Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pakistan Mimics England's Blueprint For Test Success

They say in life you have an affection and attraction to what you relate too. In my near on 60 years of obsession for the game of cricket, this has seen me have a real association with the incendiary nature of the Pakistani cricketing mannerisms. Supremely unpredictable, to the point that the known can become the unknown in the blink of an eye, and with a further blink.....well anything is possible from the impossibly sublime or even the ridiculous

Sadly for the serving of my sadistic whims, the last 18 months since the shame of the English tour has seen Pakistan turn their collective backs on what has so identified them. The epitome of this has been the replacing on their glittering razzle dazzle like batting in the Test arena with hard edged defensive mindsets.

This seen in a very discernible difference between a strike rate of 52.63 between 2005-2010 for the Pakistani top 7 batsmen to 44.42 since September 2010. In the face of these figures, you cannot deny that it has been a tactical ploy by the Pakistani brains trust to buy into more traditional styles of batting.

Obviously inspired by the loss of the Teams rapier like threat in the form of a bowling master in Mohammad Asif and his precociously talented apprentice in Mohammad Asif. So it was needed for the batting to become a rock to support an inexperienced and unknown bowling unit in the Test arena.

Away from the need of the change, the inspiration of this style of play has been seen in the rise of the English Team in the Test arena. Which has been very much facilitated by a stringent adherence to the traditions of batsmanship.

An England Team that has embraced defensive mannerisms despite the infiltration of the games obsession over T20, and its batting flash into the Test arena. In an age where scorn is heaped on run rates that aren't ticking over at 4 an over despite the very giving nature of batsmen in regards to their wickets. Then various batting implosions that have gone with it.

It is almost surreal in saying this, but you actually have to get the batsmen from both line ups out!

The balls bowled per dismissal and respective averages show this with England's top 7 facing 105.61 (average 59.70) and Pakistan facing 98.42 balls (average 43.72). Compare this to other Teams with them ranging between the lowest of 68.99 balls faced per dismissal (average 31.51) of the West Indies to 82.67 (average 37.41) of Sri Lanka

Success has duly followed with England rising to number one, and Pakistan being undefeated in a series in the Test arena. Since it's ill fated England tour of last year.

In mimicking the English blueprint of success, the Pakistani batting still has a long way to go in the perfection of its application. This due to they have facilitated success through them supporting their strong bowling to excel through the no risk approach of their batting, but haven't garnered more success through the batting imposing itself more on games.

Ask any Pakistani fan, and they will be appreciative in the success of the Team, but almost driven to despair with the stone walling style of batting. Which has a similar appeal to them as watching grass grow.

Patience and persistence will see the gears appearing in the batting through natural maturation of the youngsters in the Team as well as subtle re jigging of the personnel. The maturation will come from the likes of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafique being more assured at the level, and with it adding more adventure into the resolute nature of their Test infancy.

Mohsin Khan and Umar Akmal
Then in Umar Akmal, Pakistan has a perfect test number 4. As he showed in breath taking displays of marrying sublime stroke play from the top shelf with real Test calibre in his debut series in New Zealand against a rampant Shane Bond. He has been sent back to First Class cricket for an Ian Bell type penance of a few years back with these words from current Pakistani Coach Mohsin Khan ringing in his ears

'Go and play domestic cricket and learn to play big innings. Learn to turn your thirties and forties into hundreds for the team. Stop being selfish.'"

Like Ian Bell's return to the Test arena where he has truly dominated with the complete style of his batting. I am sure when the wax falls out of young Umar's ear, and he realises the sublime talent he has duly he will resemble Bell's impending mastery in the Test arena.

Supported by a bowling unit that is beginning to show a real completeness of threat in both spin and pace.

If Pakistan marries an imposing nature with its current resolute batting it is a recipe for a Pakistan Team that could challenge for ownership of the Test summit.

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