Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai February 2, 2012

Bell fit as England look to restore confidence

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Andrew Strauss has warned his England teammates they are playing for their places in the final Test of the series against Pakistan in Dubai.

Pakistan have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series, with several England batsmen enduring miserable tours. Strauss (17), Eoin Morgan (10.25), Ian Bell (9) and Kevin Pietersen (4.25) are all averaging under 20 in the two Tests and have been largely at fault as England's batting has struggled in three of the four innings.

"You can't keep underperforming forever," Strauss said. "All of us have a responsibility to improve our games. I'm a strong believer that no-one is guaranteed their place in the England side. The environment only works if there is pressure on your for your place, so we all have to work very hard for the next five days."

Despite Strauss' words, it is far from certain that England will make any changes for this game. While there is a temptation to bring in Ravi Bopara for Eoin Morgan - Bopara's medium-pace bowling gives the Essex player an edge in that regard - the England management have invested a lot of time and faith in Morgan. The continuity of selection policy has served them well and they are loathe to drop a player they feel has the character to flourish at this level. Morgan did make a Test century against India only four Tests ago and the management signalled their liking for him by appointing him vice-captain of the T20 side. Similarly, England are not about to forget about the excellent months that Pietersen and Bell enjoyed before this tour.

They are no further injury concerns in the England squad. Bell had recovered sufficiently from his stomach trouble to resume training on Thursday and nobody else in the squad has contracted the illness.

Back in England, Chris Tremlett could be set for three months on the sidelines after seeing a specialist and being told he needs surgery. He tweeted: "Scans reveal a bulging disc and may require a little clean up. Hopefully back playing mid to end of April."

Strauss denied there was any tension within the England squad about players appearing in the IPL, though he did admit there was a balance to find to ensure the team enjoyed the best preparation ahead of the series against West Indies. "We've become very comfortable with the fact the ICC have given our players a window to play in the IPL and that window stipulates those games have to have enough time to prepare properly for our next Test series," Strauss said. "We all know where we stand. I certainly won't stand in the way of players who want to play. But, with my Test captain's hat on, I want to make sure they have enough time to prepare for the West Indies Tests next summer. We're all comfortable with that."

The series may have been decided, but England retain plenty of motivation going into this game. For a start, they are "desperate" in Andrew Strauss' words, to avoid the humiliation of a 3-0 whitewash. They have not suffered such an indignity since the 2006-07 Ashes and, before that, the 1992-93 series in India. Such a result here would feel like a particular humiliation for the top-ranked side.

In 2010, when Pakistan was tarnished by the corruption scandal few would have suggested that, less than two years later, Misbah would be the man at the helm of a resurgent Test side

They are also keen to denounce their poor record in Asia. Excluding Tests against Bangladesh, England have won just one of their last 19 Tests in Asia and that was back in March 2006, when they defeated India in Mumbai. If England are to travel to Sri Lanka with any realistic confidence, they need to show some signs of improvement. While they could point to the first three innings of the Abu Dhabi Test as evidence of progress, the manner in which the game finished - England spun away for just 72 - superseded the earlier positive signs.

Pakistan, by contrast, approach this game in good spirits. They are aiming to complete just the fifth series clean-sweep (three matches or more) in their history and their first against England. It would also be the first time they have done so outside Pakistan. They have one selection decision to make - Aizaz Cheema and Wahab Riaz are both vying for the second seamer's spot that was filled by Junaid Khan in Abu Dhabi - but go into this Test looking as settled and calm as any Pakistan team in many years.

Perhaps their most remarkable achievement in this series has been exorcising the ghost of spot-fixing. Almost anyway. While talk of the subject has slowly ebbed away over the last few weeks, the release of Mohammad Amir from prison on Wednesday prompted renewed interest. Misbah-ul-Haq, typically, blocked any questions on the issue with the straightest of bats, stating that: "Such incidents are always sad, but you cannot do anything about it." Strauss, in similar mood, was also reluctant to be drawn on the issue but did suggest that "the deterrent should be very strong to stop these guys doing this again."

Misbah was happier talking about the causes of Pakistan's success, crediting a strong team spirit and continuity of selection as the key factors. "If you look two years back, you can say it was an inexperienced side with a lot of young players," he said. "Now they have played almost two years, getting experience, getting mature and gelling well in the team. Everybody knows each other well, understands the game and their responsibilities and what he has to do for the team. That's the main thing for improvement in Pakistan cricket. As you play together and you keep playing against good sides you improve."

Victory in this Test would complete a remarkable rehabilitation for Misbah and his side. In 2010, when Pakistan cricket was tarnished by the corruption scandal and Misbah was omitted from a 35-man preliminary squad, few would have suggested that, less than two years later, he would be the man at the helm of a resurgent Test side. But now on the eve of the final Test of the series, few would doubt his team's ability to complete the clean sweep.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | February 4, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    @JG2704 :- "with only 2 seam bowlers is risk of overloading the work on Anderson/Broad which could lead to injury or burnout"... Yes & with a heavy schedule this year & 2 series on flat decks, losing either bowler could be decisive to a series on the SC let alone SA in Eng... Good to hear that Bresnan in back bowling in the nets... Ryan Harris did well in SL last year but broke down - we were lucky to win that series & draw in SA...

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @Nutcutlet on (February 02 2012, 14:15 PM GMT) I feel England are ok about dropping bowlers but not so big about dropping batsmen. Take the last Ashes tour when they dropped Finn who I believe was at the time the leading wicket taker in the series. By dropping Morgan for Finn they'd be changing the formation and therefore would not have to worry so much about hurting Morgan's feelings whereas dropping Morgan for Bopara in a like for like move might. I'm sure Miller pre tour said he'd play 5 bowlers if the circumstances were suitable. Seems like a load of BS to me.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @the_blue_android on (February 02 2012, 17:52 PM GMT) You're right. We never stop playing tests in Australia and SA

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @Peterincanada on (February 02 2012, 18:12 PM GMT) - I'm sure you like the sound of what you are saying , but re Australia. Would you care to look up their record for the 1st 6 years (95-2001) of being nr1 (or even 1st 3 years) and compare it to England's record to date and work out the win ratio etc? Of course you could airbrush the 4 series defeats in that period in the SC (1 vs SL and 3 vs India)

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @cricket_fan_1980 on (February 03 2012, 02:50 AM GMT) You are right. However they have been playing in UAE for long enough to call it home in terms of the familiarity they have with the conditions etc. All credit to them though , I believe they've raised their game quite considerably

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (February 03 2012, 03:06 AM GMT) Agree. During the 2010/11 Ashes series , Finn was dropped - despite I think being the leading wicket taker at the time. I just wonder if the management feel that bowlers can almost switch their form on and off at any time ? I see they are playing the same team again which could be seen as showing faith to the batsmen they have out there. I see it as not being proactive and they should have tried a 5 man bowling attack. There is nothing to say they can't change it back to 6/1/4 at any point. The other possibility with only 2 seam bowlers is risk of overloading the work on Anderson/Broad which could lead to injury or burnout. I know our seam dept is our best asset , but lose either of these on top of CT and TB and we're suddenly looking much thinner in that dept too

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | February 3, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    @buggsy . keep dreaming mate , during aus tour of sl , dilshan was captain( & he doesn't know how to captain a team 3rd odi b/w sl & sa was primary example where he didn't even know about d/l rule ) & aus players like hussey , clarke , ponting are good players of spin .does your eng have anybody except trott who can play spin bowling . we see in india in odis how good are you kp , bell against spinners (even ravindra jadeja a part time bowler was troubling them) , sl have herath , mendis , randiv who can bamboozle english batting .also about our india don't worry , indian plan is simple . bat first make 500+(which we can make in indian tracks) & destroy oppsition on turning 4th & 5th day pitch .

  • POSTED BY U_Cricket on | February 3, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    @5wombats - u need some reality . Let's see if we can make some helpful changes to take into account England real performance huh... 1 win out of 19 test matches in Asia I mean oneeeeee. Do I need to remind u one say performance. 3 whitewash in Asia two back to back by india and one by SL and lost to Ireland and Bangladesh in WC. This says everything.

  • POSTED BY salman_ak on | February 3, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    @subbass, Dear friend get your records straight, Pakistan did a lot better in English conditions. First they played a home series against Australia in England which they managed to draw 1-1, then they lost to England 3-1 and 3-2 in odi's. Pakistan drew the test series against Kiwis and won the odi series against them. Pakistan did a far better job than so called world champions. Pakistan has come out of many hardships and performing like a tiger. I know its a bitter pill to swallow but at least be honest in your comments.

  • POSTED BY on | February 3, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    @Subass.for your kind information..its not our home where we are playing right now.England got a support from yhe crowd aswell. Playing abroad has became out habbit now.your team team is number one but cant play spin?come on..this is not the excuse.no.1 team can win anywhere against any team. Time will tell us if what going to happen if we go england..remember we are not home tigers.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | February 4, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    @JG2704 :- "with only 2 seam bowlers is risk of overloading the work on Anderson/Broad which could lead to injury or burnout"... Yes & with a heavy schedule this year & 2 series on flat decks, losing either bowler could be decisive to a series on the SC let alone SA in Eng... Good to hear that Bresnan in back bowling in the nets... Ryan Harris did well in SL last year but broke down - we were lucky to win that series & draw in SA...

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @Nutcutlet on (February 02 2012, 14:15 PM GMT) I feel England are ok about dropping bowlers but not so big about dropping batsmen. Take the last Ashes tour when they dropped Finn who I believe was at the time the leading wicket taker in the series. By dropping Morgan for Finn they'd be changing the formation and therefore would not have to worry so much about hurting Morgan's feelings whereas dropping Morgan for Bopara in a like for like move might. I'm sure Miller pre tour said he'd play 5 bowlers if the circumstances were suitable. Seems like a load of BS to me.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @the_blue_android on (February 02 2012, 17:52 PM GMT) You're right. We never stop playing tests in Australia and SA

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @Peterincanada on (February 02 2012, 18:12 PM GMT) - I'm sure you like the sound of what you are saying , but re Australia. Would you care to look up their record for the 1st 6 years (95-2001) of being nr1 (or even 1st 3 years) and compare it to England's record to date and work out the win ratio etc? Of course you could airbrush the 4 series defeats in that period in the SC (1 vs SL and 3 vs India)

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @cricket_fan_1980 on (February 03 2012, 02:50 AM GMT) You are right. However they have been playing in UAE for long enough to call it home in terms of the familiarity they have with the conditions etc. All credit to them though , I believe they've raised their game quite considerably

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | February 3, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (February 03 2012, 03:06 AM GMT) Agree. During the 2010/11 Ashes series , Finn was dropped - despite I think being the leading wicket taker at the time. I just wonder if the management feel that bowlers can almost switch their form on and off at any time ? I see they are playing the same team again which could be seen as showing faith to the batsmen they have out there. I see it as not being proactive and they should have tried a 5 man bowling attack. There is nothing to say they can't change it back to 6/1/4 at any point. The other possibility with only 2 seam bowlers is risk of overloading the work on Anderson/Broad which could lead to injury or burnout. I know our seam dept is our best asset , but lose either of these on top of CT and TB and we're suddenly looking much thinner in that dept too

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | February 3, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    @buggsy . keep dreaming mate , during aus tour of sl , dilshan was captain( & he doesn't know how to captain a team 3rd odi b/w sl & sa was primary example where he didn't even know about d/l rule ) & aus players like hussey , clarke , ponting are good players of spin .does your eng have anybody except trott who can play spin bowling . we see in india in odis how good are you kp , bell against spinners (even ravindra jadeja a part time bowler was troubling them) , sl have herath , mendis , randiv who can bamboozle english batting .also about our india don't worry , indian plan is simple . bat first make 500+(which we can make in indian tracks) & destroy oppsition on turning 4th & 5th day pitch .

  • POSTED BY U_Cricket on | February 3, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    @5wombats - u need some reality . Let's see if we can make some helpful changes to take into account England real performance huh... 1 win out of 19 test matches in Asia I mean oneeeeee. Do I need to remind u one say performance. 3 whitewash in Asia two back to back by india and one by SL and lost to Ireland and Bangladesh in WC. This says everything.

  • POSTED BY salman_ak on | February 3, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    @subbass, Dear friend get your records straight, Pakistan did a lot better in English conditions. First they played a home series against Australia in England which they managed to draw 1-1, then they lost to England 3-1 and 3-2 in odi's. Pakistan drew the test series against Kiwis and won the odi series against them. Pakistan did a far better job than so called world champions. Pakistan has come out of many hardships and performing like a tiger. I know its a bitter pill to swallow but at least be honest in your comments.

  • POSTED BY on | February 3, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    @Subass.for your kind information..its not our home where we are playing right now.England got a support from yhe crowd aswell. Playing abroad has became out habbit now.your team team is number one but cant play spin?come on..this is not the excuse.no.1 team can win anywhere against any team. Time will tell us if what going to happen if we go england..remember we are not home tigers.

  • POSTED BY ihaq1 on | February 3, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    i think england have not brought any spare batsmen as they are unable to even think of playing bopara and davies...strauss has been failing all thru 2011...piterson has been losing out due to a strange style of play while eoin morgan is probably living on past performances..having played well in teh start of his career but he too is failing...i would probably open with trott and bring in kevin and eoin at two and three than bell and strauss to stabilize teh innings...one feels that probably they should have brought one of alex hale, bairstow and kieswetter..bopara has always been a stopgap playing well only occasionally but still surviving...they should drop teh failures for the remaining series and pick some good juniors

  • POSTED BY Cut-Shot on | February 3, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    GO PAKISTAN GO!!!!!!We need a whitewash.a very good chance to put slap on english media and its team and to show ourlead in cicket!!gud luck SAEED AJMAL.they are pshycologically trapped in ur nest!!!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | February 3, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    @landl47 : This is where they missed Bresnan.. Bresnan is a stout batsman who refuses to give away his wicket most times.. He puts more value to wicket than Bopara or Morgan who i expected to perform better in tests against spin as he was really good in limited overs format in the middle overs where spinners bowl.. May be, Ajmal and Rehman are too hot to handle and Hafeez too is very good against lefties.. The best positive for England is Broad.. He is proving to be a good bowler in all conditions.. Apart from him, Trott and Cook handling spin better than they were before.. I did expect England to close out the second test.. They for some unknown reason got bogged down very much.. KP is the man who can attack spin but left spin is proving to be too good against him.. Will Engalnd try Broad or Prior up the order when spinners bowl? They are the best players of spin in the couple of matches so far..

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | February 3, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    @5wombats : Real world? The whole world is real mate.. Where England playing now and dominating is also a real world!!

  • POSTED BY SamRoy on | February 3, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    @bob_martin Well England should play Bairstow especially in SL and India. What a great player of spin bowling! Haven't seen any one better! Makes Ravindra Jadeja look like Shane Warne.

  • POSTED BY PACEGUY on | February 3, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    Pleez Cricinfo Post as its positive MESSAGE What I Persoanlly recommend is that Pakistan enter the third test with Wahab Riaz as the leading strike bowler and England might as well open up with Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott and as for Kevin Pietersen he really needs to up his game and open up a bit more and get his head around because England r on an adventure as they r bound to face very tough teams which include India, Sri Lanka, South Africa etc who are now starving for a nummber one rank as a test side more than yesterday despite England playing RSA at home they r still gonna hav one of the most bumpy rides of their lives because Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel alone singlehandedly can help South Africa whitewash England. But as a Pakistani Supporter I wish my home team the very best of luck and I really do pray to Almighty God that they tackle every hardship with an iron fist. I wish The Best Of LUCK to all the International Community for the overall well-being THANK YOU

  • POSTED BY SamRoy on | February 3, 2012, 4:19 GMT

    Well @Front-Foot-Lunge, England certainly has conquered SA. If I remember correctly lost 2-1 at home against them in 2008 and narrowly escaped at 3-1 hammering away in SA because of tremendous defending by No. 11 Onions and Collingwood. Destroying a declining Aus team and a grand-daddy filled Indian team is no great achievement. Good achievement certainly, but nothing great. SA may not be consistent but they can put on a fight against anyone in any condition.

  • POSTED BY on | February 3, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    v pakistanis are enjoying our game nd not worrying about winning or losing...in sha ALLAH the greens will snatch another victory..

  • POSTED BY Buggsy on | February 3, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    @the_blue_android - the problem is, Sri Lanka and India don't have any decent spinners to take advantage of them. Look what happened to Sri Lanka when they prepared a 'rank turner' against Australia. Didn't turn out too well for the hosts. My guess is Sri Lanka and India will fail to win a single test against England in the coming tours.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | February 3, 2012, 3:06 GMT

    @landl47... Agree about Morgan/Bopara... I often get amused when captains, coaches talk about keeping the team together - yet in reality they are only talking about the batsmen... Bowlers get replaced regularly... Also in all football codes you regularly see players benched / rotated yet they still have their team spirit without any problems... Are batsmen inherently 'powder puffs' that need to be treated with kids gloves?...

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | February 3, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    @jjamie15 :- "A batsman makes 2 mistakes, that's his test over"... Often heard this quoted, but it is not close to reality... Many times batsmen get 'lucky' breaks - through the slips, dropped catches, missed runouts, french cuts, etc... When a bowler bowls the 'perfect ball', has the batsman made a mistake?... Probably not... Re: 90% psychological - agree & fairly obvious when you think about it...

  • POSTED BY Hodra99 on | February 3, 2012, 2:53 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge...keep living the past. Your only as good as your current form and England's is horrible. Since the famous '51' (which seems to have eluded your memory) in 2009 against a very average WI attack, you had a couple of good series against teams rebuilding or ageing. Coming back to reality is hard, but you can do it...

  • POSTED BY cricket_fan_1980 on | February 3, 2012, 2:50 GMT

    Just to clarify, these pitches are nothing like home condition/pitches in Pakistan. The weather (humidity and wind included) is completely different to the major stadiums in Pakistan. In addition, these are turning pitches, Pakistan pitches do not turn this much, they are flatter. In Pakistan, you would expect more of a run fest - Here, the English seamers actually did really well, and if any of you followed the games closely, Broad and Anderson were doing a lot with the ball. Also, this Bopara vs Morgan debate is a bit unfair because as far as their stats go, both aren't really test material yet. I think Bopara has done well in Indian conditions, but that doesn't really matter here. I would stick with Morgan because let the lad play a bit, get his bearings. And, this is a different type of whitewash to what Eng and Aus have done to India, here, at least Eng is fighting and the 2nd test was incredibly close. I think other than the last burst, Eng shouldve taken it

  • POSTED BY on | February 3, 2012, 1:45 GMT

    Looking forward to the third test and insha'Allah 3-0 white watch. Go cornered tiger go team Pakistan and show the world what's your worth!

    Ameen!

  • POSTED BY yorkshirematt on | February 3, 2012, 1:12 GMT

    @Hodra 99 June? I've got a bet on them to lose it by the SL series, meaning a whitewash in this series and SA whitewashing NZ.

  • POSTED BY on | February 3, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    It will be WHITEWASH in FOUR days:)))))))))))))))))))))))))

  • POSTED BY Syed_imran_abbas on | February 3, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    England look to restore confindence or "Pakistan Haunts for a test series white wash?". Anyways.. pakistan needs to find a fast bowling allrounder and a good keeper batsman.... wahaz riaz should be given a chance to replace junaid khan.. i am hoping a good test match again.. fingures are crossed...x

  • POSTED BY subbass on | February 3, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    Can't see any other result than a Pkaistan win.

    The England batsmen have let their bowlers(and more importantly)the cricket loving pubic down big time ! I suppose it's just how world cricket is though. No clear number 1 team and anyone can beat anyone ! I suppose it's good like this really.

    I'm sure if Pakistan came to England to play they would get hammered just as they are now doing the hammering. every team is strong at home or in Pakistans case 'home' as oppose to truly at home, still, it is conditions that are just like in Pakistan.

    Anyway only chance England has is to bat first and be positive, get a big score on the board at 3 runs per over then see if the bowlers can bowl Pakistan out twice for the innings win, as you can't see us chasing any kind of score !

  • POSTED BY Hodra99 on | February 3, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    Bring on the Whitewash! England will lose the number one ranking by June. SA will teach them a lesson as well in their own backyard.

  • POSTED BY fozybear on | February 3, 2012, 0:21 GMT

    The real test cricket is the Ashes series, every thing else is simply hogwash

  • POSTED BY Harry_Kool on | February 2, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    @5wombats. They have left our forums due to the taste of the sour grapes & humble pie. A whole many of them! I still have difficulty in undersdtanding why acknowledging other team's performance is so difficult. At least, in this series, the English bowlers have stood proud & the 2nd test was a classic tussle, there was fight shown, unlike a couple of opther recent series shown by a particular country. Pakistan, unlike India (& to a lesser extent SL) have a very solid all round attack comprosed of top class (or rising to be) bowlers, so I would suggest far better perfornaces in those 2 arenas when they tour there. A measure of a good team are performances over a period, not one series, let us wait, sit back & enjoy test cricket for what it is worth.

  • POSTED BY Dannymania on | February 2, 2012, 22:42 GMT

    we wanna win 3-0!you go Pakistan team,yay!

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | February 2, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    There are quite a few England fans here who are not convinced by Morgan as a Test batsman, myself included. Yes, he did make a century recently against India but wasn't he dropped about 3 times during that innings? The thing is, Bopara is the next in line and he hasn't exactly set the world alight either, so is anyone confident that he will make a difference if included? His bowling might be useful but bowling isn't a problem right now. If the England management believe in Morgan, which they must or they wouldn't have picked him in the first place, then they need to stick with him for now. He, like all the England batsmen, needs to change his approach to the spinners. It may be easier said than done but they need to play positively. They need to attack and not let the bowlers and fielding captain dictate terms. If they hang back in the crease and try to defend everything then we'll have another procession of LBWs. If they want a different result then they need a different approach.

  • POSTED BY Patchmaster on | February 2, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    Bopara has an avergage of 5 in the sub continent - can anyone tell me how this qualifies him to be 'our best back up batsman'. I am confident that I, as a club cricketer, could probably average 5 overseas. I am sat by my phone......

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | February 2, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    Pakistan is going to come up with new heroes in this match. Hafiz and younis in batting and Wahab in bowling will win this match for pakistan.

  • POSTED BY srivatsan on | February 2, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    I hate England winning and it's good to see them lose. This side will never be dominating as WI or Aus of the past. I just can't imagine what kind of speeches England would give if they ruled cricket like Australia!.

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    Why is this media hype when England plays,cannot understand.Why can't they play like others not being subjected to the spotlight so much.Undue pressure which can adversely affect their performances is completely necessary.Well Pakistan has wrapped up the series in style but I have hardly seen anything on them and and very few pictures to the surprise.More publicity has been given to Mohammed Amir's release.How fair that is I am not sure.

  • POSTED BY DomP on | February 2, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    Let's consider this a late wake up call: England need to establish who the reserve batsmen are. Fast.

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    I feel that England team face more problem to read Ajmal Saeed and suffer a lot to read "Doosra".

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    the most recent records and statistics can easily favored Pakistan for a clean sweep, and for England they need to do something out of woods to avoid a possible whitewash.

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    impossible we win Again inshallah clean sweep

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | February 2, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    This is the first Eng side I remember that has two quality spinners in the squad, so they have a decent chance of winning some of the coming games in Asia. Current series batting problems are more because they can't read the opposition spinners than lack of ability playing spin.

  • POSTED BY yorkshire-86 on | February 2, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    We are English! We dont play spin! And to make it worse, our only reserve batsmen (Bopara) has an average in the subcontinent of FIVE!

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    "GREEN REVOLUTION" on its way...........!!!

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | February 2, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    @the_blue_android on (February 02 2012, 17:16 PM GMT); your post doesn't read correctly. Lets see if we can make some helpful changes to take into account indias' real performance in the real world.... "The last few months was a lot of fun for the "world beaters" (india....). Let's see how many test matches they lost (8). There, that's much better. Factually correct, not gloating or anything. Now - time for you to go back to Aus V ind forums. Bye!

  • POSTED BY bobmartin on | February 2, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    It's all very well for Strauss to talk about players playing for their place... but if the batsmen, and let's face it, they are the problem, who took England to the number one spot can't cope, who the hell does he suggest they pick instead. Maybe he has an idea to pack the side with another three wicketkeepers, Kieswetter, Bairstow and Buttler...then add Taylor for good luck... Yeah.. that should do the trick..

  • POSTED BY Peterincanada on | February 2, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Front-foot-lunge From 1979 thru 2004 Aus and WI consigned many more Englishmen to the trash can than this over-hyped English team have done to others in their 15 minutes of fame.

  • POSTED BY Peterincanada on | February 2, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    @reality_check You are almost right about the England batting not being able to play world class spin; however with the exception of Ajmal, I don't think the spin attack is world class. The problem is that on their rise to the top they have rarely played on a turning wicket. Playing a spinner on a flat pitch does not make a batsman a good player of spin. These wickets are hardly mine fields, they simply offer slow turn. English, Aus and SA wickets rarely if ever give aid to spinners. 145 should have been gettable if the batsmen had only used their feet. English batsmen have always played from the crease which allows the bowler to get on top and stay with attacking fields. They also play across the line too much so that combined with poor foot work they are always going to struggle.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | February 2, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    The only positive that England can take from the last test is that they outplayed Pakistan for 3 1/2 days of the 4 days the game lasted. That meant nothing, of course, since they fell apart in the last innings; but it does show that they can do it. The only change I would make is Bopara for Morgan. I've never thought that Morgan looked like a test player. He has 2 hundreds and 3 fifties in his 15 tests, but an awful lot of single-digit scores, 9 in 22 innings, with another 3 innings under 20. His first-class average is only 36, so this isn't a player who has been dominant in first-class cricket. He doesn't have the defence to play with fielders round the bat. Bopara I wouldn't rate much better, but he does have a better first-class average (41), he bowls some useful medium pace and he has more experience, especially in these conditions. I hope England play for the whole game this time, not just most of it, but I'm bound to say that a win in a dead-rubber game doesn't mean much.

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | February 2, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    @ Front foot lunge, pommies accomplishments were in very familiar conditions. So basically England conquered 35 % of the surfaces against weak opponents. The torture begins now and lets see how many of your players retire or get injured by the time they finish 3 tests against SL and 4 tests against India and 7 ODIs.

  • POSTED BY reality_check on | February 2, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge: A sure sign of defeat even before the match is started is to glorify past victories. Neither England is playing toothless and tired India in England nor it is playing a declining Aussies in Australia. England is playing against a resurgent Pakistan with world class spin attack in UAE and it is already 2-0 down.

  • POSTED BY Sports4Youth on | February 2, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Only if Pak can improve their fielding (and catching) and thier batting, they surely have potential of being a better team than what we have seen in the years gone by. In the past they had some better players especially fast bowlers, but lack of decipline and some pathetic fielding kept them low on the rankings. Now it looks like Misbah is rectifying those basic mistakes. I think first of all Pak needs a good fielding coach. Ohter things can follow automatically.

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | February 2, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    Well, wait till you guys visit Sri Lanka and India on rank turners. The next few months is going to be a lot of fun for the "world beaters". Let's see how many test matches they win.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | February 2, 2012, 17:01 GMT

    The long list of Australian,and Indian cricketers that this England team consigned to the trash can with a thump over the last two years is enormous. They'v beaten everyone else, they've made fans of all the top cricket playing nations cower in the shock of overwhelming defeat. They've been a bit embarrassed here, but nothing compared to what they've put their opposition's supporters through in the last 2 years. This is the 'final frontier'. as Strauss said. If they can't conquer it just yet, they'll have another shot at it in Sri Lanka.

  • POSTED BY SHUD on | February 2, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    Best of Luck Pakistan. Keep it up.

  • POSTED BY reality_check on | February 2, 2012, 16:48 GMT

    I think there is a basic flaw in English batting i.e. not being able to play quality world class spin. They can rotate players and talk about it in the meetings until the doomsday but it is not going to make any difference. It's like expecting Taufeeq Umar to score a century in Perth in first test. Until they can adapt and bat in sub-continent like sub-continent players they can expect drubbing in the 3rd test and then in SL and India. Aussies knew how to adapt quickly in all conditions. Windies before them didn't have to since they had a pace battery on full charge to decimate any batsman even on the moon.

  • POSTED BY cricket_fan_1980 on | February 2, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    Tough decisions for England because a series whitewash would be humiliating, and extremely praise-worthy of Pakistan. I think the main thing it would show to me is how good Pakistan are, as opposed to how bad England are. I think England are actually playing quite well, and to be completely honest they're playing to the best of their capabilities at the moment. The truth is, at critical sessions of the first two tests, they're simply being outplayed. That is the beauty of test cricket, it doesn't matter if you scored a double hundred a few games ago, if you can't buckle down and last the first 30 balls and don't have a strategy for it, and you're a batsmen of Bell, KP or Strauss's calibre, then its not becz you're playing bad, its because you're being outplayed by a far superior side. I think it is extremely insulting to England to say they are playing poor cricket, because that questions the position of these guys in the squad when there are many dying for that spot

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    i dnt think bopara wil make any big diffrnce. its the quality of bowling that is keeping morgan and others away from scoring runs, and mr strauss should consider himself first fighting for place

  • POSTED BY zico123 on | February 2, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    all the best Pakistan to trash England 3-0

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    Credit to Ijaz Butt for making Misbah captain ;)

  • POSTED BY Shariq_Khan007 on | February 2, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    Morgan should be the one playing but he must have an aggressive approach in his batting. He can be lethal giving the fact that he is playing his normal game. one good session of him batting can take the game away from the opposition. See England must keep their Abu Dhabi 11 in to this game to be fair with Bopara as getting him in at this moment with such high hopes can only put his in enormus pressure whereas such confidence should be given to players like Morgan, Prior and Broad to play agressive cricket and not to worry about their positions in the side. Winning is one thing but to have players feel settled even in trouble times will make team stronger then ever. however, one must only expect England to put up a big fight as Pakistan will not be an easy team to beat... Pakistan should play Wahab Riaz to ensure a positive appraoch to win the third test as Wahab can also be a lethal addition in Pakistan bowling squad... As a cricketing fan I would love to see another craccker of a game

  • POSTED BY Andross on | February 2, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    I don't think that Strauss is discluding himself from that remark, and I really don't think that if they lose this test they should go wholesale dropping everyone either, drop the two who have performed the worst perhaps, and then try to educate the rest, if there is still no improvement, then look at the issue of dropping them too, but if you drop 4 guys at once, the whole team is destabilised.

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | February 2, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    It is comical that Strauss is saying this given his failure to perform for 12 months, never mind two Tests. But he is acting as a mouthpiece for Flower here who likes to bully his players - well certain players and not others. It was OK for Cook to fail in four Tests - he was backed by the management. Same for Broad. But Bell, who hasn't had a failed Series since his recall to the side, is admonished. Not a favourite then. Neither is KP of course. But KP came back into glorious form in the summer. So what exactly is Flower playing at?

  • POSTED BY Cric-enthusiast on | February 2, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    I agree with most commentators here...if there is someone who is (or at least SHOULD BE) in serious danger of being dropped for a prolonged poor form, it's the Captain himself. It's likely that Morgan will keep his place in this test precisely because of this reason. The Captain would not like to drop someone who scored a century 3 tests ago when he himself hasn't scored one in years!

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    It is necessary to make good decisions when team is on high note but good decision making becomes even more critical and decisive factor when the team is on a lower note. Though Pakistan batted comparatively better than England did yet it does not mean that Pakistan's batting was upto the mark. Had England batted well, there would have been much better statistics for England in terms of winning the matches during the current series. Pakistan needs to improve its batting. On bowling side, Pakistan needs to give chance to Wahab Riaz instead of Junaid Khan. On batting side, Pakistan needs to stick to existing batting line up though Umar Akmal deserves a chance.

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Andrew Strauss' clarion call for his teammates to work hard and discharge their responsibilities to the best of their abilities to avert a 3-0 whitewash is timely For another debacle and complete whitewash in the hands of Pakistan will be too humiliating for the no 1 Test side to endure.England desperately need to put a performance good enough to beat Pakistan.Pakistan on the other hand face a challenge to prove that they were worthy winners of the First and the Second Tests played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively.This time they are playing at the same venue where Pakistan won handsomely by 10 wickets.The question is whether they can put up a better this time at Abu Dhabi and fulfill the aspiration of Mohsin Khan who has in no uncertain terms expressed his desperation for 3-0 whitewash of England.Such an accomplishment by Mohsin Khan's boys will make Dave Whatmore's position rather untenable

  • POSTED BY jjamie15 on | February 2, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Can't help but laugh at some thought processes. Consider the psychology of sport. Assuming that those playing international cricket have the ability to play at that level - & the longevity and stats from their careers suggests that they all do, there is a well known quote that suggests that 90% of elite sport is psychological.

    Is Tiger Woods a bad golfer all of a sudden? No. Is Sachin any less the player he was now than when he made his 99 hundreds? No.

    Bowlers have a different mindset to batsmen. If a bowler gets hit for two fours, he has potentially unlimited chances to correct that. A batsman makes 2 mistakes, that's his test over. Players respond to positive reinforcement and confidence in their ability.

    Look at England of the 90s - 1 bad game and dropped and they ended up bottom of the rankings. We show faith in a core group of players and they are No. 1.

    These are the best players for the job and meanwhile the ECB are giving the next generation worldwide experience

  • POSTED BY 1st_april on | February 2, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    We also won 3-1 England......:-)

  • POSTED BY RohithMedisetty on | February 2, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Lol , look who's talking. It's been ages since strauss made any significant contribution , everybody apart from strauss got runs against India. If they're gonna axe a player it should be him.

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | February 2, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    I can see the argument for retaining Morgan for this test, but it isn't as persuasive as that for dropping him, IMO. Andy Flowers has many, many virtues but he is loath to drop regular team members (probably on an honourable basis of mutual loyalty), yet Panesar - who is now undroppable for the remainder of this winter's tests - was picked ahead of Finn, almost on the toss of a coin for Abu Dhabi. It was truly that close from everything I've read and heard. How Flower & Stauss must take some comfort from that lucky pick! Now, Flower has said that he is not afraid to drop a batsman, but will he? Bopara could hardly have done worse than Morgan - and he brings some useful medium pace to the team too. I believe that he deserves his chance and that Morgan doesn't deserve another at the moment. Remember, EM was regarded as England's best player of spinners (along with Bell!) a few weeks ago. Not now! Bopara must wonder why he's there if he's never given the chance to show what he can do!

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    i find the first paragraph of the article funny, in the sense that SHOULDN'T Strauss himself be playing for his place in the final test! i mean its been a long time since he scored anything!! haha

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  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    i find the first paragraph of the article funny, in the sense that SHOULDN'T Strauss himself be playing for his place in the final test! i mean its been a long time since he scored anything!! haha

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | February 2, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    I can see the argument for retaining Morgan for this test, but it isn't as persuasive as that for dropping him, IMO. Andy Flowers has many, many virtues but he is loath to drop regular team members (probably on an honourable basis of mutual loyalty), yet Panesar - who is now undroppable for the remainder of this winter's tests - was picked ahead of Finn, almost on the toss of a coin for Abu Dhabi. It was truly that close from everything I've read and heard. How Flower & Stauss must take some comfort from that lucky pick! Now, Flower has said that he is not afraid to drop a batsman, but will he? Bopara could hardly have done worse than Morgan - and he brings some useful medium pace to the team too. I believe that he deserves his chance and that Morgan doesn't deserve another at the moment. Remember, EM was regarded as England's best player of spinners (along with Bell!) a few weeks ago. Not now! Bopara must wonder why he's there if he's never given the chance to show what he can do!

  • POSTED BY RohithMedisetty on | February 2, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Lol , look who's talking. It's been ages since strauss made any significant contribution , everybody apart from strauss got runs against India. If they're gonna axe a player it should be him.

  • POSTED BY 1st_april on | February 2, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    We also won 3-1 England......:-)

  • POSTED BY jjamie15 on | February 2, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Can't help but laugh at some thought processes. Consider the psychology of sport. Assuming that those playing international cricket have the ability to play at that level - & the longevity and stats from their careers suggests that they all do, there is a well known quote that suggests that 90% of elite sport is psychological.

    Is Tiger Woods a bad golfer all of a sudden? No. Is Sachin any less the player he was now than when he made his 99 hundreds? No.

    Bowlers have a different mindset to batsmen. If a bowler gets hit for two fours, he has potentially unlimited chances to correct that. A batsman makes 2 mistakes, that's his test over. Players respond to positive reinforcement and confidence in their ability.

    Look at England of the 90s - 1 bad game and dropped and they ended up bottom of the rankings. We show faith in a core group of players and they are No. 1.

    These are the best players for the job and meanwhile the ECB are giving the next generation worldwide experience

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Andrew Strauss' clarion call for his teammates to work hard and discharge their responsibilities to the best of their abilities to avert a 3-0 whitewash is timely For another debacle and complete whitewash in the hands of Pakistan will be too humiliating for the no 1 Test side to endure.England desperately need to put a performance good enough to beat Pakistan.Pakistan on the other hand face a challenge to prove that they were worthy winners of the First and the Second Tests played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively.This time they are playing at the same venue where Pakistan won handsomely by 10 wickets.The question is whether they can put up a better this time at Abu Dhabi and fulfill the aspiration of Mohsin Khan who has in no uncertain terms expressed his desperation for 3-0 whitewash of England.Such an accomplishment by Mohsin Khan's boys will make Dave Whatmore's position rather untenable

  • POSTED BY on | February 2, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    It is necessary to make good decisions when team is on high note but good decision making becomes even more critical and decisive factor when the team is on a lower note. Though Pakistan batted comparatively better than England did yet it does not mean that Pakistan's batting was upto the mark. Had England batted well, there would have been much better statistics for England in terms of winning the matches during the current series. Pakistan needs to improve its batting. On bowling side, Pakistan needs to give chance to Wahab Riaz instead of Junaid Khan. On batting side, Pakistan needs to stick to existing batting line up though Umar Akmal deserves a chance.

  • POSTED BY Cric-enthusiast on | February 2, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    I agree with most commentators here...if there is someone who is (or at least SHOULD BE) in serious danger of being dropped for a prolonged poor form, it's the Captain himself. It's likely that Morgan will keep his place in this test precisely because of this reason. The Captain would not like to drop someone who scored a century 3 tests ago when he himself hasn't scored one in years!

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | February 2, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    It is comical that Strauss is saying this given his failure to perform for 12 months, never mind two Tests. But he is acting as a mouthpiece for Flower here who likes to bully his players - well certain players and not others. It was OK for Cook to fail in four Tests - he was backed by the management. Same for Broad. But Bell, who hasn't had a failed Series since his recall to the side, is admonished. Not a favourite then. Neither is KP of course. But KP came back into glorious form in the summer. So what exactly is Flower playing at?

  • POSTED BY Andross on | February 2, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    I don't think that Strauss is discluding himself from that remark, and I really don't think that if they lose this test they should go wholesale dropping everyone either, drop the two who have performed the worst perhaps, and then try to educate the rest, if there is still no improvement, then look at the issue of dropping them too, but if you drop 4 guys at once, the whole team is destabilised.