England are desperate to move on from their abject defeat in the first Test. The 80-mile road trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi yesterday should have helped them, the exchange of one opulent desert sheikhdom for another providing a journey designed to put this oddest of international cricket tours into perspective.
Whether it will be anything like enough to transform their fortunes in the second Test, which starts on Wednesday, is open to serious doubt. How perceptions have changed after a single match, in truth a solitary bowling spell, as a result of which the man who delivered it has now become officially the world's best spinner.
The world's No 1 team have spent the greater part of their waking hours since – and presumably may have had a few nightmares – trying to come up with a solution to Saeed Ajmal. The bogeyman is coming to get them.
A week ago, England were chipper, they were clear favourites to win the three-match series and Pakistan's good form would be given a reality check.
It was a theory which did not make it to lunch on the first day. Pakistan, victors in three days in the first Test, are holding all the aces and in Ajmal possess cricket's most prized asset.
Matt Prior discussed the malfunctioning batting unit yesterday. "You have to have a clarity, that's the important thing, certainly if someone can spin it both ways," he said. "It makes it tricky and he is quite tough to pick. If you aren't picking him you have to find the way that gives you the best chance to survive long enough that you start seeing his action better. Whether that's trying to sit in as long as possible or attack and put the pressure back on the bowler, that's a very individual thing."
England are giving nothing away about their team for the second Test. There have been hints Steve Finn might replace Chris Tremlett. It is not the personnel that England need to change – yet. It is something much more fundamental.Reuse content