Ashes 2010: Lessons from Pakistan

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91 Days Until The Ashes…

What an interesting English summer we have been witnessing. First of all it has been unique in that Pakistan hosted a test series against Australia on English soil, an odd situation in anyone’s language. But, more surprising has been the ability for a shambolic yet talented side to snatch test victories against both Australia and England. With just 93 days left until the Ashes, it is certainly interesting to see what each side may gain from their losses to this young Pakistani side.

Whether or not Pakistan manages to win the final test and draw their current series against England, they will certainly feel that they have taken big steps forward this English summer. Much of the deadwood of past Pakistani players who have continually under-performed, has been cleared, and Waqar Younis seems to have his side on the right track. Yes, they have at times been awful, but it is interesting to note that despite their incredible highs and lows, they have been able to claim test victories against much more experienced opponents.

The victory against Australia was, like the last test against England, actually much more emphatic than it appeared. Both times, Pakistan had late collapses that made the result close, but in reality had outplayed their opponents through the match. What can be taken from Pakistan’s win against Australia, is that top-level, swing and seam bowling can certainly unsettle Australia’s batting line-up. Now, obviously English conditions are very different to Australia, however England must know that they should focus on trying to get any kind of movement they can. Both Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir sacrifice a few yards of pace to try and make the ball wobble, and this must the English approach this Australian summer.

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad do have the ability to make the ball move both in the air and off the seam, and they must not be deterred in attempting to do this in Australia. Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting and Marcus North all go at the ball hard early in their innings, and thus are susceptible to movement, and furthermore Ponting and North are both low on confidence at the moment and could be targeted. England also have the advantage of a top-level spinner in Graeme Swann, but he can only do so much, and must have support from his frontline pace attack.

England is, in a way, in a similar position to Australia. Its batting looked very shaky in the last test, and in fact in the first two, where Pakistan managed to let them off by dropping an accumulated 18 catches. Credit must go to Alastair Cook, who battled through a form slump to compile a wonderful century, but Kevin Pieterson, Paul Collingwood and Jonathan Trott look shaky at best. It is Pieterson and Collingwood that would be of most concern to Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss at the moment. Collingwood has a lot of mental scarring from the Australians, and being out-of-form before the series won’t help. Pieterson is an odd case. He just seems to know one way, and thinks he can blast his way back into form. He must certainly look to Cook’s century for inspiration, as he will have to just put his head down and work his way back into form run by run.

“the real lesson to be learned from losses against Pakistan, is that each batting line-up has flaws that are ripe for exploitation

The advantage for England is that Australia’s bowling line-up seems far more unsettled. However, Mitch Johnson on Australian pitches is a different proposition altogether. Both bowling attacks are of course important, but the real lesson to be learned from losses against Pakistan, is that each batting line-up has flaws that are ripe for exploitation.

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