Fletcher's plan to turn the corner

Nobody associated with the England team was fooling themselves that spin would take a holiday on this tour. They knew it was lurking there somewhere and would pounce, spitting and squirming horribly.

Nobody associated with the England team was fooling themselves that spin would take a holiday on this tour. They knew it was lurking there somewhere and would pounce, spitting and squirming horribly.

When it came on a surface begging for the stuff it came in waves, so that when one was done another took his place. Nobody knew quite what to do - so they got out.

There is the last match of the one-day series to be negotiated tomorrow in Rawalpindi, effectively a final with the teams tied at 1-1. England could win it because they must still be reflecting on how well they played on Tuesday in the first match, winning by five wickets having overhauled a total of 304.

But things have changed since then and it is possible they may never be the same again. The spinners are in town. The three of them took eight of the nine English wickets to fall in 30 combined overs for 108 runs. It can also have done the English psyche no good that the main wicket-taker was the least regarded ofthe trio - Shahid Afridi, who took 5 for 40.

There is no point in panicking about this, and Duncan Fletcher, the side's coach, will not be putting up his arms in surrender to Afridi, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed or anybody else and admitting that it is a fair cop despite the evidence so far. "We've got to think about it," he said, "but I stayed up last night to watch India, very good players spin, play spin against Muralitharan. They struggled. It's no different from saying let's go to England when we have seamers and you play badly and you can't play seam bowling."

Fletcher is attempting to provide a balanced viewpoint, but it was not so much that England lost wickets on a turner at Lahore as the way they did so. Not only were they uncomfortable, they were misguided. The sweep shot is an important option against all spin bowling, played properly, but it is not the only one.

On Friday night under the lights of the Lahore Stadium no England player, save perhaps Andrew Flintoff, regularly tried to hit the ball in front of the wicket with the full face of the bat. It multiplied the risks.

"At times when spin bowlers bowl on spin wickets they're going to dominate the game," said Fletcher, "and whoever plays it is going to have a problem. That doesn't alter the fact that we have got to work on our spin bowling. There's no doubt about it. We don't have enough of it in England on turning wickets so we lack experience."

Fletcher said that when England won the first match in the present one-day series they had played spin well, in the manner they should have played it in the second, disturbing display on Friday. "Sometimes it's probably just the way they want to dominate a spin bowler. It's how they go about trying to dominate, the method you adopt, work them round for ones or try to hit boundaries. Be wary of when and how you do that."

It is a harbinger of doom for the forthcoming Test series and it hardly augurs well for tomorrow's game if the pitch turns, especially if England's craze for the sweep continues to match that of eight-year-old boys for Pokemon cards.

Fletcher invoked India again and especially Tendulkar. "I wanted to see how he did it and the first ball he plays a sweep, second ball a sweep," he said. "There's the best player in the world sweeping, but when England do it we shouldn't be."

The most prominent sweeper, and perhaps its least effective exponent, has been Nasser Hussain, England's captain. He has always played the shot, as Fletcher said, and if he was not playing it well at present then should a good cover driver who starts nicking a few cut out the cover drive?

England will probably select the same side in view of their shortage of other options. None of the remaining members of the squad is likely to provide a significant extra advantage. The batting order, too, will remain the same.

Fletcher may be aware of accusations of inflexibility but was emphatic: "We've got a situation where guys don't really know how to play the roles they've got. Suddenly we're saying let's mess the batting order around. They must know what their roles are, hopefully with a static side. When they're confident that's when we can say, 'right, let's move the batting order around.' "

Tomorrow may be too early for that and thus it may be too late for England. They would probably prefer to bat second as that seems to make for the better conditions. The dew is making life difficult for bowlers and bringing forward the start to noon to make it a day-twilight match has not eradicated that. Equally, England know that Pakistan are shaky chasers and that a target of above 250 might be beyond them.

Hussain is regularly saying that they should not overreact to either victory or defeat. The trick now will be to garner confidence from last Tuesday's exhilarating win and to ignore the lowering in morale doubtless infused by Friday's loss. Pakistan will still start as favourites.

After Monday, the squad begin to prepare for the Tests, staying on in Rawalpindi for a four-day match. The Test squad only members, who have already arrived, will all probably play. It will be good to see the Michaels, Atherton and Vaughan, in English colours again.

But spin is the order of the day here now and Ian Salisbury, England's only leg-spinner, will quickly come under the microscope. At least he has had success in Pakistan before. Whatever England do now, they must not sweep spin under the carpet.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
film
Sport
football
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker