England v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Chester-le-Street September 9, 2010

Battered Pakistan search for inspiration

The Preview by Liam Brickhill

Match facts

September 10, 2010, Chester-le-Street
Start time 10.15am (9.15am GMT)

Big picture

It's September, but with five one-day internationals still to be played the end of the English summer continues to appear some distance off. This is not the finale that anyone had planned with Pakistan exhibiting the malaise and confusion it was feared they would when the spot-fixing allegations that have rocked cricket's very foundations were first brought to light.

Appearing distracted and mentally unprepared, they were easily swept away by England in the short Twenty20 series in Cardiff and the autumnal end of what has been densely-packed summer is threatening to turn into a one-sided farce. A Pakistan team that includes the likes of Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal and Shoaib Akhtar can never be totally written off, however, and England will still, surely, be wary of a backlash.

But the scent of scandal hanging over the team will not dissipate any time soon, and though captain Afridi has suggested that just one victory would do wonders for the team's morale it's difficult to see how they could turn things round and regain their focus sufficiently to take this series the full distance.

England probably wouldn't mind a stiffer challenge to prepare them for a winter in Australia and, despite the notable run of their success, they still have questions to be answered and flaws to be ironed out. It is England's batsmen, rather than the bowlers, that appear a touch unsettled, and there will be another shake-up as the squad switches to one-day mode and and Andrew Strauss returns to the helm.

With dwindling crowds also a concern as the summer draws in, interested parties from across the spectrum want nothing more than a competitive and absorbing contest. Whether that will be the case remains to be seen.

Form guide (last five completed matches)

England WLWLL
Pakistan WLLLL

Watch out for...

In the course of the two Twenty20s in Cardiff, Michael Yardy appeared to come of age as an international cricketer. The effectiveness of his bowling in limited-overs cricket has not been in doubt since his recall, but his batting - which he insists is his stronger suit - is also becoming increasingly reliable. He was at the crease with Eoin Morgan when victory was secured in both games, and is well on his way to becoming a genuine international allrounder.

For a player who has not yet been selected for the national side gigantic left-arm seamer Mohammad Irfan has already built up quite a following, aided by the spread of videos of his bowling online on sites such as Youtube. Although his exact height has not yet been verified, he is undoubtedly very tall indeed and the awkward bounce he will generate - allied to the left-arm trajectory - could prove challenging for an England line-up that is not quite firing on all cylinders.

Team news

England's squad has, for obvious reasons, been by far the more settled during Pakistan's visit but Kevin Pietersen's absence, and Steve Davies' introduction, has mixed things up a bit. Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott also return to the side for the one-dayers and with Ravi Bopara likely to keep his place it may be Luke Wright who is edged out for the time being.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Steve Davies (wk), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Michael Yardy, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

There is always a measure of uncertainty in picking Pakistan's squad but apart from the introduction of Irfan, who was called up in the midst of a glut of injuries that added to their woes in an already turbulent summer, there probably won't be too many changes. Asad Shafiq is likely to remain a reserve batsman, and while Fawad Alam froze under pressure in the Twenty20s, he showed in Pakistan's warm-up against Somerset that, given time at the crease, he can be an effective limited-overs batsman and will probably be retained. Given his greater experience at the top of the order, Mohammad Hafeez could also be preferred to Shahzaib Hasan.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Mohammad Yousuf, 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Shahid Afridi (capt), 6 Fawad Alam, 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Umar Gul, 9 Mohammad Irfan, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Shoaib Akhtar.

Pitch and conditions

Expect the bowlers to dominate in helpful conditions in Durham. The last match to be played at Chester-le-Street was a low-scoring CB 40 match in which both spinners and seamers picked up wickets. Overcast conditions could also help the ball to swing but, thankfully, rain is unlikely.

Stats and Trivia

  • The vastly experienced Mohammad Yousuf is Pakistan's second-highest runscorer in ODIs behind Inzamam ul-Haq with 9458 runs. He is also second to another great - Saeed Anwar - in the list of Pakistan's one-day century makers with 15 in 275 games to Anwar's 20.

  • Graeme Swann passed 50 wickets in the summer - across all formats - during the Cardiff Twenty20s and now has 52 international scalps at a combined average of 16.46 this season


"Despite whatever allegations have been out there, I still maintain that cricket generally is a very clean sport and that two teams are playing to beat the other 100%. If I can allay fears, I think there is no chance in my mind that these games coming up will not be played in that spirit."
Despite further allegations in the spot-fixing scandal, Andrew Strauss remains confident for cricket's future

"Unless he's dropped, he will play. If I'm told, 'Don't play X, Y, Z,' they won't play. If I'm not told, I'll select the best team. But I've not been told anything. Let's wait."
Pakistan's manager Yawar Seed says fast bowler Wahab Riaz, who will be questioned by Scotland Yard, isn't out of contention for selection.

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vinod on September 10, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    Well till the time Pakistan gets quality players as they had in 90s, it would be naive on part of anyone to hope Pakistan winning a series. 4 out of 10 times, they have been shot out for less than 100 against England this summer. Out of the last 9 test matches that Pakistan played, they have a combined 1 century to their credit (Salman Butt in Australia). Their bowling was good previosly, but now then Asif and Aamir back in hut, their bowling seems no different from their batting and fielding units. So, it is too irritating to read comments from Pakistan supporters regarding who all should play a particular game to get Pakistan a victory (Pakistan has tried no less than 30 players in past 18 months in Tests and ODIs combinedly), but to no avail. So, my advice to you would be to leave these Permutations and Combinations of players who cannot bat, cannot field and now (after Asif and Aamir fiasco) cannot bowl. Just pray that they get quality players as was the case in 90s. Vinod

  • A on September 10, 2010, 7:37 GMT

    GreenCrazy : "What happened to my favourite team???? It is too bad :( . Fans are suffering with losses.. but they get money and give up the game :( . What a disaster is this?"

    -- The flood and the earthquake were natural disasters...brought on by nature. This one is a 'character disaster'. Individual characters failed to control their greed, just like the 'thailay vala' (vegetable seller) does when he gets a chance to cheat. The level of corruption is directly proportional to the opportunity to be corrupt, if you choose to go down that road. And thus character failures lead to a disillusioned fan base, a ruined and tainted career and then eventual forgiveness by the fans because they have such short memories as a nation. Just look at Monsieur 'Das' Percent...he has been given so many 'lives' by the Pakistani nation that he is Monsieur Hundred Percent now...it all reflects in the sport as well, it had to.

  • mustafa on September 10, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Please Pakistan win the toss and field first

  • mustafa on September 10, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    Please someone tell our captain that if he wins the toss Pakistan should field first. Restrict England and then chase. No consideration is given to the ground record Pakistan always wants to bat first. Allah knows why? Salman butt's boys chased two targets to win two test matches this summer but Shahid bhai seems to have no confidence in his batsman. 9 out of 12 times teams batting second have won the match

  • syed on September 10, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    i absoutely agree wid neo2k, i think dis is high time now, we must get rid of kamran akmal now, get any one else but not kamran akmal,

  • arshad on September 10, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Irfan is must watch. Asad Shafiq must replace Fawad Alam and hope for best... Come ON PAKISTAN....You can do it.....

  • Dummy4 on September 10, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    All the best Pakistan

    Still the young pakistanis are best and little controversies can be held.

    Leave back the past and Play like the champs,,

    Welcome Mohammad Irfan to the national team and to Kolkata Knight Riders also.

  • zaheer on September 10, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    Fawad Alam,,,,,wow,,,,,,good for nothing,,, but always in the team,,,,,,,and the players like Imran Nazir always out for the same reason OUT OF FORM...... May be Fawad Alam got some good relation with the selectors or hes from the rich family to finance the pakistani board................

  • Fadzai on September 10, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    @Usman Hayee Awan...please leave Shoaib Akhter alone. He is certainly very handsome so why shouldn't he show off his good looks...Don't be jealous. And moreover he is so talented. yummy yummy yummy!!!!

  • Ray on September 10, 2010, 5:16 GMT

    Get Rid of K. Akmal..he has always been suspicious..his form is nowhere just wasting a spot..I saw Asad's profile his fielding position stated as wicketkeeper..so there you go replace Kamran with Asad..as for Hafeez..its another sad story why bringing someone who has always been inconsistant...pure waste..I am sure there are plenty of Umar Akmal's calibre out there..PCB need a good scouting committe...well consider how PCB is going nowadays ..wonder if there will be any committees...

    still Pak Zindabad !

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