Pakistan v England, 1st Test, 2nd day thoughts

Another good day for England with a performance bordering on excellent – and certainly a disappointing and dismal one for Pakistan. Despite their extra-long tail, which is almost unheard of in these days of multi-dimensional cricketers and bowlers “that can bat a bit,” few expected them to capitulate as feebly as they did.

Mind you, it was due to some brilliant bowling from England. Each wicket-taking delivery would, I think, have accounted for better batsmen than the Pakistani tail. First to go was Sami, tempted into a swish outside off in Matthew Hoggard’s first over. Hoggard (perhaps unusually for him) was right on the money from ball one, in ideal dewy conditions, moving the ball away almost at will.

Andrew Flintoff, opening the bowling with Hoggard, accounted for Inzamam who remained England’s only thorn at the start of the day; but even he could only add a handful of runs to his overnight score. Again, Flintoff’s delivery was inch-perfect, squaring up Inzy and presenting Andrew Strauss with a sharp but undroppable chance at second slip, a position he is making his own. This was quality bowling, and England had suddenly seized the advantage.

It was all over very quickly. Pakistan had succumbed quickly and feebly, losing 5 for 30 in two fewer balls than 20 overs. Agony for the home side and, curiously, a “matter-of-fact” response from the visitors who appear almost to expect this kind of performance. Whether it’s due to years of my own agony in watching England capitulate, much like Pakistan had done today, or whatever – I can’t imagine the day where I expect England to perform like they did today.

The batting, then, was dominant, solid and few would have realised England’s woeful pre-Test form had been such a concern. Marcus Trescothick, who was one of the few afforded a run of form before this game, simply played a blinder; his 13th Test hundred was played with class, confidence and control throughout. Strauss was undone by pace and swing by Sami – who looks a prospect, but shouldn’t he be more than simply a potentially good bowler by now? – and Collingwood relit the doubts I have of his defensive technique, but it was otherwise a great batting display. Not least, indeed, by Ian Bell who was arguably the player under the most amount of pressure. His 71 (?) was solid, reliable and very unflashy – just the sort he needed, and I bet he’s secretly hoping his usual captain buggers off home to rest his knee…

10/10 England. Probably 2 for Pakistan.

Flintoff falls to McGrath!

GD does it again. Useful catch by Warne at first slip, pretty straightforward though. Fred just wafted outside off, and is gone for a really well-played 72. Massive wicket…England were starting to look comfortable. Five for 274, as the Aussies say. And it’s Paul Collingwood in now; what a match to make your Test comeback in!!!

Oh, and by the way, still just one slip. Who says Ponting’s captaincy is arthitic? Well – me, for one. Extraordinary…put the guy under pressure, surely?

Simon Jones not fit for The Oval

Great shame – mainly for him. He’ll be devastated, having played such a key part in this series. But this isn’t the “end,” as the BBC’s listeners seem to think, of England’s Ashes chances. Far from it.

So – Collingwood or Anderson?

Anderson and Collingwood in for fifth Test

James Anderson and Paul Collingwood have been drafted in for the fifth Test against Australia at The Oval. Surprised at Anderson’s recall…

More here

Collingwood called up for second Test

UPDATE: August 3, he’s been released to Durham. So Giles will play, and England field an unchanged team for the second Test

Paul Collingwood has been called up by England for the second Test, to increase their options.

David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, said: “It has been well documented that Birmingham has experienced unusually large amounts of rainfall in the last few days and this has put the ground authorities under extreme pressure. Having looked at the pitch it has been decided to add Collingwood to the squad so that England will have the maximum number of options available on match day.”

In other words: it’s been chucking it down, the pitch will do a lot, and they will need as many runs as possible (at the expense of Mr Giles, one presumes). More at Cricinfo.

England announce unchanged squad

UPDATE: August 1, Paul Collingwood has been called up.

Thank God. As Atherton says this morning, England must keep the faith, and by naming an unchanged squad they’re demonstrating that they’re not panicking (Mr Mannering). There really wasn’t much point in naming Collingwood (he would have been the only possible inclusion) over Giles, yet.

I refuse to be downbeat. A company phoned me (6 times) last week, and I eventually rang them back to tell them where to go, after they refused to leave a voicemail. The girl who answered was very chatty, and after establishing what the company wanted from me, our thoughts turned to cricket (as they do). She too was a fan, and her words are still echoing in my ears: “It’s one nil, not 3 nil. We can still win the Ashes”

As Atherton, again, says today:

Like Bull, I’m instinctively inclined to have more faith in this England team. Their achievements and recent record demand that – at least for a little while longer.

Cricinfo has some quotes and words.

Collingwood’s catch..

Paul Collingwood has just taken arguably the catch of the decade. I don’t think even Jonty Rhodes, Gibbs or Ponting could have matched it. Hayden cut it (smashed) to point, where Collingwood sprang up and took it high above his head and almost behind him – probably the second best fielder in the world before he took that catch. Australia are reeling at 64-4 – all wickets to Harmison. Extraordinary morning.

Collingwood as a Test batsman?

I recorded Extra Cover (Sky+ is essential for any cricket fan – it’s pretty much all I use it for, perhaps I’ll call it Cricket+) which I’m watching now, and Charles Colville is interviewing Paul Collingwood. I’m a fan of Colly’s, although not sure he quite has it at Test level. They’re mainly talking about his being pigeon-holed as an ODI specialist (like Fairbrother, Moody, Knight, Bevan etc). I’m too knackered to offer my opinion, so it’s up to you: is he in the running for a post-Thorpe batting slot?