One bad day, but a lot more good ones ahead

There is a hard time ahead for England. Pakistan are one of the best sides in the world at any form of the game, most of our players are unfamiliar with the conditions, we are still emerging as a side.

There is a hard time ahead for England. Pakistan are one of the best sides in the world at any form of the game, most of our players are unfamiliar with the conditions, we are still emerging as a side.

But let nobody doubt the improvement. We land in Karachi tomorrow absolutely intent on making some points. There is a huge element of goodwill to this tour, the first undertaken by a full England side since 1987. We are aware of what has happened before, and that it should not happen again. We haven't dwelt on this, but it is an aspect that will not be forgotten.

To win, England will have to play at the top of their game. But make no mistake, we are a side who have made strides forward, who believe we can go places.

That fact has not been diminished by the loss to South Africa in the quarter-finals of the ICC Knockout in Nairobi last week. There might have been a temptation among some observers to write us off, to suggest that it eradicated the importance of the victories in the summer. Nonsense.

True, there is no point here in defending England's performance. We were poor, we deserved what we got, which was speedy elimination from the second most important one-day tournament. No second chance, no excuses.

Four or five batsmen hit balls straight to fielders, which is unimaginable and unrepeatable. Faced with defending a meagre total of 182 when we probably required a minimum of 240, we had to take early wickets, and lots of them. We failed to do so. I bowled at 87mph, as fast as I can, in an attempt to dislodge batsmen. It didn't work. The pitch was having none of it.

It is a truism of one-day cricket that there are three ways to go: you win big, you lose big or the whole affair is nerve-tinglingly tight. Personally, from the point of view of a steady heartbeat I prefer either of the first two. England on Tuesday went the second way. It didn't need to be said in the dressing-room afterwards, and wasn't. We were awful and we knew it.

Elimination, however, does not call for another session of national hand-wringing or of belittling this side. We have made progress, we are a tighter unit. It was, therefore, welcome news to learn that our coach, Duncan Fletcher, had been given an extension to his contract together with Phil Neale, the operations manager, Dean Conway, the physiotherapist, and Nigel Stockill, the physiologist.

The set-up led by Fletcher is outstanding. Things run smoothly, the players feel they are allowed an input because that is precisely what happens. It is up to us to respond to that, and I feel sure we shall. The faith shown in Fletcher et al is conclusive evidence that the England and Wales Cricket Board do not get everything wrong, so there.

There cannot be too many exhibitions like that in the Gymkhana Stadium, but it did not undo all the good work that had gone before. The victories against Zimbabwe and West Indies last summer counted for a lot, but we know we have to build on them now. Incidentally, maybe it should not be forgotten that South Africa are a an extremely strong,efficient side.

All right, all right, I hear you cry, they're not unbeatable. Look what India did to them. Enough for now. We have to adjust quickly to the climate, pitches and way of life in Pakistan and to do our ambassadorial bit. The anticipation is as great as at the start of any tour, maybe greater because of the length of time since we last went there.

I am writing these words in Nairobi, where the past couple of days without immediate competitive cricket have allowed us more free time than we might have liked. In the event I had to take it easy. A cut on one of the toes on my left foot has turned slightly septic. It is sore, especially when it lands in the delivery stride. But it's the age-old fact: there is always something dodgy somewhere on a seam bowler's body.

A group of players went to the Seychelles and most of us visited the nearby elephant orphanage. The team sponsors, Vodafone, have adopted an elephant and some of us are doing likewise. Darren Gough decided to opt instead for a rhinoceros as part of his benefit year in 2001.

You will know, of course, that one of Goughy's nicknames, though recently acquired, is Rhino, and while it is not yet of common currency - he will always be Goughy - the man himself has rather taken to it. You may also remember Goughy's reasoning for why he was labelled with Rhino, but it bears repeating. "It's because," he said, "I'm as strong as an ox."

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
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence