Chris Airey takes a look at the newspaper reaction to England’s comprehensive first Test defeat in Dubai that saw the world’s No.1 Test side humbled by 10 wickets.
England’s dismal batting
England supporters have enjoyed an 18-month period in which English blades dispatched red leather time and time again with ease, but in Dubai a sorry looking batting line-up were humiliated by a fast-improving Pakistan side.
“Jonathan Trott’s 49 showed that batting wasn’t impossible, but the fact that Graeme Swann’s swashbuckling 39 were as many runs as Strauss, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell managed in the match tells the story. Their shot selection was poor, the worst example being Pietersen’s top edged hook to deep square leg when the trap had been set and his team was in trouble.”
“Graham Gooch, the England batting coach, must be tearing his hair out (metaphorically, at least).
How is it that among the specialists only one, Jonathan Trott, suggested anything approaching serenity at the crease while the rest were hopping around like cats on hot tin roofs? … Moreover Pietersen attracts criticism as cameras do C-list celebrities, a group he is in danger of joining unless he scores some runs.”
Failure to deal with Saeed Ajmal
On a pitch that offered minimal purchase, the England batsmen simply self-destructed in the face of Saeed Ajmal’s barrage of offbreaks, doosras – and, very rarely, the odd teesra – as Pakistan’s mischievous spinner dominated day one.
“England’s batsmen were sucked into the spinner’s web as Saeed Ajmal toyed with their techniques and messed with their minds. Forget for a moment all the talk about Ajmal’s action, this was a masterpiece of cunning and the spin bowler’s art. He blew the tourists apart.”
“Maybe the England batsmen had been suckered by all the talk of his teesra. But surely the top team in the world cannot be that naive? Neither Bishen Bedi, nor Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, nor Abdul Qadir, nor Muttiah Muralitharan, nor Shane Warne had caused England’s best batsmen such embarrassment on a surface as harmless as an empty pincushion.”
Umar Gul terrorises England’s top-order
England were memorised by Pakistan’s twirlers in the first innings, but any suggestion that the seamers couldn’t get anything out the pitch were written off as nonsense as Umar Gul paved the way for victory within three days.
“The amazing thing was that England’s top-order collapse was even more inexcusable than their first. They were not bamboozled by the subtlety of Saeed Ajmal and his fellow-spinners, but bounced out by Umar Gul – bounced out on a slow pitch in the desert.”
Confusion over Hotspot
Day three saw some more DRS-related intrigue: third umpire Steve Davis was unable to overturn decisions against Saeed Ajmal (who definitely didn’t hit his) and Andrew Strauss (who probably didn’t) because Hotspot was either unavailable or inconclusive. Strauss looked about as cross as he gets.
“Everybody got hot under the collar about the DRS and you have to accept that the technology is not 100 per cent. Andrew Strauss took 10 seconds to decide to review his, so he wasn’t sure. Hotspot was inconclusive but there was a big noise. That’s what TV umpire Steve Davis went on.”
“Hotspot failed to pick up any impact on the bat, but Steve Davis decided there was not enough evidence to overrule the original decision… Strauss’s decision followed similar confusion over the wicket of Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, he referred the decision but it was upheld because the batsman was out of the television frame, meaning there was no Hotspot evidence to save him even though the replays looked to show he did not lay bat on ball.”
Read AOC editor Phil Walker on the plight of the solo English spinner in this week’s The Grubber