Tomorrow’s first Test between England and Pakistan at Lord’s promising to be absolutely fascinating. The weather is set fair (possible thunderstorms at weekend but nothing major) and though both sides are afflicted by injuries, there will no let-up of excitement.
It is often said Pakistan are the most talented cricketing nation in the world. This was no truer than in the 1980s and 90s when, with Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis terrorising batsmen’s toes with their ferocious yorkers, and batsmen such as Saeed Anwar played with the most elasticsed wrists, they were a formidable outfit.
But it is Bob Woolmer who has transformed them from a team with explosive potential (the very ethos of Pakistani cricket) to one playing with greater responsibility and consistency. They are a fine, fine side and will be a treat to watch. The other day, Woolmer compared Inzamam-ul-Haq, his captain, to Hansie Cronje who he coached with such success in the 1990s. Like Cronje, Inzamam – that most laconic, almost regal of characters – is respected and adored by his troops.
Woolmer’s not to everyone’s tastes, but he is the most flexible, willing of coaches; indeed it is he who has helped nurture the importance of religion to the team: they all pray together, formally.
Beware Pakistan, England. And likewise Pakistan, watch out for a resurgant England. Trapped and caged by injuries and uncertainty in recent weeks, they are hurting. Nothing less than 100% will be acceptable at Lord’s; more so for England it is vital they win the first Test if they’re to prevent a trampling by Pakistan.
I’m on ball-by-ball at Cricinfo tomorrow along with Jenny (scorecard here) so perhaps you can let us know how we’re doing in the match “post” thread thing, here at the CoU, which will appear tomorrow morning before play.