August 1, 2010

England’s seam bowlers bring Australian counterparts to shame


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Surprised by the headline? No mention of Pakistan in it. Well sometimes it does happen. The England pace trio of James Anderson, Chris Broad and Steve Finn just stuck to the basics to earn a convincing 354-run victory for their side in the first Test at Trent Bridge.

Inexperience is not the most appropriate word to describe the Pakistan batting line-up fielded in the first three Tests of the summer so far. It’s much worse than that. They are short of technique let alone any exposure to the conditions of England.

Ijaz Butt and his cronies have done a cruel joke with the nation and the game of cricket. By blooding the raw youngsters at key positions they have made a mockery of a term called merit.

That even the weakest of batting line-up to have taken to Test cricket for a long time managed to register a victory over Australia was attributed more to lady luck and the suicidal instincts of the opponents.

Australia had to stoop very low indeed to be able to lose a Test match to Pakistan in the English conditions. For doing that they had to commit a suicide and they did exactly that in the second Test at Headingley to ensure that they didn’t win the series.

Ricky Ponting’s decision to bat first under overcast sky after having called correctly was as much horrible as the bowling of Australian fast bowlers during both the Test matches and this has been proved by the Englishmen who just bowled in the right areas to expose Pakistan’s brittle batting.

I don’t know what the trio of Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus was doing in those two games. We are told that the Australians have the best cricket system in place in the world.

But if their top three fast bowlers are unable to produce the goods in favourable conditions then something must have gone somewhere. Either the selectors made the mistake of picking out-of-form guys or the managers were unable to keep them motivated.

Bollinger, Johnson and Hilfenhaus had played cricket at the international cricket having come up with sterling performances in the recent past. How all three of them became ineffective to the extent of useless remains a mystery?

If Ponting had to look to Shane Watson, Steve Smith and Marcus North for the wickets it really made a mockery of his plans. The Australian think-tank had probably made a blunder of lifetime somewhere.

Cricket remains a game of uncertainties and we can expect to have a lot of unexpected things in the field. But can we hope the powerful Australians to be laid low by a bunch of cricketers who themselves were short of confidence and struggling for survival.

Not sure how the Australians would be treating this odd defeat at Headingly but the bowling performance of England in the following Test at Trent Bridge has certainly made them look even uglier.

Andrew Strauss and his men have done nothing exceptional. Their batting also collapsed in both outings but the bowlers didn’t let the team down and the result was hardly ever in doubt. Birthday boy Anderson remained on song and his 11-wicket haul was a perfect gift to his teammates.


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