subcontinental sides away from home. American readers will be intrigued to learn that the United Arab Emirates isn’t in Pakistan. However, this doesn’t alter the fact that conditions will suit the ‘home’ side more than les Rosbifs.
Most significantly, this series is likely to give us more spin than Malcolm Tucker burying bad news by doing cartwheels on a roundabout. Spin is something England haven’t really had to deal with for a surprisingly long time.
Spin, spin, spin the wheel of justice
Spin is a major facet of Test cricket and most of the England team are relative novices. Two Tests in Bangladesh a couple of years ago amount to little more than a solid and largely-forgotten warm-up. Before that, we have to go back to 2008 to find the last time England had to deal with the more obtuse angles presented by 55mph bowling. They didn’t fare well, losing 1-0 to India.
In three innings in that series, their top score was 316. Andrew Strauss batted well and Kevin Pietersen got a hundred, but the man they’ll miss most from back then is the one who supposedly lacked talent – Paul Collingwood.
We always thought Collingwood looked pretty skilful when confronted by the tweakers. Contrast his uncanny ability to find singles with the efforts of many of his team mates who looked like stiff-legged automatons despite supposedly being blessed with that most desirable of qualities – ‘class’.
‘Class’ has a couple of different meanings. Maybe we were wrong to assign it a cricketing one.
P.S. Paul Collingwood and spin bowling
Officially, this article ends with that pithy, chip-on-shoulder sign-off. However, we’ve got some statistics that we want to include, so consider this a postscript.
Here are Paul Collingwood’s Test batting averages in various places where batsmen tend to face a lot of spin bowling.
- In Bangladesh – 49.33
- In India – 57.14
- In Pakistan – 47.25
- In Sri Lanka – 28.25 (shit)
- In the West Indies – 61.42
Some of you might quibble with the inclusion of the West Indies, but don’t be swayed by the region’s old reputation. Collingwood only played there in the 2009 Wisden Trophy – a series in which Sulieman Benn, Chris Gayle and Ryan Hinds between them bowled 371 overs.