At this stage of any cricket tour, all anybody wants to do is go home. Of nobody is this truer in the United Arab Emirates at present than the "home" side. Pakistan have been away for too long and it is beginning to show.
Mohsin Khan, their coach, said yesterday: "Every home series is an away series, and they have been away for a long time. I don't think you can take homesickness away. If you stay in a palace but your home is a two-bedroom house your home is always your home."
There are eight days to go and every one of them may seem like a month for Pakistan. This may not be least because in terms of matches the tour is only just half over. With six games gone – three Test matches and three one-day internationals – there are still four still left – the last ODI and three Twenty20s.
England have turned things round with gusto, belatedly adapting to the conditions. Had the schedule been turned round they might well have been much more competitive in the Test matches, behaving much more like the world's No 1 side than a bunch of bozos.
As it is, they find themselves 3-0 ahead in the one-day series with a whitewash in view today at the Dubai ICS, to be witnessed doubtless by another barely discernible crowd. Word is that everybody hereabouts is saving themselves for the T20s. Seeing will be believing, but if so it will be another notch on the escutcheon of the shortest form of the game on its way to global domination. England's self-esteem, which was dealt a mighty blow after the shock of the Test series, is intact again. They have played much the smarter cricket in the three 50-over matches so far and made a nonsense of Pakistan's six successive series wins.
"Our principles have changed," said the England middle-order batsman Eoin Morgan. "We've gone from being a small bit positive and reckless, from not knowing where we were, to being a bit more solid and experienced and getting runs behind us and taking wickets up front. So that's where our principles lie. In our last summer we came a long way. But the stint we did in India – when I wasn't there – pegged us back a long way. So we're starting from scratch in terms of playing in this part of the world. We've got off to a fantastic start.
"But it comes back to a case of not getting carried away with where we are or where we want to be. Where we are is No 6 [one-day side] in the world, where we want to be is No 1 in the world by the World Cup in 2015," he added.