No signs that batsmen know how to turn tide


By Stephen Brenkley

cricket correspondent


There were no excuses. It is not Andrew Strauss's way. But there were no explanations either. Perhaps it was too soon after such a cataclysmic defeat to offer any that sounded remotely plausible. England had lost by 72 runs a Test they should have won – and with it the series – against Pakistan.

They are 2-0 down with one to play and it would be foolhardy to be confident of the arrears of being reduced in the Third Test starting on Friday. In three innings in this series England's totals have been 72, 192 and 160, in the fourth when it seemed they might achieve redemption it was 327. It has been as inadequate as it has been surprising. Nobody expected this, least of all the men doing the failing.

"We all know that," said Strauss immediately after his seventh Test defeat as England's captain. "We're not going to run away from that, it is disappointing. Individually we've not been clear enough in our gameplans against spin and in our methods of where our scoring areas are. We've allowed pressure to build.

"Each time a wicket falls it makes it harder for the next guy, so as a batting unit we must hold our hands up and say we haven't done well enough. It is pretty clear, there are no excuses. We need to be better than that."

He could not have been clearer in his admission of failure. England have for too long been found wanting against subcontinental opposition away from home. Of the past 19 Test matches, they have won only one and lost nine.

Despite regular protestations that they can and will do better, they have made no discernible progress. In the two matches of this three-match series, Eoin Morgan has made 41 runs, Ian Bell has made 36 and Kevin Pietersen 17. For batsmen with their reputations in the best team in the world, it is far beyond being not good enough.

It seems the stranger as England's coach, Andy Flower, was a highly accomplished player of spin bowling and their batting coach, Graham Gooch, masterful at building innings against anything conveyed in his direction. Gooch went home on the eve of this match. Perhaps he should have stayed, but his absence was not the reason they lost.

"As I said at the start of this tour, this is the final frontier – the subcontinent," said Strauss. "England teams haven't done very well out here in the past. And we came in and approached things pretty positively.

"We felt like we had a great chance to win this series but I think the fact we got rolled over twice in Dubai meant there was some baggage there going into this final innings. Test cricket is hard and it exposes any vulnerability or weaknesses you have."

Under Strauss, England have had a wonderful three years. His tenure started dreadfully when they were bowled out for 51 by West Indies in Jamaica in January 2009 but slowly, inexorably, he and Flower shaped a side to become No 1 in the world. It is a title they still hold, though South Africa, if they beat New Zealand 3-0 in March, could usurp them. England could lose $175,000 (£111,000) at the cut-off point of1 April, but the loss of the money won't count as much as the blow to their dreams and aspirations.

England have two more away Test series against subcontinental opposition this year. A weak Sri Lanka await in the spring and a battered India in the autumn. Nobody would give England a prayer on their present form.

"I think in these conditions in these parts of the world if you get runs early in the tour it makes life a lot easier for you," said Strauss. "There is no substitute for time in the middle. We are all picked to go out there and score runs and we haven't done that as well as we should have done."

England have still lost only two series under the Strauss-Flower partnership, starting in West Indies, when they lost their first match after being bowled out for that 51 in Kingston. "Jamaica was a very different set of circumstances," said Strauss. "I'd struggle to think of a result, or a loss, that's hurt more than this."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam