One test in, England are one-nil down. Well done Pakistan
Having brushed Sri Lanka aside England are in the midst of a much sterner test against an in-form Pakistan. And the visitors succeeded where many others have failed of late, i.e. to expose England’s weaknesses.
Perhaps England’s main weakness is a lack of top quality spinner. Moeen Ali is useful for a good few overs and tends to surprise many batsmen and trick them into a false sense of security. He is, however, a second spinner. If he couldn’t bat would he be in the side? Very unlikely. He’s a backup option, not lead the attack material. How and why England have chosen to ignore Adil Rashid amazes me. Over the decades English selectors have shown a reluctance to pig leg-spinners and Rashid is seen as susceptible of leaking a few runs – but he has proven in ODIs and T20s that he is able to keep it tight. Thankfully they have at least indicated they are willing to put this right by naming him in the 13 man squad for the second test. They must pick him – especially as Old Trafford tends to offer encouragement to the twirlers. England have a bit of a selection dilemma on their hands – I suspect Ben Stokes and Moeen are fighting it out for one place.
Unfortunately against high calibre opposition such as Pakistan England need everyone firing on all cylinders. One person who certainly isn’t is Steven Finn. He did bowl much better in the second innings – and better than his figures suggest – and that’s perhaps what’s kept him in the squad for the second test. Without the pace he once had though he will surely make way when the final XII is named.
Someone who is enjoying a purple patch, however, is Chris Woakes. He’s certainly exceeded my expectations recently and would appear to belong at this level. The boy can bat too – precious runs in the lower order given Broad appears unable to recover his form of old – post face helmet smash.
The jury is still out on James Vince – useful runs in the second innings – i.e. when it really mattered (but not enough) count in his favour but he could still do with a decent knock to convince the selectors he belongs at this level.
And finally – the wicket keeping conundrum. Bairstow gets in the side as a batsman and is worthy of that spot. Time will only tell if England decide to opt for a better keeper (Jos Buttler is the next in line but is only marginally better at the glovework).
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