When you’re the best test Cricket side in the world, everyone is looking to dethrone you and if you’re not too careful it can happen in a wholly surprising and humiliating way. England experienced that last week in their heavy test defeat to Pakistan, serving as a reminder that expectations are higher than they were a year ago and indicating the players must perform to those standards or else fail spectacularly.
Careless batting and needless misjudgements were the order of the day as Saeed Ajmal and co. upped the pressure leaving England to capitulate in an embarrassingly meek way. Defeats like this aren’t and shouldn’t be expected, and with the talent and experience available, both fans and the players could have been a little too expectant that victory would come despite the (deserved) confidence the players had heading into the test.
Their humbling start invited criticism and in the space of a few days the mood turned from quiet confidence to disappointment as the England that turned up was unrecognisable from the one we’ve seen perform consistently over the last year,
If this were simple, exaggerated cartoon strip then, with England being anointed as the best test cricket side in the world, Pakistan should have been shaking and quaking in their boots, waiting for England to win. Pakistan arrived with the right attitude, work ethic and a little bit of luck with Strauss’s dismissal. These were three things that England lacked in Dubai, something was amiss, whether it was a lack of concentration, poor preparation or the fates conspiring against them; the defeat was huge and humbling. It demanded a response that salvaged a little bit of pride and would make sure that this test would look like the aberration it should be viewed as.
…an advantageous position.
So far in the 2nd test the response has been good with Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott putting England in an advantageous position. A fight back from Pakistan has ensured that England aren’t safe yet but it should remind them that another drop in their high standards like last week will result in another discomfiting defeat.