Comeback kid turns up the pressure on England

It was a bad day all round for England yesterday. First their attack was damned with faint praise by their former bowling coach, Troy Cooley, as the Ashes war of words was stepped up.

Then their batsmen ran into a heap of trouble at the hands of the Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Asif - and Umar Gul - who both picked up four wickets to help rout the hosts for 173. Considering that just last week it looked as if Asif would be left out of this final Test it was quite some performance, suggesting that had the other two Pakistani strike bowlers - Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan - been fit, then this series could well have taken an entirely different turn.

Because there is no doubt that for all his rawness, Asif is certainly effective, swinging the ball both ways at a challenging enough pace - around the mid-80mph mark - as well as getting the ball to move off the seam.

But England must have known what to expect, since they ran into him at the start of last winter when he turned out for Pakistan A in a warm-up match at Lahore. On that occasion Asif sliced the heart out of the England first innings finishing with 7 for 62 and three further victims in the second took his match return to 10 for 106.

Somehow, though, Asif did not make it into the Test team; he had to wait until January before making his debut, against Australia in Sydney. It was an inauspicious start with not a single wicket in the defeat. But he made up for it in his next four Tests, amassing a total of 25 wickets at an impressive 20 runs per wicket. And he was then allowed to acclimatise himself to English conditions with a stint at Leicestershire, for whom he picked up 25 wickets in seven Championship matches.

The 23-year-old Asif did take his time to work up a head of steam yesterday, but he eventually got into his stride, to account for three England batsmen - Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood - in 11 balls.

The dismissal of the first two meant Alastair Cook had to survive a hat-trick ball, which he did manage, but the potency of Asif was in evidence, which is more than Cooley could say for his former disciples.

Cooley, now the bowling coach with Australia, was asked who had the superior attack, Australia or England. "I think we have," was his response after he had been watching Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee in action. "They have a very good, formidable attack, and on our day when they're all firing, it'll be a good shoot-out."

But the Tasmania-born Cooley, who is credited with improving the England attack and helping Simon Jones to become the world's foremost reverse-swing bowler, also had some ominous news for England. He said that Lee's rhythm and action looked good and that he was aiming to instil the self-same reverse-swing skills that helped Jones.

"You want to try to have all the deliveries under your belt," Cooley said. "Reverse swing is one of them, and if conditions suit we'll definitely try to take advantage of it."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk