England opening batsman Marcus Trescothick conceded that England had been outplayed in Pakistan, and pinpoints Shoaib Akhtar as the difference:
There’s no point making excuses: we were outplayed, simple as that. They had qualities that we didn’t. Most critically, they had Shoaib Akhtar, who bowled better than I have ever seen him bowl before. Sure, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Danish Kaneria had big series, too, but it was Shoaib who kept putting us under pressure early on in our innings. Without him, Pakistan would have been a much less fearsome unit.
Shoaib is a huge figure in world cricket; a volatile, dynamic, and emotional man who has a huge role to play in Pakistani cricket, and I wrote about him at length the other day.
Trescothick also muses about the lessons England need to take from their defeat:
But the lesson here is that we have to learn to adapt. You can still be positive by scoring at two runs an over. We have to become flexible enough to control any situation.
The best example of this was our run-chase at Multan, which ended in failure and so set the tone for the series. We had two half-decent partnerships – first Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell, and then Geraint Jones and Shaun Udal – which relied on playing patiently and seeing off the bowlers. While it would have been nice to dash to a quick win – and the pitch wasn’t getting any younger – hindsight certainly suggests we were too eager that day.
You don’t get many opportunities to win games in Pakistan, so it really hurt to let that opportunity slip. We had outplayed them for most of the match, and if we had won it, I’m sure the whole tour would have been a completely different story.
In a three Test series, it is so hard to come back after you’ve dropped the First Test. Mismanaging the runchase as they did, England will have to learn if they want to do better in the sub-continent in future.