Whoa there, England. Weren’t you supposed to be one of the worst Test cricket teams in the world all of a sudden? Having watched Pakistan dispatch of Joe Root’s team with less sweat than perspired against Ireland, there was talk of whether England should be even allowed to play Test cricket anymore. And then, bam. A 2nd Test victory by an innings and some runs.
Who saw that coming?
England had already bowled very well in the first innings, showing what a ridiculous decision it was not to pick Chris Woakes in the first encounter before a sparkling knock by Joss Buttler, doing exactly what he was picked to do, built a commanding lead for England. Pakistan were then skittled by Anderson, Broad, Woakes and Curran all weighing in but also young Dom Bess. He can bat, now we can see he can bowl and did you see that catch? The next Andrew Flintoff, I am telling you. OK, maybe not but it is nice to see that gamble start to take steps in the right direction.
England now play a lot of the shorter stuff before India arrive later in the summer for some more alleged five-day action.
But have we actually answered the questions that were being asked of the team?
Joe Root said something in the press pre-match about still being a world-class team and that made me quickly check we hadn’t called in a truckload of new players.
We still need an opener who can play alongside Cook (who probably only has a few seasons left in the tank himself). Root has to either commit to being a number three and start scoring big there or we need to find someone else capable of making that slot their own. Dom Bess looked like a decent four, but of course I jest. I am still not convinced by Malan. Bairstow and Buttler have to play every match as does Ben Stokes. But, I have to say and I know this will upset someone who reads this, is Ben Stokes actually world class? Yes, he biffed that mega score a few years ago and yes, he is properly spiky with the ball but does he actually win matches on his own? I am not too sure at this stage, but we have few options around him.
And then we look at the bowling. Broad and Anderson are still just about world class in favourable English conditions but anything outside of that and, frankly, they are not that dangerous. Both have been wonderful servants, of course. Chris Woakes is a reliable English venue workhorse but again is found wanting off these shores, in my opinion. Naturally, we cannot label young Dom Bess world class just yet – there is potential but nothing more.
So, Joe Root – and let us not even discuss whether we have a world class captain, I don’t think you can claim this current side is anything near world class. I’m not even that convinced it has potential.
Sorry old chap.