Cricket

England vs Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed and Co dominated under-prepared hosts in all departments to win Lord's Test

  • Charles Reynolds
  • May 28th, 2018
  • 8:47:28 IST

After yet another disastrous winter and the high farce surrounding the announcement of ‘The Hundred’, most people assumed that things couldn't get all that much worse for English cricket – how wrong they were.

Mohammad Amr celebrates the wicket of Dominic Bess as Pakistan clinch the Lord's Test by nine wickets. AFP

Mohammad Amr celebrates the wicket of Dominic Bess as Pakistan clinch the Lord's Test by nine wickets. AFP

May is traditionally a happy hunting ground for England, an amuse-bouche of an often slightly under-prepared, lower ranked team, in helpful early season conditions, to get the side revved up for more challenging opposition later in the summer.

Before the start of this match, most people assumed that this Pakistan challenge would be gobbled up with relatively ease, instead England have managed to choke on it and then spit it all over their trousers.

Perhaps the only consolation for a beleaguered Joe Root after this chastening defeat, which didn't even make it to the end of the first session on Day Four, is that this team is running out of ways in which things could possibly get worse.

There are leaks all over England’s ship and they continue to struggle to plug them. The role of Alastair Cook’s opening partner now appears more cursed than Spinal Tap’s drummer, and Mark Stoneman does not currently look like a man capable of breaking that hoodoo.

He has had a diabolical start to the county season and that has unsurprisingly followed him into the international arena, here unable to repay the faith the selectors had in him to the extent that dispensing with him would appear akin to a mercy killing at this point.

Another man who looks on borrowed time is Dawid Malan, that Ashes century seems a long way away now, while that modest first class record seems increasingly relevant and England’s middle order remains as flaky as it has been for what feels like an eternity.

As anyone who watched English cricket in the 90s can testify, knee-jerk selection changes are usually a poor idea, and yet with Stoneman and Malan it seems increasingly unlikely that, through current form or technique respectively, either is destined for a prolific summer and the kindest thing would be to replace them before long.

In a reversal of the expected order of things, England were disastrous in the field in this Test, chances missed and catches put down with the sort of tragicomic regularity usually so championed by Pakistan – as it was their opponents could scarcely have looked sharper.

In fact in almost all areas, Pakistan were everything that England were not. It was they who made the most of the bowling conditions to skittle England for a modest first innings score, they who refused to succumb to the panic of yet another batting collapse every time they lost a key wicket and they who produced an all round team performance to comfortably outplay underprepared-looking opponents.

It says a lot that one of the few bright spots for England was the performance with the bat of a 20-year-old off spinner on Test debut, that is not how things are supposed to work, particularly on home turf.

"We've got to give it time to work,” said Root in a press conference after the game, but for now they have four days until the next Test at Headingley, time they’re going to need to make the most of if things aren't going to continue to spiral ominously downwards.

Updated Date: May 28, 2018 08:47:28 IST

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