Harmison adds to England’s woes

I get the strong impression that England are ready to come home. This often happens to touring sides that have had a tough Test series, and then have to play a ODI series afterwards; ideally, all tours should have the ODI’s first, because otherwise touring sides lose interest rather quickly.

It’s the 4th ODI today between Pakistan and England, and Steve Harmison is in doubt with the flu. Despite this latest blow, Duncan Fletcher is still selling a positive spin to the media.

But Fletcher remained optimistic that his team, who are 2-1 down in the series with two matches to play, would be able to bounce back regardless.

“We’ve just got to play the same way we did in that first game,” he added, harking back to a powerful performance at Lahore, in which England batted first and put the game beyond reach with a total of 327 for 4. “We need to show the same approach. If we win tomorrow, we’ll have a slight advantage going into the last game.

“It’s all about doing the basics right,” added Fletcher. “We need to look to bowl in the right areas consistently, and when we bat we mustn’t worry about looking for too big a score up front, and forgetting how to get there. Instead our top three batters need to lay a good platform.”

Despite a record-equalling 165-run defeat at Karachi, Fletcher denied that weariness was beginning to take its toll on the team, and pointed out that their fielding drill under the Rawalpindi lights had been as eager as ever on tour.

“We said all along before we came out here, it’s going to be a difficult tour,” said Fletcher. “They are a very talented side, and they’ve played well and done their homework. We’ve got to make sure we put up performances like we’ve managed in the past.”

I guess he had to say something like that. It wouldn’t go down very well if he said “The boys are tired, sore, and pining for home. It’s hard to keep the lads motivated just before Christmas, when they are thinking of their families, especially for a ODI series which, in the bigger picture, does not mean that much.”

Pakistan vs England, 3rd ODI

Kevin Pieterson is on his way home so he’ll miss the rest of the series. It seems as though he has a rib injury, although Corridor of Uncertainty staff haven’t been able to confirm a story that he had in fact been awarded the BBC “Chav of the Year” award. With Pakistan reinforced by the return of Shahid Afridi, I think they can go into this match as warm favourites.

Security is tight for the match…

With up to 3000 policemen drafted in to exercise crowd control, and the elite paramilitary Rangers on hand to protect the players as well, authorities on both sides are optimistic that the match will pass without a glitch.

Obviously the danger from Islamic terrorists the Barmy Army teenage cricket bloggers is being taken seriously so I’m sure the match will take place without a hitch.

England crash and burn… BBC blamed

Well, why not.. have to blame someone

England’s cricketers may think twice about receiving any more awards from the BBC. Only a few hours after their triumphs in Sunday night’s Sports Personality of the Year show, they embarked upon their darkest day of this whole disheartening tour.

Yesterday’s thumping seven-wicket defeat by Pakistan would have been bad enough were it not for the additional news that Kevin Pietersen is battling a cracked rib, and, worst of all, that the team’s much-loved bowling coach, Troy Cooley, has defected to Australia.

With the exception of another fine innings from Liam Plunkett, England were as insipid yesterday as they had been inspired on Saturday. No one can say for sure whether they had been affected by the previous night’s festivities, but the fact is that their three highest scorers had all gone to bed early, rather than staying up with the rest of the team for the BBC awards.

It really was a much better performance by Pakistan and I think normal service will resume for the rest of the series.

Pakistan vs England, 2nd ODI

I didn’t see where it was, but one British scribe said that with the variable conditions between batting first and batting second, it was a given that the side batting first would win 4 out of 5 of the games in this series.

Given Sod’s Law, the next four fixtures will see the side batting second win the next four games with ten overs to spare.

I hope Will is well and not too knackered from moving to have a chance to check out some cricket in the next few days.

Some dude called Flintoff won an award.

Pakistan vs England, 1st ODI

Okay, no one gives England much of a shot here, but you never know. Put your tears and gloats here!

England Warm up with a narrow loss

England have had a narrow loss to Pakistan A in their warm up game for the ODI series. Good features for England were contributions from Matt Prior, Paul Collingwood, and Jimmy Anderson.

Telegraph report.

England are not quite ready yet

David Hopps reports that with Michael Vaughan having surgery on his knee, England’s preparation for the ODI series against Pakistan are in a bit of disarray.

The Ashes series win against Australia was plotted and schemed for at least a year, perhaps longer; by contrast any modifications of approach for the five one-day matches against Pakistan will probably be scribbled down on the back of the circular pushed under all hotel doors yesterday promising “fabulous menus in the steak house from our executive chef Anjum”. Mushroom soup a speciality.

The uncertainty over Vaughan, the loss through injury of Ashley Giles, the time off for Strauss, who is expected back in Pakistan today after the birth of his son Samuel, have all added uncertainty to a one-day squad that, in any case, is showing few signs of settling.

I’ll have the soup.

More bad news for England

It looks like Michael Vaughan’s knee isn’t going to get better any time soon.

Trescothick- Shoaib was the difference

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.