Lutters’ 2012 winter lines - part three

ENGLAND’S misery was complete in Dubai as the tourists succumbed by 71 runs to complete a fully-deserved whitewash and 3-0 victory for Pakistan.

Repercussions will no doubt follow from the England camp, but all they have to do now is lick their wounds and hope that there will be some improvement in the one-day series.

Pakistan were the first team in around a century to win a test match having scored less than one hundred in their first innings and then go on to complete the victory. The same old demons haunted England, while once again their bowling was the only thing that made them competitive and the batting let them down badly.

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This is a hammer blow for England, but if they want to remain the number one test playing nation on the planet, they need to win on the subcontinent against India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan in their own back yard.

To be honest, the pitches in the United Arab Emirates weren’t typical of the region and offered the bowlers far more than anyone expected, certainly for the seamers.

That said, the three seamers that we saw in the main during the series, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Umar Gul are world class, but the seam and swing in evidence were beyond the three’s wildest dreams. Chris Tremlett, Cheema and Junaid Khan were very much bit-part players.

We all knew it would spin and the four main spinners, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar all took advantage of the conditions, as did Hafeez for the hosts.

The combination of spinning conditions and the form of the seamers meant that there was no hiding place or rest-bite for a bunch of batsmen out of form.

That said, the averages for the England top six make sorry reading. Jonathan Trott topped them but with a mediocre mid-20s and the usually classy looking Ian Bell averaged below 10. No side, no matter how good their bowling, will win a match when they score so few runs.

Andy Flower and Abdrew Strauss has stated that there won’t be wholesale changes, but in the same breath also said that the top six wasn’t a closed shop, so Eoin Morgan will have a huge amount of pressure on him when he plays his next innings for England.

The others seem fairly safe despite their recent form as they have solid stats under their belt, the thing Morgan lacks in the long form of the game.

The bowling was the real plus point for both sides, but one must temper that with the fact that both side’s batting line ups were frail in the main, with low scores dotted all over the series.

Broad was the pick of England’s attack and Anderson improved as the series went on. The return of Panesar makes selecting an attack for the next test match in Sri Lanka potentially tough if England chose to stick with a four pronged affair.

Swann was a little disappointing, but didn’t bowl that badly and Trott proved that he can be useful with the ball in sub-continental conditions.

The one-day series will see a different side for England, but they need to sort themselves out before the Sri Lanka tour or that number one spot will be a distant memory.

In fact, if South Africa whitewash New Zealand in their upcoming series, they will usurp England at the summit of test cricket anyway.