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Number One ranking at stake in Dubai

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Adam Mountford | 16:12 UK time, Monday, 30 January 2012

"Welcome to what I've had to put up with for most of the last 20 years."

These are the words with which Jonathan Agnew greeted me when I joined him for a drink on Saturday night.

Although Aggers was clearly speaking more than a little tongue in cheek, the nature of England's capitulation in Abu Dhabi did bring back some horrible memories of infamous England collapses.

Trinidad in 1994 when Ambrose and Walsh skittled England out for 46, The Gabba in 2002 where England were bowled out by McGrath and co for 79 or, more recently, Jamaica 2009 when Jerome Taylor blew away England for 51, all spring to mind.

That game in Kingston was actually the first Test under the two Andys, Messrs Flower and Strauss. But since that chaotic afternoon three years ago, they have brought considerable calm to England's Test side as well as great success.

That is why the events of Saturday afternoon and last week in Dubai have taken us by surprise.

Nobody said that this series against a much-improved Pakistan side was going to be easy and it was always more than possible England might lose. But it's the nature of the defeat which has been most striking.

Defeat in Dubai may lead to England losing their number one ranking if South Africa are able to whitewash New Zealand. Photo: Getty

Saturday is the sort of day in the Test Match Special box when the speed of events can make the producer's life rather tricky. The ends of games are always the most difficult to deal with because you have to worry about getting the programme off air, sorting out post-match interviews and servicing the numerous BBC outlets looking for reaction.

Then there are the practicalities such as organising transport for the commentators and de-rigging all the equipment.

This can be a challenge at the best of times but normally you have a little notice that the end is nigh. But when five wickets fall in 11 balls suddenly you have to react rather more quickly. So as England's batsmen were capitulating in the middle I was negotiating whether we could move the shipping forecast so Long Wave listeners didn't miss the end of the game, liaising with Five Live and the World Service, who both wanted Michael Vaughan for immediate reaction, briefing Alison Mitchell about possible questions for Andrew Strauss and organising our transport to get to the ground much earlier than planned.

I was also searching for Geoff Boycott so that he was in position ready to deliver his verdict on the TMS Podcast and, to be honest, I wasn't quite sure what mood he might be in. Firstly, Andrew Samson our scorer had found out that the only other time England had lost a Test chasing less than 150 in the last 100 years was Wellington 1978 - when Geoff had been captain. Then there was the little matter of what Boycott had said in the previous night's podcast. He was so confident of an England win he had staked his house on it. "Which one?" asked Aggers. "All three," replied Boycott. Now I was being flooded with Tweets and emails from listeners asking if they could have one of his properties while Dave Downing messaged me: "Will Geoff Boycott use a stick of rhubarb to knock in the "For Sale" signs?"

Fortunately Boycs took all this in great humour, but he was in no laughing mood when discussing what he thought of England's batting later.

Although huge praise must go to Pakistan for the way they have played in the first two Tests, it's a shame that when the third Test gets under way on Friday it's not a series decider. You can imagine a few more members of the Barmy Army might have made late bookings to come out here had the series been level. However, the performance of Misbah Ul Haq's side might encourage a large crowd from the Pakistani community here in Dubai on the first day. England's thre-day demise in the first Test denied the locals any play during their weekend.

But although the series is over England will be desperate to win the game for lots of reasons. They will obviously want to stop the rot after a deeply disappointing winter so far. But also their number one ranking could be at stake. If England lose in Dubai then South Africa will be able to overtake them with a 3-0 series win in New Zealand. This could be a costly business as well because the team which lies number one on 1 April will win a jackpot from the ICC worth $175,000.

Our coverage of the final Test gets under way on 5 live Sports Extra and Radio 4 Long Wave at 0545 on Friday where as well as our ball-by-ball coverage we'll be finding out what the secret is to Pakistan's recent success. Kevin Howells will present the second part tracing county cricket's greatest characters and Alison Mitchell will be discovering a corner of a foreign field which is forever England, Australia, Pakistan, through the amazing work at the ICC Global Cricket Academy.

Don't forget that if you miss our commentary you will be able to download the TMS Podcast and I must recommend our daily highlights show on 5 live Sports Extra.

But will we be bringing good news to England or Pakistan fans? As Aggers reminded me on Saturday night, I have been extremely fortunate to look after TMS during a golden period for the England Test team and the two Andys will be hoping the last fortnight is just a blip.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I enjoyed listening to TMS while i was seeing the cricket in Abu Dhabi.
    England played really well for most of the test match until they batted in their second innings.

    Let's hope that England get the right result in Dubai.

    I enjoyed reading this- Thank you!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes, it's ironic that Geoff Boycott should call this England's worst ever loss, when he captained the team in that infamous game in Wellington. Coincidentally England lost that game by 72 runs, exactly the same margin as here. Geoff is right that this England team has batted appallingly in the present series, but might have done better not to invite comparisons with past defeats. Actually I might suggest for England's worst ever the match at Christchurch in 1984: NZ 307; England 82 and 93.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Mitchell. I remember that Christchurch game. Tony Pigott was called up to the Engand side as an emergency replacement because of an injury crisis. He was playing provincial cricket in New Zealand at the time. Pigott postponed his wedding to play as it was scheduled for the 4th day of the test ... only for the game to finish in 3 days!

    Talking about the number one ranking ... It's interesting that over the past few days other teams have been pushing their claims. Pakistan coach Mohsin Khan has said his side has the ability to become number one and Australia's Mike Hussey revealed his team speak "every day" about their determination to reclaim the top spot.

    When England became number one there was some talk about them staying at the top for a generation - but if they don't improve there is a danger it won't last for more than a few months.

    We may get a period where the ICC mace passes from team to team with the likes of South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and perhaps again India all challenging England. From a neutral point of view it could become a really exciting period of Test cricket with teams all capable of beating each other on any given day.

  • Comment number 4.

    Could be even more money on the line this week with reports that the ICC are set to announce the jackpot prize for being number one on the 1st April could rise to half a million dollars.

  • Comment number 5.

    Adam,

    England cannot deny that their usually impeccable preparation was flawed this time not sure how much time they spent using merlin or that they had a real plan for the Pakistan spinners with DRS in play. If the batsmen haven't or can't follow a plan then look to the young hungry Lions for ones who can.

    As for the ICC purse, should England retain the no.1 spot they should consider following in Mr Hesters and consider compensating the supporters who have paid good money to see two consecutive poor performances in the UAE.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree that we are in for a period where the number 1 slot will change quite frequently. The test rankings graph from the last few years shows that whilst Australia were dominant the number 2 slot was always hotly contested amongst the other teams, and all thats really happened is that Australian dominance ended and that tussle for #2 is now a tussle for #1. Our batting relies too heavily on Cook and Trott getting themselves in, if they fail, the team fails.

    What worries me is that the bowlers may start to get demoralized if they dont feel that the batting is going to back up their hard work. they bowl with such passion and agression and they may lose that if they think they are wasting their efforts.

    Interesting times ahead, I just dont see England getting a win here, even Cook and Trotts partnership in the first innings was full of constant LBW appeals and a fair bit of luck. Not 1 batsman has looked comfortable yet.

  • Comment number 7.

    hainba what about all the fans who travelled to watch them in the 90's? Don't be so absurd!

    First off "worst defeat ever" is just hyperbole. The reason we're all disappointed is because England were in a clear winning position and somehow lost. to be a truly terrible performance you need to loose by an innings and perform poorly with the ball and the bat. That hasn't happened in either Test.

    I think we need to call Morgan's position in the side into question as the lad like I said when he was first called up quite simply has never looked like a Test player. Also we need to start thinking when Cook will take over Strauss as the leader of these men, it's going to happen someday but with tours of Sri-Lanka and India upcoming I'd like to see it sooner rather than later.

    Not suggesting major changes before the next Test but the Lions will be over for a one-day game against the 1st Team before the ODI's. maybe we should try blooding a few of them again in the third Test? Hales, Buttler, Kieswetter (not sure you can play Kies without dropping Prior which would be madness) have all been in major runs not to mention Baristow and Taylor making cases both past and present. Dropping batsmen doesn't have to mean brining in Bopara.

  • Comment number 8.

    Agree with #7 re: batsmen. Do not see the need for Bopara to replace Morgan. I recently moved to Yorkshire and they all love Bairstow up here so I have been watching him a lot. Don't think he is ready yet. Buttler or Taylor would be my choice. Also have huge concerns about Pietersen. He quite simply has to start making runs. I don't think any player should be guaranteed a place in the first 11.

    Is Bresnan fit? If so, I would drop morgan for him for the next test and move broad up the order. Both can bat and it would give us another bowling option whilst playing 2 spinners.

    I got up each morning to watch the game and have felt thoroughly let down by the top 5/6.

  • Comment number 9.

    ncurd - my tongue was firmly in cheek. I was there in the 90's for a couple of particularly poor performances, but expectations weren't that high.

    Since Fletcher took the England set-up team into the modern era preparation has become a focus point. Against Warne for example - England had a clear plan this time we may have believed our own press.

    There should be no excuses for these performances only a lot of hard work to put things right. IF a player is found to be wanting someone else should get their chance...

  • Comment number 10.

    Although it was a disastrous 2nd innings collapse you would have to argue this game was won/lost on the toss of the coin. I doubt Pak would have been able to make 145 batting last let alone any team in the world. I don't agree with most commentators who said the pitch didn't have any demons, as it was turning sharply.

    England just got in to this mindset that if they stayed long enough at the crease it would become easier to bat on, but they forgot to score runs or rotate the strike. it really was rabbits in headlights.

    But you have to love test match cricket. It was gripping even for a neutral.

  • Comment number 11.

    Do you not think that the preparation was very poor for this game? The last competetive match for most of these guys was October and what have they done since, a couple of 3 dayers against mediocre opposition, while pakistan have had a test and one day series under their belt.

    People are questioning Morgan at the moment and it seems he is being made the scapegoat, but honestly I think it is time for Pietersen to be given the heave-ho. He is in there to score big runs and lets be honest he has not really done that at all for the best part of three years (okay he scored a double hundred in the Ashes but not much else). He is not the player he was and I think we need to bring someone else in now to keep the new blood coming in so we do not end up like Aus or Ind with all the good players retiring at the same time.

  • Comment number 12.

    Interesting to see people arguing that there is no need to change the side. Yes, consistency in selection is a virtue and there is great merit to not having players feel they are facing the chop if they have a bad Test or two. But this attitude begs two important questions:

    i) are the other players on tour merely there for the ride or to provide cover in case somebody is injured or falls ill? if not, and if they have reasonable expectations of playing sometime, why not bring them in now?

    ii) are we showing loyalty to the right people?

    The second question is the crux of the selection problem. If we are honest, Strauss (notwithstanding his second innings), KP, Bell and Morgan have looked completely at sea against Pakistan's spinners and there may be arguments for "resting" any or all of them. I personally feel the first three deserve at least the bulk of another series before being axed - they are all proven performers at Test level who have saved or won many matches for England in the past and there can be at least some expectation that they will come good again "soon". Nevertheless, they should not be automatic choices beyond the first or second Test in the forthcoming tour of SL (I think). On teh other hand, I remain completely unconvinced by Morgan, who has never performed in a competitive Test (no disrespect intended to the opponents against whom he has scored runs, merely a reflection of the match status at the time). His technique against seam bowling is not good and, admittedly like many others, he has been found wanting against spinners that before this series would not have been held in the same regard as Warne and Murali. I was puzzled that Morgan was called up to the side in the first place - his county record was at best average - and despite a good deal of faith the selectors have shown in him he has not proved to me that he deserves a place.

    If I were one of the many young players performing well in county cricket I would wonder how much less Morgan has to do to be dropped so that I could have a chance.

  • Comment number 13.

    Agree about Pietersen, he has been strangely anonymous in this series. I think he enjoys the bigger occasions. He is sometimes damned if he does and damned if he doesn't when he plays his natural game. The problem now for Eng batsmen is that their minds are too crowded with how best to play these spinners and there aint just one they have to worry about. As everyone knows you play better when you have a clear mind. Cook and Trott can bat all day against mediocre seamers that they were up against in Aust and Eng last summer. Now they have to think a bit more.

  • Comment number 14.

    #8 Judging from my posts in the last couple of blogs it would look like I'm a KP fanboy, and I'm certainly not, but I'm not sure why KP keeps being singled out by some people. He was scoring runs last year, and a lot of them. Yes, he's failed in two matches so far, but then so have Strauss, Morgan and Bell. Cook has only scored once and Trott twice. And he has been dropped from the team before, both in Tests and ODIs, so he can hardly think he's undroppable.

    I wouldn't go outside the squad...if that is even allowed anyway, when there hasn't been an injury...I'd keep faith with those that had been picked for this series and then reassess afterwards. Give the team that got us to number one another chance to put things right. Saying that, I wouldn't complain if Bopara replaced Morgan. Morgan was a little lucky to get in to the team in the first place and a lot of the time he has seemed out of his depth. Bopara can't do any worse and his bowling might be useful.

  • Comment number 15.

    #11 And there we go again, another completely untrue comment about KP. Against India he scored 202 n.o and 175. He also scored 5 fifties over the previous 3 series and averaged over 70.

    It's amazing how selective some people's memories can be.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think there's no question in anyone's mind Morgan has to go. So who would everyone bring in?? Buttler for me.

    The second question is Panesar, Tremlett or Bresnan??? Conditions dictate maybe?? I go with Bresnan everytime personally.

    The Pieterson factor is also another question. I'm pretty sure we all had the same big debate about dropping Thorpe for the unknown South African Pieterson before the 2005 Ashes. Thorpy could easily have played on for England but the selectors made the bold choice. Is now the time for them to do the same again??

    I don't know who you bring up from the Lions team as a test player and not a one day player. I'd say Hales has the most potential but does he have the ability to step up to test level?

    Oh and Bopara has had too many chances and is not an option for the future so should be discarded.

  • Comment number 17.

    Bresnan and Tremlett are both ruled out of the series, so out of that lot I'd pick Panesar!

  • Comment number 18.

    #14 I am singling out KP and Morgan because I expect more from KP and we need his big scores.I don't believe be Morgan should be in the team. Most people I knew had reservations about him in the test line up. Trot was unwell for 2nd innings and made a solid score in 1st innings. The whole line up were poor in the 1st Test. I do think that Mr Bell is getting off very lightly though and he needs a score badly. Although Cooky has only scored once, he has been huge for us in recent years.

    One positive thing is that our bowling attack has been superb in both matches.

  • Comment number 19.

    @17

    Ha i'm not meaning the next test, i mean in general going forward.

    Although there has been poor performances from all batsmen this series the following will not lose (and shouldn;t lose) their places in the future

    Strauss
    Cook
    Trott
    Bell
    Prior
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson

    Leaving the debate about Pieterson (he is getting on), Morgan (not performed at test level) and the 4th bowler.

    My choices would be Hales, Buttler and Bresnan. Another good county season by Finn and a more controlled performance in england's one day team may get him the nod ahead of Bresnan but time will tell.

  • Comment number 20.

    We've just got to hope the batsmen have learnt their lessons and put in a performance worthy of playing for the number 1 test side in the final test. On recent performances Bresnan (when fully fit) must be a nailed on pick for the final XI for his all rounder qualities. Morgan would probably be the first to be dropped in order to keep the balance of the team. Even suggesting that KP should move over doesn't half get up the backs of the "KP can do no wrong" fan club.

  • Comment number 21.

    richwebb1

    Bell between the 2009 Ashes decider & the end of last summer:

    30 innings
    8 hundreds
    8 fifties
    1959 runs @ 78.36

    Sorry, but there shouldn't be any debate whatsoever about his place in the team.

  • Comment number 22.

    I for one am not calling for Morgan to be dropped. The reason is simple, a couple of years ago I felt the same way about Cook, I thought we stuck with him far too long. I was of course quite wrong and have decided to put my faith with the selectors who are clearly better at this than me.

  • Comment number 23.

    So few people mentioning James Taylor who is probably the best young batsman of the current crop coming through and has played by far the most first class cricket. He has got to be next in line if Morgan is dropped- he averages just shy of 50 in both first class and domestic one day cricket. He's so talented that I would say there is no point holding him back with Morgan not performing.

    Buttler and Hales need to make more hundreds at first class level for me before getting a crack and test cricket. I'd definitely have Buttler in the ODI and T20 teams though- he's a huge talent. I'd also like to see Bairstow play more first class cricket before he comes into the test team. We've got such a glut of talented young batsmen that it seems strange to cling onto someone who is clearly not a natural in the test match arena at number 6.

  • Comment number 24.

    #18 But it was only last year that he was making big scores, so we're still only talking about two matches. And Bell's average for the previous 3 series was just under 100, so he has also been huge for us.

    #19 Pietersen's only 31, so speaking as a 44 year old, it's a little harsh to say he's getting on :-) In theory he has still got many good years left in him.

    Little surprised you've guaranteed Strauss a place in the future, considering his record over the last couple of years. While we were winning it wasn't so noticeable, but it's about time he stood up as a batsman and lead by example from the front. I'd definitely have Bresnan in the team. He has majorly improved both as a batsman and a bowler. If he'd have been fit, I would have had him in the team ahead of Morgan and gone with 3 seamers and 2 spinners. My personal favourite of the young guns is Taylor.

  • Comment number 25.

    #21 wasn't debating his place in the team! if you read my previous posts, you will see the only player I think should be dropped is Morgan. Despite this do you think 0, 4, 29 and 3 is an acceptable return over 4 innings for a no. 4 in the number 1 ranked test team? All I am saying is that he is getting off lightly in respect of criticism

  • Comment number 26.

    #22 Good call. I too wanted Cook dropped, and also Broad before the Indian summer last year. Glad they both proved me wrong!

  • Comment number 27.

    The attention should be focused first on Morgan & Strauss, then on Pietersen - he clearly has a problem with the DRS. Strauss has hidden behind the team's success for some time now & deserves far greater scrutiny, regardless of whether you rate him as a captain - the batting order simply isn't strong enough to carry him.

  • Comment number 28.

    richwebb1

    I have no real problem with his scores. Batsmen aren't robots, constantly churning out runs - their form does come & go. Bell has a particular problem reading Ajmal - having been injured out of the previous series between the teams, he's had no real experience of playing him.

  • Comment number 29.

    but strauss has scored more runs than bell and Pietersen this series and captained the team to no. 1 in the world....

  • Comment number 30.

    @24

    The reason Strauss is in the undroppable camp at the moment is simply because we are winning. Yes he most definitely has to step up sooner rather than later but dropping him 'could' bring instability to the whole team.

    I'm not saying we'd fall apart without him but you don't change a winning formula. Yes this series has been a disaster so far but it's 2 tests within a whole lot of good ones and the Strauss, Flower combination has to be the cornerstone of it you would think.

    Also as most English captains tend to perform worse once they are given the mantle i am happy for him to carry the burden and let Cook (or whoever they give it to) to carry on without hindering their scores!!

  • Comment number 31.

    richwebb1

    Strauss has been rubbish with the bat for most of the last couple of years.

  • Comment number 32.

    Do we not think that these doomsday articles are a little premature? We lost two Tests, having been the best team in the world for two years. On a pitch where Monty Panesar gets 6 wickets, are really surprised when better spinners are threatening? Australia lost the New Zealand in Hobart in December, they were bowled out for 136 by an average at best bowling attack, and they have just spanked India into next week. Let's give this team at least a bit of a chance shall we? Yes they were abject in that innings, but let's not forget that for the rest of the game they were vastly superior.

  • Comment number 33.

    My question is have England picked the right batsmen for the tour, the bowling line-up was balanced and has done well

    All of these guys are fine at home (or in Oz) but have had questions asked about their ability to play cricket on the subcontinent (incl UAE).

    Are there no batsmen who have been identified as being better players of spin?

    The current players need to step up and fast!

  • Comment number 34.

    #20 Another typical comment from Typical_English. If you can find the post from me where I even suggest that KP is perfect and can do no wrong, then I'll go out and buy a hat just so I can eat it.

    You wanted him dropped after one bad match, which is and was ridiculous. What annoys me are innaccurate comments like KP hasn't scored big runs in ages, he hasn't done it for years, it's all in the past etc, etc. Keep it objective and we'll be ok.

  • Comment number 35.

    For me Pietersen's biggest problem is a mental one. For a start he's lost that fearlessness he had when he first came into the team. Look at the way he took Shane Warne on in 2005. He never even plays that slog sweep against the spinners anymore which was so effective against Warne, using his long reach to his advantage. In English conditions he seems far more willing to hit the spinners over the top- he's hardly tried to do that at all in this series. He is at his best when he plays his shots.

    In addition he takes the definition of a 'big game player' to the extreme. Unless he's playing Australia, India or South Africa he doesn't seem too bothered- look at that shot he played in the 2nd innings of the first test. Then his tweets after getting out or at the end of the matches have shown a sense of apathy as well. I'm pretty sure he has not enjoyed the sparse crowds and lack of atmosphere in this series.

  • Comment number 36.

    @33

    Do you pick the best batsmen or do you pick batsman based on conditions?? I don't think you can do the latter, i think you just have to get your best batsmen better at playing in various conditions.

  • Comment number 37.

    hainba

    Horses for courses? There's no real stability/continuity if you go down that track. It's fine on an occasional basis with bowlers, but would be very disruptive if applied to batting over the course of whole series/seasons.

  • Comment number 38.

    #30 I agree that Strauss shouldn't be dropped right now. But I question for how long he should be guaranteed his place, and I don't really know the answer to that. It's difficult to know from the outside how crucial the Flower/Strauss partnership is to our success. He's definitely been helped by the fact that there are no outstanding alternatives, either as an opener or as a captain. A few possibilities, but no-one is really breaking down the door just yet.

  • Comment number 39.

    On a slightly different note. Could anyone shed any light into the recent broadcasting rights? It says on the BBC websight about bskyb having tv rights for home internationals and tms radio rights for home internationals. But what about away games, are these on a seperate contract that gets negotiated differently?

    For what it is worth, my feeling is that Morgan is the only person who's place is under threat. But I think they all deserve a final go, then take stock for the Sri Lanka tour. I.e. Give Morgan a do or die ultimatum.

  • Comment number 40.

    #22 The difference was when Cook was being called to be dropped (yes I was one of them and I was very very wrong) is Cook had a proven track record of being able to score runs. Morgan has come into his side when two players were performing a lot better than him at First Class level (Hildreth and Bopara) and hadn't even proven himself in that format.

    As for potential replacements....

    Hales - I know little of.

    Taylor - Is probably the man most deserving of a crack at it and talented.

    Buttler - Too young for the Test side as a batsman. We should however seriously consider him as Prior's replacement the lad is hugely talented and should already be in ODI side (he averages over 70 in List A) as well as the T20 side. I've seen him play quite calmly if the situation requires staying at the crease, rotating the strike, before the fireworks begin in the last few overs. He does need to translate this to First Class Cricket though but England should be grooming him for the role.

    Baristow - eh...talented Batsman but frankly he's not as good as Taylor or Buttler and probably only the frame because he plays well in a poor Yorkshire side. There are certainly other Batsman out their I'd still consider first.

    Bopara - My original selection to replace Collingwood have felt he's been much been maligned since. I think he honestly deserves a fair crack at it too in the number 5 position. At least give him a whole series rather than being 12th man.

    Hildreth - Sadly the chance has come and gone for him I think. Last years season just didn't match up to the previous one and probably put him firmly out of contention for now. However he should of been given a nod before Morgan did.

  • Comment number 41.

    #40 There's also Stokes and Woakes, although I haven't seen a lot of them.

  • Comment number 42.

    @34
    'By keeping it objective' you mean agreeing with you that KP is bullet proof and his place in the side is forever secure?
    I criticised him on the this tour as he as woefully underperformed, we've literally been playing with 10 men with his contributions. Yes others around him have failed, but he's supposed to be a much better player than Strauss, Bell and Morgan etc.
    As I said in a previous blog, i'd hoped, as an England fan that he scored a match saving/winning score in the 2nd test, I want him and every other batsmen to score runs, and show some fight when we're in a tricky position, he hasn't done it this series.
    He hasn't performed and therefore should be open to criticism, stats don't lie, you for one should know as you keep dishing them out when ever anyone calls his place into question. Over the 4 innings he's batted in, has he actually broke 20 runs combined over the 2 games?

    It's all opinions mate, you can't kick up a fuss when someone disagrees with you.
    At the end of the day, i'm fully aware under this management he isn't going to be dropped, we've seen it with Cook and Broad in the past and they've come good, (and also the batters next in line aren't good enough to step up to test level) if the same happens with KP, great.

  • Comment number 43.

    Woakes is a bowler who can Bat much like Bresnen or Broad. Which is why he's not making the side sadly, I know a lot of people like Woakes but an out and out all-rounder he's not. He's just unfortunate there are people with his role in the side the side that can't really have their places question currently.

    Stokes is certainly worth a look at too although probably not ahead on that list above currently.

    However my point is thus unless you're an opener and your a Batsman currently there is no reason to think you can't be dropped there are plenty of other candidates. this is much like the bowling department. Morgan has had a year to prove himself and played 15 Tests with 22 innings now he averages 33. That simply isn't good enough for a dedicated batman. especially when you consider the next in the order Prior averages 44 and has to keep wicket as well.

  • Comment number 44.

    It's going to be a struggle for any up and coming bowlers to get a shot at the test side, the strength in depth is the best i've ever seen from an England perspective.

    Anderson, Broad, Swann, Tremlett, Bresnan, Panesar, Finn. That's 7 into 4 (maybe 5) spots. Add in Onions and the likes of Woakes and Kerrigan may have to push down the 1 day route before getting their chance.

  • Comment number 45.

    #42. There you go again, why do you always take it to extremes? Now I'm saying his place in the side is forever secure????

    I'm saying, perfectly simply, you don't drop him after one bad game. You don't drop him after two bad games. Take KP out of the equation altogether....you don't drop any successful player after two bad games. That is no way to run a successful side, and that is thankfully not the approach the England management have taken. They back the talent, and I trust them to know what they're doing.

    You say we've been performing with 10 men, I say we've been peforming with 6, maybe 7. That's the way it goes sometimes, it's very disappointing, but we've been spoiled over the last two years and we were due something like this.

    I have no problem with you criticising him. He's been rubbish, I've said it before. But calls to drop him after 1, now 2, bad games is shameful.

  • Comment number 46.

    For a change some fairly constructive comments and healthy debate.

    I think the chopping and changing of players was negative, a bit like football managers so its good to see a little faith. However, as Fergue realised, there is always a time to move someone on (think Ince/Keane).

    Morgan has not performed well enough in County Cricket or in tests unless in a game where we were already in a strong position. He is only in because they saw his temperament in the one day game and thought it would translate. I think as Boycs would say, technique is every bit as important.

    Of the others, I hear so much about the 'talent' of Taylor who averaged 38 in the 2nd Division last year. Also, in the 20/20 finals day year he was utterly bamboozled by spin (I know its a different game but...).

    I agree with certain comments that Prior/Broad/Bresnan/Swann is a strong enough 6-9 even if individually don't justify their position in the order but that's not relevant to Dubai. Similar could have been said of Patel/Rashid but Monty proved it is better to have the best spinner rather than accomodate an extra seamer by having an average one.

    Bairstow and Hales did have good averages (1st Div) last year, Carberry might be an option at 6 for a couple of years until the next generation are ready. For the last game, Bopara for Morgan. If Morgan stays and gets one hundred it won't change the fact that he is not test class (& feels like his one day form has dipped since being in the test team)

  • Comment number 47.

    First off - adore TMS, long may it continue.

    On to the main issue, yes, series is already lost and important lessons have to be learned. For now, important thing is to get a result in this last Test. Important for morale, important for the ranking. If England managed to fall now right at the very cusp of the #1 bonus cash, after all the hard work over previous months, that'd be a horrible outcome.

  • Comment number 48.

    Forget talking about individuals for a second and focus on the principals of how you select a team. Particularly an international team.

    In order for a player to perform at their best they cannot feel on edge about their position, however neither can they feel complacent. This means that you have to allow players to go through a poor run of form (Perhaps 4,5, or 6 tests) before questioning their place.

    In the 1990's quality players such as Hick and Ramprakash failed to flourish as a result, at least in part, of the fact that they never felt settled in the England side, we dont need to go back down that route.

    Finally I can guarantee you that Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara, Kallis, Dravid, etc have all endured runs of more than 2 test without scoring runs. It happens to absolutly everyone.

  • Comment number 49.

    Congrats to Pakistan on winning the series, well deserved and hardly mentioned (Apart from Geoff Boycott on the podcast), it was well known that the England players would struggle with the spin, all this mention of players planting their feet wrong or not learning their lesson from previous innings is rubbish. England were going to struggle regardless and a bit more praise should go to the spinners of Pakistan and the team who have vast improved since the shambles in England rather than the bashing of England players.

    New conditions, a strong opponent....this is by no way a catastrophe for England. I can see them winning all the test series at home in the summer and reclaiming the mace if indeed they do lose it after this series.

  • Comment number 50.

    Three issues here:

    a. The fact that Pakistan are not playing at home discredits this a fantastic performance. Truth be told the ICC should have banned Pakistan and until they can play in Pakistan they should be excluded, like Zimbadwe, from all forms of Cricket.

    b. Ajmal's action is illegal and should not be allowed but his performance on very helpful pitches has been superb. Rehman to has been excellent.

    c. Strip the hype away and England are the best of a very average bunch. India showed that being No 1 and not improving would lead to catestrophic results. England take note. England should be easily beating Pakistan but with the exception of the bowlers (Swann, Broad and Panesar) have not turned up. Englands problems stem from not enough preparation. No excuses are needed and Flower has not given any. Lessons to be learned but trust me in our conditions Pakistan would be hopeless to.

    As for Boycotts comments in the 35 years of following England I can think of worse performances but I cannot think of a time when the hype outweighed the substance.

  • Comment number 51.

    @50

    Opening up a can of worms no doubt with the Ajmal comment but i do find it amusing that people who defend him state the ICC have had people round to video him in the nets.

    Could Stuart Broad then just start hurling baseball style balls down in a game but insist the ICC have seen his action is fine when he's being monitored??!!

    Ajmal's action is awful in fairness but he did bowl very well indeed. Saying that though i didn't think it spinned as much as our batsman were making out. In the second innings Cook and Strauss set the tone with not trying to move the scoreboard on at all for the first hour.

  • Comment number 52.

    1. Zimbabwe were excluded for being a poor team as well as the political situation there. This is not the same as Zimbabwe or South Africa before it. Pakistan don't play at home due to attacks on Cricketers in the past if another country is willing to host the for the time being why shouldn't they play?

    2. Said it before and I'll say it again show where in lawbook it's deemed illegal.

    3. Slightly agree except that England are average they aren't especially the bowling unit. I also think you have taken a lot from Anderson who has bowled well but not just not taken Wickets which happens sometimes.

  • Comment number 53.

    On the being monitored thing, you don't think his opposition would be trying to accumulate evidence while he's bowling to try to prove it illegal? If it were illegal he'd have been found out. The TV pictures alone would be able to prove it...

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 50 - You bitter, bitter man. Why exclude Pakistan from all forms of cricket?! Why stop international calibre players earning their living the only way they know how?! Because they beat you're beloved England side?! Ridiculous comment. It's difficult enough for these players to always be away from home.. to not be able to play at all is a notion, thankfully, that's not even being considered by the ICC. And dare I say, would never have even been mentioned had they not embarrassed England over the last couple of weeks.

    As for Ajmal's action.. The law provides a 15 degree leeway for the bowlers. Though he does slightly bend his arm, the delivery is legal as certified by the ICC. Unfortunately, more excuses from bitter fans / sore losers.

    Unhappy that you've been found out to be a HOME team and are just that. And FYI, Jimmy Anderson, though great at HOME in HELPFUL conditions is pretty useless anywhere he doesn't swing and how he gets into touring squads bemuses me.

    Well done Pakistan, you played a great game.

  • Comment number 55.

    #54 I think that's a pretty outdated opinion of Jimmy. He was supposedly going to be rubbish in Australia where it wouldn't swing so much and they'd be using the kookaburra ball, but he showed how much he has improved. He's much more effective now in unhelpful conditions, and he's bowled decently against Pakistan, without getting tons of wickets.

  • Comment number 56.

    Like I said at the end of the last test match, England would get thrashed in the 2nd test! Lo and behold! They put up a better fight but still, that would count as an embarrassing thrashing.

    Whatever the case, it shows that you can have a team full of record breaking batsmen like India, but you wont win anything if your bowling is weak. That is why India is being thrashed.

    Pakistani batsmen may struggle in England and Australia, but as we saw in 2010 they are always in the game because of their bowling on any pitch anywhere in the world.

    If Pakistan strengthen their batting, remain professional, steer clear from in-fighting and internal polictics, and keep clean from spot-fixing, match-fixing and whatever else they have been involved in, then they can become a leading team. However, that is a big ask for a country that is always looking to destroy anything that is good or successful.

    As for England, I wonder if the media has started to accuse Abdul Rehman of throwing yet, bending his elbow 90 degrees, or tampering with the pitch outside the left-handers off stump.

  • Comment number 57.

    Does anyone think it odd that best team in the world in the second largest sport in the world gets a jackpot of 175,000 usd!!?? Share that between all the staff and it is probably no more that 2,000 usd each.

  • Comment number 58.

    #56 Totally agree about Pakistan.

    But it wasn't a thrashing in the 2nd Test, just a bloomin' awful 2nd innings!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Yup Pakistan are underrated that much is certain probably due to their tendency to self-implode. However a thrashing it was note as stated earlier you need fail at batting in both innings( in England's first innings they made more runs than either of Pakistan's) nor was the bowling terrible (superb economy rates across the board and restriction to under 300 runs is always good performance). So yeah I wouldn't say England lost because they don't have the bowling line up they most certainly do. Or are you suggesting 144 is usually a total you could defend for any side? Each batsman had to only make 13 runs.

    Quite frankly as good as Pakistan were they should never have won the Test match in that position. Any Cricket fan no matter how in awe of their own country will tell you that. That's why there been outcry not because England were 'thrashed' but they somehow lost when all common sense says they should of won.

  • Comment number 60.

    In answer to post 39 from Tophatandtails. Rights for overseas games are normally agreed on a series by series basis by both Radio and Television. But I can confirm that TMS will have commentary on England's forthcoming test matches in Sri Lanka.

    On the DRS and bowling action debates - Dave Richardson the ICC general manager is joining us during the lunch interval on saturday and will be able to answer some of the questions I would hope. Also during lunch on friday we will try to discover how Pakistan have managed to turn things around.

  • Comment number 61.

    Adam

    Are Channel 5 (Or any terestrial channel for that matter) giving us non-sky fans a 45 minute slot at the end of each day again or has that yet to be decided?

  • Comment number 62.

    @55 - That was a bit of rant at an earlier post tbh. I think he's great in England, and would be good in Australia and South Africa as well as the pitches offer good pace, bounce and some seam and swing movement.. He exploits that well. BUT there's no getting away from the fact that he was utter tosh in the World Cup and to be quite frank would have been much worse in this series had Pakistan actually been able to bat. The last time I ever remember Pakistan win anything because of their batsmen was when they had the trio of Inzamam, Younis and Yousuf.. All in tandem and all in great form about 7 years ago.

  • Comment number 63.

    Also -
    1. I think Broad is by far England's best seamer and one for all conditions.

    2. Steve Finn is a wicket taker. A little expensive but his job is to take wickets and I feel he is good enough to do that anywhere in the World.

    3. Graeme Swann has lost the aura of invincibility he had at the World Cup when he was so efortlessly dispatched of by the great Sachin Tendulkar and then later Kevin O'Brien and the SL openers.

    4. Morgan should not, and never have been, allowed near the Test team. Just not good enough.

    5. Definitely premature to be talking about dropping Pieterson and Bell as they were two of Engald's best batsment last year. Everyone endures some bad form at times.

    6. Strauss is still only there because he's the captain - Question is, how long do you put up with his form? Definitely would like to know England fans' opinions on that.

    Also, Don't be India. Don't be so rigid just because you make it to the top. A team has to continually adapt with its team selection and tactics to counter different teams, pitches and conditions to stay on top.

  • Comment number 64.

    Whilst I agree you pick your best team.

    If a player is found to have an inherent weakness on Sub-c pitches why continue to pick them for those tours unless they sort themselves out. The tour party to SL may have to consider this scenario.

    Morgan is still new to the game and had was also out through injury. Will he adapt only time will tell, I for one hope so.

  • Comment number 65.

    DRS moves the test game back closer to the bowlers as it doesn't seem to matter how far down the wicket you get to try and negate the spin.

    Funny considering how T20 is considered to favour the batsman..

  • Comment number 66.

    #63 I agree with a lot of what you say.

    Regarding Broad, before the series against India he was mainly memorable for a couple of excellent spells in the odd series, but in general he bowled far too short. If he continues this form, then he could be genuinely world class.

    I can't make my mind up about Strauss because as I said before, it's difficult to know from the outside how important his partnership with Flower is to the team, how responsible he is for team unity and morale, tactics, etc. There isn't an obvious replacement as opener, and I can't get excited about Cook as captain, who is obviously the person being groomed to take over. I'd give Strauss a while longer, but I can't decide how long that might be!

    Talking about rigidity, I agree that we are not flexible enough, so I was pleasantly surprised we went in with two spinners in the last match. I wonder if any part of their decision was based on worries that Finn would be expensive?

  • Comment number 67.

    Ah, the partnership with Flower is the key, and something we'll not know much about! But judging from Swann's book, Strauss is well liked and pretty important. And like you said with no obvious replacement there's probably no need to exert any extra pressure on him.

    What is too expensive though? If he's taking wickets regularly surely that would make up for it? It would also help the other bowlers no?

  • Comment number 68.

    I agree completely with Vaughan in being mystified by England's timid approach to the series to date. Ajmal is undoubted class and the left armer decent but not a world beater. The approach just doesn't make sense and yet the coaching team are normally so miticulous in their planning and approach and we hit the ground running. It's not as if the batters have never experienced the sub-continent before either.

    In fairness to Strauss and Flower, I thought the schedule was right in terms of a proper break following The Ashes and India. Getting two three-days warm up's is probably about all that was possible over there, totally different availability to Australia or West Indies tour.

    Its official! Pietersen is the England cricket teams new Frank Lampard i.e. unless he performs every single innings his head is called for and he becomes public enemy number one. Utterly ridiculous. He's frustrated me often before but the guy is proven class, scored big last winter and as long ago as.....oh yes, three tests back when he got 175.

    Morgan has never looked test class to me, just lacks that 'something' and is England's version of Michael Bevan in a one-day specialist but not test class. He's one of those who if he scored twin hundreds in the next test would still never win the critics over and if he followed up with 0 in Sri Lanka would be back to square one.

    Far more crucial to me is Strauss and I long for him to find his early test career form. Hopefully he can re-enact his career saving innings in NZ a few years back.

    I'd like the current top seven (exception of Morgan) to remain in place through to next winter and looking on the positive side, hope this series has proved a wake-up call ahead of Sri Lanka. Pointless being number one in the world only in certain continents otherwise the sub-continent will become to us what Wimbledon was to Ivan Lendel.

  • Comment number 69.

    The defeat was far from England's worst. Losing to a Pakistan side who are strong at 'home' on a pitch offering some turn to two good spinners is not a disgrace. I was cheered to see Abdur Rehman get some headlines as he's been a seriously underrated spinner for a long time. The consistency of his bowling, marrying excellent command of variations in pace and flight, have brought him good reward and offers an interesting comparision to Panesar who also bowled well. A few years ago, the tabloids and various fans started jumping on Monty for not being able to pull out the Warnesque smorgasbord of variations and all of that talk affected his strengthes (consistency of delivery and his use of pace and the arm ball). Both Rehman and Panesar know their strengthes and it's heartening to see Monty back to form. In the light of the latest idiotic ECB decision to slap the County Championship about, Panesar's performance was a complete triumph in terms of showing how first-class cricket can first get you into the England team and then return you to it if you lose form. It's also pertinent to remember that STuart Broad's form last season was mostly dreadful until he hit his straps playing county cricket. As we slide inexorably toward another thrilling season (sarcasm) of IPL cricket, perhaps the like of Morgan and Pietersen should remember that.

    The gossip over Ajmal's action was quite the distraction. I for one don't believe his action is fully legal. The more slow-motion shots and still photographs I see, the more I question it. But the talk about it seemed to push the England batsmen into something akin to shellshock. As a series it's been bizarrely low-key which I don't think helps England. Pakistan playing 'home but away' as it were always have something to prove particularly in the light of the spot-fixing convictions and general disgrace brought to Pakiustan by some of its players and officials over the last few years. Pakistan are a nomadic team at present but one that has clearly come together strongly which is wonderful to see as the best of Pakistani cricket is superbly entertaining. England on the other hand don't seem fired up at all.

    I wouldn't drop any of them. Morgan is the one with his head on the block and I suspect failure in this Test will see changes for the Sri Lankan Tests.

    Finally, did anyone else read the article on the pitch at Galle and Warnaweera's comments on the criticism?

    “They only point the finger only when something happens in an Asian country. Similar incident happened in Australia but did not accuse anybody,” Mr Warnaweera told BBC Sinhala service."

    Lawksamercy. Do you forget the barrage of criticism the West Indies for two shocking pitches in the past? Ease up on the defensive attitude, bro'.

  • Comment number 70.

    Always enjoy reading your comments Andy.

  • Comment number 71.

    In answer to post 61. Channel 5 have been awarded the rights to show terrestial highlights again in a new four year deal with the ECB.

  • Comment number 72.

    I guess it's all very well Andy Flower saying that they were undercooked but for what are very highly paid professionals to turn in two such abject performances in the space of two weeks is unforgiveable. If I'd turned in two performances of that ineptitude at work, I'd have been collecting my P45. Sorry gent's but on these perfomances' you really don't need me to tell you that you don't deserve the number one ranking.

  • Comment number 73.

    In reply to Tony Torrance (Message 50)

    a. Why on earth should Pakistan be banned from playing cricket?

    Pakistan has the third best record in Test history, after Australia and England. Banning one of the world's greatest cricketing nations is absurd. Pakistan has won two World Cups, and I can see them winning several more in years to come.

    b. Mr Ajmal's action is legal, otherwise he wouldn't be playing. The umpires don't have any problem with his action, so goodness knows why Bob Willis chose to question Mr Ajmal's action during the first Test in Dubai.

  • Comment number 74.

    England still can't play spin. England excellent form had to dip at some point soon at least it has happen against an unpredictable Pakistan team that is playing pretty good

  • Comment number 75.

    very nice discussion going on here, apart from someone asking for pakistan cricket to be banned. LOL
    I do not think england need to change anything, they are still the best test team in the world and morgan will eventually become a good batsman. Ravi bopara is a proven faliure.
    and Kevin Pieterson along will cook are two best batsmen in your team, I would never think of dropping him at this instance.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think England lost because Pakistan played brilliantly. Pakistan was chasing the game from day 1, and they never let England go too far ahead, which proves that Pakistan can play well under pressure as well.
    Asad and Azhar partnerhip was a crucial turning point in the match, because remember they stopped a collapse, which English Batsmen failed to do in their 2nd innings.
    Misbah controlled the team brilliantly and they got the rewards.
    England just need to be a bit more positive with spin. Otherwise they will keep on digging graves for themselves against quality spinners.

  • Comment number 77.

    Some people are questioning saeed ajmal's action. But I dont think that is right because saeed ajmal has been cleared by the ICC once and since then, the umpires and match referees have not reported him.
    so we cannot really question his action.
    Remember 15 degrees of change in angle is allowed. and in two dimensional images, you never get the right pictures to judge that.

  • Comment number 78.

    and I forgot to say that strauss is the weakest link in england team, time for cook to be captain.

  • Comment number 79.

    I don't think there is a proper #1 team. Australia were dominant but now there is no one. EVERY team is just good at home (or in own conditions).

    India have been thrashed 4-0 twice in the last 2 away series.

    South Africa won 2 tests at home to Sri Lanka by a HUGE margin. The one test they got thrashed in ? Durban. On a slow pitch that turned they were spun out (Smith said he was unhappy the pitch was prepared like that)

    Australia did recently win 1-0 in Sri Lanka, but they are very beatable and the Aussies only managed a 1-1 draw at home to NZ.

    Look at England - Thumped Aussies, then an awful world cup (Sub-Con), Thrashed India, then lost 5-0 (OD's, S-C conditions), Now they are losing to Pakistan in Sub Con conditions, They will hammer WI and beat SA at home, Then lose at India.

    Pakistans claim at #1 is a long long way away. They would get hammered in most country's or at home against India. They have fragile batting (Which has done nothing) and relied on 2 spinners in helpful conditions.

    I think England are the number 1 but can't really play spin, Their bowlers though have done a fantastic job.

    I don't understand WHY England always play spin on the back foot. They look like getting out all the time. Eventually they miss a ball and get out LBW or bowled. 15 runs in the first 12 overs ? Awful.

  • Comment number 80.

    On the subject of actions. I think Ajmal and Malinga both throw the ball.

    They showed one replay on Sky where the arm was straight from SA and it was an obvious throw.

    I actually like Malinga but he throws it, and anyone with 2 eyes can see that.

    The ICC make excuses with the 'certain amount of degrees' rubbish but them players make them money.

    Watching Malinga bowl and hearing people say he doesn't chuck it is hilarious when you watch him bowl.

  • Comment number 81.

    "Number One ranking at stake in Dubai"

    really? no kidding Sherlock!

  • Comment number 82.

    I see all the whingers turning up with the "oh they throw the ball" excuses again.

    If England can't play good bowlers they either look to change the rules or keep whinging and accusing until something changes in their favor (any guesses that DRS will suddenly be out of favor by England in the near future? :-).. in the past this strategy worked... not anymore... just get on with it!!

  • Comment number 83.

    We're questioning Malinga's action now? It's not even the Sri Lanka series yet and he doesn't play Tests!

    Malinga's action is perfectly fine in fact I've never heard anyone but Joe Public (not commentators, players or authorities). First thing throwing/chucking in Cricket is the act of straightening the arm during delivery. Pictures of Malinga don't even suggest he's doing this. The round arm action he does is incredibly odd, looks wrong to the eye and you would never coach it in a million years. However the fact remains there is no law against it within Cricket and never has been. There is nothing saying you must bowl with your arm perpendicular to the pitch it's just what you taught to do.

    I defend Ajmal, Muralitharan, etc. with some degree of faith that if they were bowling illegally they'd be caught. However to suggest they don't have have suspect actions would be a little unfair to those who question them. When it comes to Malinga your just flat out wrong.

    http://www.lords.org/laws-and-spirit/laws-of-cricket/laws/law-24-no-ball,50,ar.html

  • Comment number 84.

    I also want to have a minor dig at the pundits:

    1. they kept saying it would be hard to get a result on these pitches. 6.5 days to get 2 test results...not that hard.

    2. After Englands first innings in the first test..."you need to be patient on these pitches, defend well and put the bad balls away"...now..."They arent agressive enough, they need to attack more". Yes, I know theres a happy medium, but if you get out playing an attacking shot you get crucified by pundits, no wonder they get defensive.

  • Comment number 85.

    #83 - He might just be within the laws in terms of 'degree the arm bends' but he still chucks it.

    #84 - We get stuck on the crease with no footwork. 15 runs in the first 12 overs is shocking and set the tone.

  • Comment number 86.

    #84 Very true. Broad successfully smashed the ball around in the 1st innings of the last match and was praised for it. On another day he'll try the same and get out cheaply, and be criticised for being irresponsible, etc

  • Comment number 87.

    As a friend rightly defined chucking as an act of straightening the arm while delivering the ball. and 15 degrees of chucking is allowed by ICC. Hence I can safely say that "chucking is allowed by ICC."
    So, saying that ajmal and malinga are chuckers, does not mean anything.
    And just to put everything into perspective, Mr. Mcgrath was also a chucker.
    So learn to play spin and get on with it.

  • Comment number 88.

    @86 - The thing about Broad's innings was how he managed to negate the spin. There were a few lucky shots in there that may have got him out another day but all in all he was reading the length early and getting to the pitch of the ball with a very good long stride and that made it easier for him to play the spinners. Very much in contrast to the rest.

  • Comment number 89.

    Broad played the right kind of shots for his innings as required. The attempts of the tail collapse in the last innings were correct as well. If Strauss and Cook began that way in the first innings I wouldn't have an issue. The problem is when chasing down a small target you should go at it full pelt unless you loose early wickets. The fact remains England were nowhere near the target when Cook was out despite him being at crease for a huge amount of time.

    #85 If choose to ignorant of what is against the laws even ignoring ICC allowance of 15 degrees Malinga is not a chucker. I suggest you read up the history of round arm bowling and the laws rather than try to claim something thats factually incorrect.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think Broad's was an excellent knock, but the point remains that on another day he could have mistimed one of those shots early on and spooned up a catch, and some members of the press and public would criticise him for being reckless considering the state of the match. Not me.

    There's no doubt we were far too negative in the 2nd innings and Cook and Strauss set the tone. Generally we should play with an aggressive intent and not let the opposition dictate to us.

  • Comment number 91.

    @Fallenfaith. Cheers, m'dear! I like to babble :)

    @gunnerskhan:

    "Remember 15 degrees of change in angle is allowed. and in two dimensional images, you never get the right pictures to judge that."

    If we can't judge him through two-dimensional pictures, then presumably you'd also eradicate the DRS given that an umpire is reviewing a two-dimensional image. You say that McGrath was a chucker. Technically under the old regulations he was. I defy you to find one picture or piece of footage that shows McGrath's arm as bent as Ajmal's. Absolutely night and day between those two players.

    Murali was fingered by the study for his doosra which did have a degree of arm straightening. The fascinating thing about him is that his off break didn't feature the arm straightening. I've had numerous arguments with people about bowlers who bowl with a bent arm. Under the regulations, I'd be completely legal if I kept my arm bent constantly at 12 degrees for instance through the bowling action. As I approach 34, maybe it's time to devise some devious devilish action to confound the masses...

    But chucking, chucking, throwback time... Brett Lee had tongues wagging, the late Peter Roebuck had a spot of Flintoffisachucker-itis, Shaun Tait puzzled people, a few glances have been made at Junaid Khan, Charlie Griffith is an enigma, and Sonny Ramadhin admitted he threw some deliveries. Saeed Ajmal is the one man who makes me wince when I see him bowl.

  • Comment number 92.

    DRS is not to find chucking. Three dimensional images are required to find the exact amount of change in angle of arm while delivering the ball.
    There is no need for three dimensional images for DRS.
    Mcgrath did have some degrees of staightening in his delivering arm, which was scientifically proved. But it is within the 15 degrees limit, and so is ajmal.
    I agree with you that saeed ajmals' action looks all messed up and mcgrath's looks good.
    But in two dimensions you cannot judge it right. because your shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, so your arm can move in three directions. it is difficult to tell you here but there is complete scientific reason behind this.
    Anyway, the point is that umpires in the middle are not reporting it ( who can see it in real time in 3D), so they are happy with it.
    We should not then question it.

 

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