An Eng­land pri­or­ity is to fleece fans

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - World Of Sport -

Eng­land’s cricket team is lucky the Olympics are prov­ing to be a golden de­light for Great Bri­tain.

They are also lucky the Premier League sea­son started. Ar­se­nal and Liver­pool’s thriller last Sun­day was a ter­rific dis­trac­tion from con­fir­ma­tion that Eng­land’s be­lief they would be­come the num­ber one Test-play­ing na­tion in the world by the end of Au­gust was as de­luded as be­liev­ing Rio 2016 would be drug-free.

At a time when it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to lose at home ( just wit­ness Aus­tralia’s hi­lar­i­ous ca­pit­u­la­tion to a Sri Lankan team re­cently thrashed by Eng­land) Alas­tair Cook’s men failed to beat a Pak­istan team who have not played a home se­ries for seven years and who have no se­ri­ous first-class struc­ture in their home­land.

In con­trast Eng­land have mil­lions to spend. They fleece their fans by charg­ing ex­or­bi­tant en­try fees (I was of­fered a ticket to the Oval for £67, I went to Lord’s on a £70 ticket) to watch play­ers who en­sure they never man­age to bowl the al­lot­ted 90 overs a day (I’d keep them on the pitch un­til they’ve done it, they’d soon speed up).

Eng­land’s ap­proach to this se­ries was flawed.

Did we ring Pak­istan up and ask them what sort of pitches they wanted to play on? Eng­land would have white­washed their visi­tors on seam­ing pitches with bounce and pace, but there seemed to be more in­ter­est in milk­ing spec­tac­tors for five days then giv­ing them any­thing to cheer.

Is it un­sport­ing to load the pitches in your own favour? Pos­si­bly, but wait and see what awaits Eng­land in In­dia this win­ter.

In­dia will have seen how aw­ful Moeen Ali is at bowl­ing spin and they will have been thrilled that Adil Rashid wasn’t given the op­por­tu­nity to test him­self in the Pak­istan se­ries. A set of turn­ing pitches will surely await and Eng­land will be long odds against to get even a draw in the five Test­match se­ries.

Ali is hope­less with ball in hand. He’s rarely go­ing to have a lux­ury of a big Eng­land score to help while the dopey se­lec­tors per­sist with bats­men who are em­bar­rass­ingly out of their depth.

Alex Hales is not only a poor open­ing bat, he’s a bit of a head-case, one who picks fights with play­ers far more tal­ented than he is. Sledg­ing is fine if you have the abil­ity to back it up.

James Vince (right) ap­pears to be in the side be­cause he can look pretty, but Eng­land will need bats­men who will at least fight to pre­serve their wicket in In­dia.

And if they take pea-heart Steven Finn to the sub-con­ti­nent I might not bother even watch­ing. Finn’s med­i­cal record not his Mid­dle­sex con­nc­tions should de­ter­mine his selec­tion.

And we can’t ex­pect wiz­ardry from the cap­tain to save our win­ter. Cook’s de­ci­sion to bat first on the only likely cloudy day at the Oval was blind­ingly bad. He’d clearly for­got­ten Pak­istan’s bat­ting morale would have been low af­ter their Edg­bas­ton ca­pit­u­la­tion.

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