Saturday, 28 January 2012

England's Spinning Nightmare

It was the like bad old days of English cricket, a dramatic batting collapse snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

After Bowling out Pakistan for 214, England were set just 145 to win which would surely be a simple task for the current number one test team. What followed must have felt like an old nightmare to the England supporters, 51 runs after Alastair Cook fell for the first wicket, England were bowled out for a dismal 74.  Spin was once again the architect of England's downfall with similar suspects in play. Abdur Rehman (6-25) and Saeed Ajmal (3-22), tore into England's batting line up with only Andrew Strauss (32) and Matt Prior (18) reaching double figures. The pitch was not doing anything spectacular but England seems to often struggle with a slow turning pitch. Alastair Cook who played so well in the first innings, was the first to fall to opener Mohammad Hafeez and with the other inform batsman Jonathan Trott ill, this was a worry for England. On this tour Strauss, Bell, Pietersen and Morgan have all struggled for runs and confidence, the Pakistan team must have felt they had a chance and so it proved.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

On his day, England coach Andy Flower was one of the great players of spin bowling now he has to try and transfer some of his expertise into the English batting line up. Ian Bell has struggled with spin in the past, notably when facing the great Shane Warne and to a lesser extent Paul Harris whilst in South Africa. He has since grown into a world class batsman and now must find a way to play spin without getting bogged down and more importantly, getting out. Kevin Pietersen's problems with spin especially left arm bowlers are very well known, he likes to dictate the play and often tries to dominate the spinners, despite this he never seems at ease with the bowling and often gets his feet in a mess, for too long now he has struggled with spin and needs to starting finding the formula that combated Shane Warne in 2005. Eoin Morgan's place in the team hasn't seemed secure since day one, in this series he looks far from confident, it's as if he doesn't know his game at test level and time is fast running out for the Irish born lefthander with the likes of Ravi Bopara and James Taylor waiting in the wings.                                                                                                                                                  
With Pakistan now taking a 2-0 lead in the series and with one test to play England have little to gain in the last test, what they want and need to do is address their issues with spin and bounce back from the first two matches. Most of all they will want to prove to everyone why they are ranked the number one test team in the world.