Cricket: Deflated Lloyd makes no excuses

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The Independent Online
You know things are bad when not even David Lloyd can find much to be upbeat about, and after the battering England took yesterday their normally irrepressible coach abandoned all attempt to look on the bright side and told it exactly like it was.

"There are no excuses," Lloyd said. "It's there for all to see. We had a poor day. Pakistan are bossing the game and strutting around and I don't like that."

This was a tough one for Lloyd to swallow. Ever since he took over at the start of the season he has been talking up England performances even when there seemed slim justification for doing so. There have undeniably been areas of improvement, and the series win over India represented tangible progress, but it has been followed by what will surely now be a series defeat at the hands of Pakistan.

The selection of six batsmen and five bowlers for The Oval was designed to give England their best chance of victory, but while there may have been nothing wrong with the plan in principle, Lloyd knows that the quality of its execution has been severely lacking. On Thursday night he had set 400 as the minimum England should aim at, but as he said, "there was a time when I didn't even think John Crawley would get his hundred."

The inability of the tail to wag was one thing, the failure of the bowling quite another. "We had a disappointing day with the ball," Lloyd said. "That's not the sort of thing you want to see too often. We bowled poorly.

"Playing for England you'd expect the discipline to be a bit better. We'll obviously talk again about bowling with more discipline and trying to be patient."

There was what Lloyd called the "light relief" of Alan Mullally's late flourish with the bat, "but that was about the only fun we had all day."

There had been no recriminations, however. "If you were to walk into our dressing room now you'll find it's a very quiet place. For no one was it a poorer day than the people who played in it."

The mood among the Pakistanis was rather different. Saeed Anwar could look back on a third Test hundred with some relief. "I'd been getting out in the 80s and 90s," he said. "So I had it in my mind today that if I got that far I would go on to get a hundred. I wanted it very badly."

Saeed, who missed Pakistan's tour to Australia this winter because of illness, was too polite to agree that the England attack had been a bit wayward. "It was my kind of wicket," he said. "It was bouncy and didn't seam much. The ball came on nicely."

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