OPINION: Another Test, Another Humiliation for England
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Another Test, another humiliating defeat. England were comprehensively outplayed by Pakistan in all areas of the game, resulting in a crushing nine-wicket loss, the sixth in the last eight tests.
Pakistan simply looked sharper, more disciplined, this being demonstrated through there tenacious batting in typical English conditions and sublime fielding. Whereas England on the other hand, showed little or no discipline being bowled out for 184 on the first day, admittedly in difficult conditions.
This failure like, many others within English Cricket ultimately fall at the feet of the ECB, who I am sure will have been given a great wakeup call by this defeat.
Batting has undermined England's Test success for the past 18 months, an in many respects is the largest issue facing the team. Since Andrew Strauss’ retirement in 2011, Alastair Cook has had twelve different opening partners, none of which have been able to tie down a place, Mark Stoneman, in particular, was tasked with opening within this Test following a poor winter in Australia and an even poorer start to the County Championship scoring only 115 runs in seven innings with a high score of 29.
Not quite what you expect of your apparent Test Opener, begging the question of why he was selected ahead of other opening candidates such as Keaton Jennings. Jennings, in particular, has found himself in good form at the start of the season averaging 44.86 in seven innings with the bat. This is in addition to the emergence of young players of Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes, and Joe Clarke.
Yet their claims for a place were quashed by the reimposition of Jos Butler, a limited-overs specialist whom in the past two years has played minimal red ball cricket. Admittedly the gamble on Butler, by new head national selector Ed Smith in some regards paid off, but the result of the test poses the question of why even with a new structure in place are in-form players being disregarded for the ‘old guard’.
However, the issues within the England team are not solely down to batting. For many years now England have had the consistent performers of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, a formidable bowling attack at their disposal. Both of these players are in the twilight of their career and can no longer be expected to win games from improbable situations on a consistent basis.
Personally, I would like to see a greater integration of young seamers such as Jamie Porter leading wicket-taker in the County Championship last season. I understand that both Broad and Anderson still have the ability but surely we should be looking to the future, otherwise, we will be left in a greater mess than we already are.
Following the test a lot of fingers have been pointed towards Trevor Bayliss, the head coach of the England Team, personally I believe this to be unfair as he has achieved what he was employed to do. He was employed to improve England's white ball cricket and that he has done.
However, the issues lie with people much higher in the ECB namely Andrew Strauss and his team of selectors. The extent of ECB’s neglect of Test Cricket is now only coming to a light, but these issues have been apparent as far back to the height of cricket last summer.
England’s humiliating defeat to Pakistan in the first test of the summer of Lords, is ultimately a culmination of several years of ECB policies. These include, the Encouragement of Expansive aggressive cricket, prioritisation of 20/20 and overseas franchise cricket and the subsequent dilution of quality of our county game, which have all played apart in England’s demise in what was once the pinnacle of cricket.
Yes, we as a nation are a force to be reckoned with in the shorter formats of the game but at what cost? It surely has done nothing to plug the dwindling interest in cricket within the UK.
The ECB as an organisation is in need of serious reform, and until that day cricket, the game many of us love will continue to suffer within the UK.
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