May 12, 2001

Gooch backs England bowlers


Former England great, Graham Gooch, has echoed the words of David Graveney and suggested that the key to the series between England and Pakistan could be the inexperience of the tourists' batsmen on seaming pitches.

 Graham Gooch
Graham Gooch
Photo © CricInfo

Gooch believes that England's seam attack, led by Caddick and Gough, should prove too hot to handle for a Pakistan batting line-up unaccustomed to the extra movement often available to the bowlers on the green English pitches. He pointed to the example of last summer's visitors, the West Indies, to illustrate his point that the English attack is adept at exploiting any help in the conditions, or inadequacies of technique.

"Not many of their batsmen, if any, have played here regularly and that should be an advantage to us, just as it was last year against the West Indies," reasoned Gooch. "Unlike previous years with the West Indies, only a couple had any real experience of playing in English conditions and that showed during the series.

"If our bowlers bowl well in English conditions we could cause some of the Pakistan batsmen problems because the ball is likely to swing and seam around."

However, Gooch conceded that the Pakistan bowling attack contained a great deal of experience and that the English batsmen may have to be in their best form to withstand it.

"There is quite a contrast in Pakistan's line-up with a superbly experienced bowling attack in this country, but their batsman are quite the opposite," he admitted.

"If their bowlers click and are talking to each other, they could do a lot of damage and they also have two superb all-rounders in Abdur Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood."

Gooch also expressed doubts that rumours of disharmony within the Pakistan squad would have any impression on the series: "They are noted for being unpredictable and they could still easily upset things. There are rumours of their demise but they are usually at their most dangerous when they are fighting among themselves."

So far Pakistan seem to be the team with all the problems. Shoaib Akhtar is far from fully fit, Yousuf Youhana is out of form and the relationship between senior players Wasim Akram and captain Waqar Younis appears strained.

In contrast, Andy Caddick has just completed a ten-wicket game for Somerset and there have been runs aplenty for Marcus Trescothick and Graham Thorpe, but Gooch warned against any feelings of complacency within the English squad.

"Pakistan have some extremely talented cricketers," he said. "They've not always played as a unit but when they do, they are more than capable of going out and beating any side in the world."