Stop the early mis­takes and end this silly first Test jinx

Root’s team can rec­tify their shock­ing record in open­ing games by play­ing sen­si­ble ses­sion cricket

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | First Test - Michael Vaughan

Eng­land can use as many ex­cuses as they want for the past few se­ries, but facts are facts. They lost the first Test to West Indies. They could have blamed prepa­ra­tion but it was the same for both sides, they just were not good enough in that open­ing game.

Go back to the South Africa se­ries. You can blame ill­ness if you want – and they did strug­gle with that – but they made some poor calls in the first Test, like the de­ci­sion to bowl first at the toss.

Go back to New Zealand. They should quite eas­ily have drawn that first game, but they had one of those col­lapses that cost them.

Then go back to the first Test of the Ashes against Aus­tralia at Edg­bas­ton last year. They had a great chance in that first in­nings to re­ally make the game safe with the bat. They did not – and then they got blown away on the last day.

So, Eng­land con­tin­u­ally lose the first Test of a se­ries. It has to stop be­cause, against bet­ter teams, par­tic­u­larly away from home, it will not be so easy to come back.

You go 1-0 down in In­dia, with­out a world-class spin­ner, and you do not come back. You go 1-0 down in Bris­bane in a year’s time, and you are not com­ing back – his­tory tells you that.

Com­pared to a Pak­istan team who are rusty and have not had any com­pet­i­tive cricket, Eng­land have had three Test matches, lots of weeks of prepa­ra­tion and prac­tice, and are used to the bub­ble. This is all new for Pak­istan. Eng­land must play a dis­ci­plined, con­sis­tent game this week. If they do so they will win the Test match.

There is no blue­print for how you win the first Test of a se­ries other than just to play good cricket. Eng­land have played good cricket only af­ter go­ing 1-0 down.

They played de­cent cricket in the sec­ond Test of the Ashes and in the sec­ond Test in New Zealand, they played very good cricket in the sec­ond Test in South Africa and very good cricket in the sec­ond Test against West Indies. There is no ex­cuse. It is just an­other Test match.

When you sud­denly start big­ging up the first Test, say­ing you have got to win it, hav­ing lost the opener in the past four se­ries, it prob­a­bly goes too far. You have just got to play ba­sic good, ses­sion cricket.

So, you win the first ses­sion, you win the sec­ond ses­sion – the real ba­sics of the game at the high­est level. You should not re­ally have to tell a team that.

How you win a Test match is with sim­ple dis­ci­plines: bowl­ing for dots, bowl­ing for con­sis­tency. And bat time and avoid a big clus­ter of wick­ets in ei­ther in­nings. If you do that, you gen­er­ally at least draw a Test.

The only threat to Eng­land I see this week is if Pak­istan bat first and get 300-plus – then the home side are un­der pres­sure. But even if Eng­land are bat­ting sec­ond and have to fol­low 300 or 350, they should still be good enough to get at least parity on first in­nings.

That is where this Eng­land side have to im­prove. When they bat sec­ond they just have to hang in there, even when they have a big num­ber to chase.

It is like tick­ing off the short­term pro­cesses. Just tick it off. You know if you bat all day the

Sil­ver­wood has to pick his best bowl­ing at­tack for the open­ing Test and then ro­tate the quicks

score­board will read some­thing like 270. You have just got to bat the overs.

It is not rocket sci­ence. This is a Test se­ries – and a first Test – against a team you should be beat­ing, when you com­pare Eng­land’s prepa­ra­tion to Pak­istan’s.

Eng­land will need to ro­tate their quicks later. But for the last Test against West Indies, Chris Sil­ver­wood said he was go­ing to pick the best bowl­ing at­tack. He has got to do the same again.

That is the hope for Pak­istan – to avoid de­feat here and then Eng­land ro­tate for the sec­ond Test. The two wick­ets against West Indies at Old Traf­ford were ex­cel­lent. It is go­ing to be a dry week – you could say that brings Pak­istan back into the equa­tion.

The thing about this Eng­land side is they have never failed to dis­ap­point when you ex­pect them to go on a de­cent run. We do see blips.

They are play­ing de­cent teams – not the best teams – at the mo­ment. And they need to be dom­i­nat­ing against them at home. If you can­not play your own con­di­tions well, how can you ex­pect to play well over­seas?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.