Pathetic England thrashed by Pakistan at Lord’s to show structural change needed sooner rather than later

Structural change is probably needed again after this nine-wicket defeat in the opening Test of the summer offered the clearest sign yet that this is a team in terminal decline

England were comprehensively thrashed by Pakistan
England were comprehensively thrashed by Pakistan

England sunk to the bottom of the world rankings when they lost a home Test series to New Zealand back in 1999. This team led by Joe Root can now be classified as the worst one since after this pathetic defeat to Pakistan in little over three days at Lord’s.

Radical action was taken to arrest England’s decline 19 years ago – central contracts came in and slowly but surely results changed for the better.

Structural change is probably needed again after this nine-wicket defeat in the opening Test of the summer offered the clearest sign yet that this is a team in terminal decline.

A winter that saw England extend their winless run overseas to a record 13 Tests following series defeats in Australia and New Zealand was cause for alarm.

England were dismal in their defeat by Pakistan

Home comforts were meant to assuage those fears, especially against a young Pakistan team weakened by retirements to key players in former captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.

Instead Root’s team slipped to a seventh defeat in ten Tests – a horror run by anyone’s standards.

Pakistan, who chased down their target of 64 32 minutes before lunch, deserve immense credit for a performance so dominant that is can be classed as one of the best by any overseas team in England in recent times.

However, they were helped by opponents so weak, unfocussed and sloppy that they should be embarrassed to call themselves Test players.

There were some exceptions, notably James Anderson, who despite his advancing years is still consistently dangerous, and Dom Bess, who marked his debut with a fine half-century in England’s second-innings.

Jos Buttler, too, justified his recall with an innings of 67 during his 126-run seventh-wicket stand with 20-year-old Bess.

As a collective, though, this was a performance so bad it led to only the third home defeat by England in May in 140 years and their first-ever in this month at Lord’s.

Dom Bess can hold his head up high

Changes will surely be made for next week’s second and final Test at Headingley. Opener Mark Stoneman is surely in danger of being dropped given a run of form that has yet to see him reach 30 in any innings this summer. It should be no surprise then that he returned scores of four and nine in this match.

Nick Gubbins of Middlesex or Keaton Jennings may well come in. However, given England have tried 14 players in their top seven already over the past 18 months, it’s debatable whether axing Stoneman will actually lead to any actual improvement in the team’s performance.

Bigger changes probably need to be made – perhaps stripping Root of the captaincy given how badly things are going right now? He’s obviously not the leader who can drag this team out of their stupor. But who is? Anderson? Buttler, a specialist captain at No7 anyone?

England might well recall both Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali for Headingley. Experience might make a difference if England are to prevent Pakistan winning their first Test series here since 1996.

Pakistan more than deserved their crushing win

Whatever happens there is no glossing over the shambolic and embarrassing performance here.

England had slim hopes of making this match interesting at the start of the fourth day following the unbroken 125-run seventh-wicket stand between Buttler and Bess that had given them a 56-run lead.

They didn’t following the loss of their final four wickets for seven runs in just 25 balls. Yet another collapse.

Buttler was the first to go, trapped lbw by Mohammad Abbas, to leave England seven wickets down having added one run to their overnight total.

Mark Wood was next, prodding Mohammad Amir behind. Stuart Broad followed for a duck in identical fashion, only this time the bowler was Abbas.

Bess was the final England wicket to fall, Amir claiming his fourth of the innings by emphatically bowling the youngster.

Stuart Broad went for a duck

Pakistan had taken just 27 minutes to wrap the innings up and with such a small target to win this mismatch was always destined to finish inside the first session of this fourth day.

Anderson at least bowled Azhar Ali with a beautiful delivery to leave Pakistan 12-1 early in their chase.

But the result was never in doubt, with Haris Sohail and Imam-ul-Haq knocking off the 52 more runs required with consummate ease.

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