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Top of the world? - You're havin' a laugh

Lillian Thomson

International Coach
Any thoughts that England are about to challenge Australia's supremacy at Test level have surely been dispelled. In fact if you look past the first eleven the cupboard is worringly bare. When Simon Jones was injured he was replaced with a bits and pieces, sub Test standard allrounder. Trying to find a second spinner lead to the selection of a 36 year old making his debut. The average cricket fan has probably never heard of some of the replacements sent for on the current tour. The wicketkeeper is not Test standard and is chosen for his batting. Now with Strauss missing the final Test we will once again probably see Collingwood filling in unless they choose Cook(who?)
In a nutshell there is no quality back-up batsman, no world class spinners, a below standard wicketkeeper and no back up seam bowlers of any quality.
 

andyc

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
True, the lack of depth is a bit worrying (for them), but the first XI is pretty damn good.
 

Pedro Delgado

International Debutant
I'm happy enough being second or even third best in the world to be honest, I've enjoyed the last few years and some of the cricket has been sensational, it wasn't going to go on forever this run of series wins, and I'm glad Pak have given us a fight. Let's be thankful for where we are now I say.
 

Neil Pickup

Cricket Web Moderator
I love English cricket fans. Two slightly off-games and suddenly it's find the nearest skyscraper and get ready to hurl yourself off it. It's been a great series so far - and it's not like Australia have any back up seam bowlers either. How many casual fans had heard of Tait? Australia picked Nathan Hauritz nine months ago. We just need a little more middle order stickability - Inzamam's been the difference this series.

I've got complete faith in Duncan
 

andyc

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
You know I never actually really thought of it, but it is a valid point you bring up, just to expand from my first post. You look at Australia and you have people who haven't played tests (or a lot of them) like Michael Hussey (52.93), David Hussey (54.15), Phil Jaques (55.03), and Brad Hodge (46.83), and they're just the ones I know from the top of my head. Now, I could be completely wrong here, and I have no real idea about the English county system, but I wouldn't be so sure that England has that sort of depth.
 

a massive zebra

International Vice-Captain
Since Thorpe left England have lost the ability to bat under pressure. If England hadn't batted first in the ashes most of the time, theres a good argument we wouldnt have won it. They just dont seem to bat as a team, they bat as individuals. They seem to pride themselves on the fact that someone in the team will make a good score, well that just isnt good enough. They need to be batting for partnerships in my book and stop playing silly shots. Assuming Fletcher's blatant love of Paul Collingwood doesn't get the better of him, Mr Cook looks set to make his Test debut, so perhaps he could be the sort of batsmen we need.
 

pskov

International 12th Man
andyc said:
You know I never actually really thought of it, but it is a valid point you bring up, just to expand from my first post. You look at Australia and you have people who haven't played tests (or a lot of them) like Michael Hussey (52.93), David Hussey (54.15), Phil Jaques (55.03), and Brad Hodge (46.83), and they're just the ones I know from the top of my head. Now, I could be completely wrong here, and I have no real idea about the English county system, but I wouldn't be so sure that England has that sort of depth.
Ali Cook, the first resereve on this tour, is not yet 21 and averages 43 (52 last season scoring nearly 1500 runs, not including his double century against the aussies). Owais Shah has eally come on in recent years, scoring over 3000 runs in the last two seasons at over 60 to go with 1000 runs for 5 straight years now. Ed Joyce averages nearly 50 in his career and has scored 1000 runs for fours straight years. And then there is Robert Key (who remeber does actually have a test double hundred to his name), Mark Butcher and a few others who would be emergency call ups.

So whilst I'm not saying that we have the depth of Australia (I don't think any team does), the cupboard is certainly not bare.
 

SJS

Hall of Fame Member
Every team that gets the better of Australia (even stays on level terms with them) is suddenly expected to take over the top spot and all other cricketing nations are expected to fall before them as they are expected to do before the Aussies. India and Indians have suffered from such illusions of grandeus anly to be brought to earth with a crash and England are no different.

Winning the Ashes was as much a guarantee of scraping the floor with all comers in for the next couiple of years as was India's tremendous show in 2001 at home.

Englnad have lost a match to Pakistan not to minnows like Zimbabwe.

Pakistan who are known to be a talented side. Inzemam, Shoaib, Kaneria, Mohammad Yousuf etc would find places in most sides in the world. So why should it be such a massive surprise. Pakistan at home, IF THEY PLAY TO POTENTIAL, which doesnt always happen, have always been a very tough team.

England fan's disappointment is the result of reading far too much into one series win even if the opponents were Australia.

AND Australia are NOT the side they were. So beating them now and then is not that great a feat anymore.
 

Scaly piscine

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
We can not judge the strength in depth of a team by purely looking at FC stats. For all anyone knows all of the batsmen listed so far with strong FC averages might be Ramprakashes at Test level - we simply do not know the strength in depth til a string of injuries come along and we see the underlings play Tests for a while.
 

Barney Rubble

International Coach
Lillian Thomson said:
Any thoughts that England are about to challenge Australia's supremacy at Test level have surely been dispelled. In fact if you look past the first eleven the cupboard is worringly bare. When Simon Jones was injured he was replaced with a bits and pieces, sub Test standard allrounder. Trying to find a second spinner lead to the selection of a 36 year old making his debut. The average cricket fan has probably never heard of some of the replacements sent for on the current tour. The wicketkeeper is not Test standard and is chosen for his batting. Now with Strauss missing the final Test we will once again probably see Collingwood filling in unless they choose Cook(who?)
In a nutshell there is no quality back-up batsman, no world class spinners, a below standard wicketkeeper and no back up seam bowlers of any quality.
Bear in mind this performance in Pakistan was achieved a) without the captain in the first game, who is also one of our best batsmen, and with a waste of space in his position, and b) without world cricket's best fast-bowling prospect of the last 12 months, who's been replaced by a 36-year-old who's actually playing on pitches that don't suit him anyway. If Vaughan and Jones had been playing, things may well have gone differently, and people might be saying "Wow, England are 1-0 up with 1 to play, they could win 2-0 in Pakistan, that's a great performance - maybe they are the team to overtake Australia". You can't judge from 2 games. Judge from the last 2 years - we've beaten pretty much everyone, including Australia, so if they're gonna lose their crown, chances are it'll be to us.
 

Scaly piscine

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
Barney Rubble said:
Bear in mind this performance in Pakistan was achieved a) without the captain in the first game, who is also one of our best batsmen, and with a waste of space in his position, and b) without world cricket's best fast-bowling prospect of the last 12 months, who's been replaced by a 36-year-old who's actually playing on pitches that don't suit him anyway. If Vaughan and Jones had been playing, things may well have gone differently, and people might be saying "Wow, England are 1-0 up with 1 to play, they could win 2-0 in Pakistan, that's a great performance - maybe they are the team to overtake Australia". You can't judge from 2 games. Judge from the last 2 years - we've beaten pretty much everyone, including Australia, so if they're gonna lose their crown, chances are it'll be to us.
A bit harsh on Bell there...
 

Lillian Thomson

International Coach
Barney Rubble said:
Bear in mind this performance in Pakistan was achieved a) without the captain in the first game, who is also one of our best batsmen, and with a waste of space in his position, and b) without world cricket's best fast-bowling prospect of the last 12 months, who's been replaced by a 36-year-old who's actually playing on pitches that don't suit him anyway. If Vaughan and Jones had been playing, things may well have gone differently, and people might be saying "Wow, England are 1-0 up with 1 to play, they could win 2-0 in Pakistan, that's a great performance - maybe they are the team to overtake Australia". You can't judge from 2 games. Judge from the last 2 years - we've beaten pretty much everyone, including Australia, so if they're gonna lose their crown, chances are it'll be to us.
That just proves my original point about the cupboard being bare. One injury is a crisis.
 

chaminda_00

Hall of Fame Member
I don't think people are giving enough credit to how good this Pakistan really is. This Pakistan side at full strength or slightly below are capable of pushing Australia and England for the top spot. They probably have the best depth going around in Test Cricket. Asim Kamal and Hasan Raza are very good reserve batsmen. Abdul Razzaq is already better then the best all rounder in Australia, Shane Watson. Then you look at their bowling depth Gul, Rana, Mushtaq and Saqlain, a lot better then Engand or Australia. If they can improve the consistency of their 1st XI and find the right combinations they could be a brilliant side.
 
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Lillian Thomson

International Coach
chaminda_00 said:
I don't think people are giving enough credit to how good this Pakistan really is. This Pakistan side at full strength or slightly below are capable of pushing Australia and England for the top spot. They probably have the best depth going around in Test Cricket. Asim Kamal and Hasan Raza are very good reserve batsmen. Abdul Razzaq is already better then the best all rounder in Australia, Shane Watson. Then you look at their bowling depth Gul, Rana, Mushtaq and Saqlain, a lot better then Engand or Australia. If they can improve the consistency of their 1st XI and find the right combinations they could be a brilliant side.
No one would dispute how strong Pakistan are, especially at home. The only point I was trying to make is that England don't have the strength in depth to overtake Australia at the top. Australia had a year without Shane Warne yet replaced him with another Test class bowler. For 18 months Brett Lee couldn't even get in the side, and class batsman like Stuart Law hardly got a look in. It's true Australia don't appear to have the quality in reserve that they've had in recent years but a decline was inevitable, it will interesting to see how quickly this slight decline is reversed.
 

chaminda_00

Hall of Fame Member
TBF i think England do have a fair amount of depth in batting, Ali Cook looks brilliant and probably better then Australian batsmen coming through. Key, Shah and Joyce are all very capable especially Joyce and Key, and i would rate Shah on par with David Hussey. The selection of Collingwood was a mistake, but Australia have made similar mistakes, Brad Williams, Nathan Hautriz.

England only major concern in depth is fast bowling and spin bowling, but in saying that Chris Tremett is probably better then Nathan Bracken and others. Also outside MacGill and Warne, Australia don't have much interms of spin bowling. Dan Cullen averages 32 with the ball and both Udal and Loudon average similar in the last two seasons.
 

Pratters

Cricket, Lovely Cricket
I stated on the matter about a month ago in the forum and am copy pasting the stuff.

The English cricket team is at crossroads right now. There is no question that the team is number two in the world. Series win versus the Kiwis, South Africans, the Windies and Australia recently have shown England to be the unquestionable number two.

The thing is a few teams have claimed that spot over the past decade. South Africa was the unquestionable number 2. But they could not match up to Australia and went into decline post 2003.

India was the team to watch a year and a half back. At that point of time they had a home series victory versus the Australians, had drawn the series down under and had just beaten Pakistan in Pakistan. But then the party was over. A home series loss to Australia and again like South Africa failing to raise that level meant they did not reach much higher.

Kiwi fans had the firm belief that they had the rightful place at number 2. A session of havoc caused by Shoaib Akhtar meant they lost a series to Pakistan at home. Then they had the injury prone tour of England where England were the convincing winners. And with that the talk of Kiwis posing a challenge disappeared into thin air.

England is at the same stage right now. When the going gets tough, the champion teams get going. England have lost the first test to Pakistan by a close margin. They are also in a crisis of sorts with not having their full strength team. However when we look back at the current series and the one to be played in India in the future, those aspects will not be looked at.

The team England is challenging right now for the top spot has an superb record in the subcontinent. This is in sharp contrast to Australia the world champions in the late 90s. If England was to challenge for the number 1 spot maybe 5 years earlier, they could have been hailed as world champions just by beating Australia in Australia in a little more than 12 months.

The current situation, however, requires England to at least draw one of the two series and win the other. Can England do it despite having a pace centric attack rather than a spin centric attack? Australia did it in India only when they relied on their strength and opted not to change too many things. South Africa, which was the first team to break the jinx of away teams losing in India did it with a rather weak spin attack. The Windies team won every where with their pace battery. So the key is to focus on the strengths rather than change too many things.

England faces a challenge as would any team eyeing for a top spot. The team has shown that they will not give up without a fight. One thing is for sure, cricket fans and not just the English supporters will be tracking England’s progress.


There was some interesting discussion on the matter with good inputs by the David and a few others in the England-Pakistan thread but didnt carry on much.
 

Hazza

U19 Cricketer
chaminda_00 said:
I don't think people are giving enough credit to how good this Pakistan really is. This Pakistan side at full strength or slightly below are capable of pushing Australia and England for the top spot.
I agree, and if this argument has come about because of England's recent struggles in Pakistan then I think that's not a solid place to prove a team's worth. Pakistan is an incredibly difficult place to win in, with supreme batting tracks that cannot be rivaled by anywhere else in the world. Also you have to consider England could be 1-0 up right now if they had won the toss in Multan. Obviosuly i'm not saying that winning the toss secures the match, but in a place like Pakistan it does have a great bearing on the series result.

In the bowling department, I don't think England's cupboard is bare. We have wonderful players such as Plunkett and Anderson waiting to get selection, and criticism of Udal and Giles in these conditions where there is almost nothing for the spinners is very harsh. Obviosuly we lack the experience in our backup seam attack, but we have young talent to replace it.
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
chaminda_00 said:
I don't think people are giving enough credit to how good this Pakistan really is. This Pakistan side at full strength or slightly below are capable of pushing Australia and England for the top spot. They probably have the best depth going around in Test Cricket. Asim Kamal and Hasan Raza are very good reserve batsmen. Abdul Razzaq is already better then the best all rounder in Australia, Shane Watson. Then you look at their bowling depth Gul, Rana, Mushtaq and Saqlain, a lot better then Engand or Australia. If they can improve the consistency of their 1st XI and find the right combinations they could be a brilliant side.
Are you kidding?

To say that Pakistan are somewhat underrated is fine, but pushing for top spot? Asim Kamal is indeed a good reserve batsman (though he should be in the main team ahead of mediocre players like Shoaib Malik), but Hasan Raza isn't in the same league as many reserve batsmen in both Australia and England, I find it hard to believe that anyone considers Mushtaq and Saqlain today to be better than MacGill, and Gillespie and Kasprowicz, out of form or not, are certainly far more proven than Gul or Rana, one of whom is a walking injury and the other is largely innocuous at test level when the ball isn't swinging.

Pakistan, given the fight they've shown against India and England recently and the potential of bringing guys like Kamal and Gul into the team, could have a fair claim to be in fourth spot after Australia, England and South Africa, but anything more is hugely premature.

Let's not forget that a very similar team toured Australia last year and were whitewashed in the tests and won a single ODI.
 

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