England in Pakistan, 2005-06 November 1, 2005

Maynard backs under-performing batsmen

Michael Vaughan's second batting failure of the game was matched by several of his colleagues © Getty Images
Matthew Maynard, England's assistant coach, refused to get carried away after England's second top-order collapse of the match, and instead put England's struggles down to a touch of early-tour rustiness.

"The guys have had five or six weeks off, and only they could tell you how switched on or off they are at the moment," Maynard told reporters after England had slumped to 39 for 6 in their second innings. "Losing the wickets was a disappointment, but I wouldn't read too much into it. I can't fault the commitment from the lads. They've worked hard in training and in the nets."

Improbably, given all the pre-tour hype about the trial by spin that awaits England, the damage in both innings has been done by seamers. But Maynard pointed out that the same had been true on England's last tour in 2000-01. "Apparently the same happened five years ago," he said. "The practice wickets have been totally different to the centre wickets, which will be totally different to the Test wicket in two weeks' time. Today it was a bit like English county conditions, and we haven't adapted that well."

Anyone back home examining England's scorecard might accuse the team of a touch of complacency, but Maynard insisted this was not the case. "I wouldn't have thought so at all," he said. "The team has been talked to by the captain, and they all know that to win in the subcontinent is the next big challenge. They are definitely all up for it."

Amid the chaos, some early indicators for the Test have been popping up, not least Paul Collingwood's apparent headstart over Ian Bell. "It's still early stages," said Maynard. "The management team and selectors have got their ideas, but if Belly scores a hundred tomorrow his name is sure to be in the frame. That's the beauty of this squad, everyone is competing for a place."

"The bowlers impressed," Maynard added of England's one bright spot of the day. "They were rusty at the start, but once they had got overs in their legs they began to hit good areas. There was some great reward for Liam Plunkett in his first match, a nice comeback for Jimmy Anderson, and Shaun Udal got some turn."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo