England A 595-9d & 153-1d Pakistan 242 & 154-2: Inzamam has last laugh at joke bowling
Monday 10 July 2006
Pakistan face a bowling crisis ahead of the first Test at Lord's which starts on Thursday - with injuries to Rana Naved-ul Hasan and Mohammad Asif, and Shoaib Akhtar not yet in the country - so it came as little surprise to see the tourists opt to rest the fit members of their attack on the final day of the four-day match against England A.
This approach, along with that of England A, who chose to bat on and on and on before declaring and bowling joke bowlers, resulted in the game reaching a farcical conclusion. The attitude of England A, whose aim was to reduce the amount of worthwhile batting practice Pakistan could obtain before the first Test, was especially disappointing because, after scoring 595 for 9 and bowling the tourists out for 242 in their first innings on Saturday, they had an excellent chance of victory.
But instead of asking Pakistan to follow on and pushing for the win they let Alastair Cook and Ian Bell score meaningless runs against two part-time spinners.
England A games were introduced to make tourists' matches more worthwhile. Counties had become guilty of playing weakened teams against visiting sides bringing down the quality of the cricket. But, after this showing, counties have every right to demand the right to once again host these potentially lucrative matches. If Robert Key, the England A captain, imagines that his tactics - possibly under instruction from officials higher up the ladder - will have a detrimental effect on Pakistan's performance at Lord's, he is kidding himself. All they did was show a lack of ambition.
Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, will moan that his players lack experience against international opposition, yet here they wasted a golden opportunity to see how Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Ravi Bopara fare against one of the best batting line-ups in cricket. Instead, Chris Read took his pads off and bowled while Key, Cook, Owais Shah and Bell sent down an assortment of filth.
England A spent the last 90 minutes of the game attempting to make the cricket so trivial that Pakistan accepted the draw and walked off. But Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, would have none of it. He has made a career out of cheesing people off who aggravate him, and he chose to highlight how pathetic England's approach was by keeping them in the field until 6.30pm.
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