Friday, January 6, 2012

Will England Use The 'Matt Prior Ace' Against Pakistan?

All Cricket fans are counting down the seconds till the start of the eagerly anticipated three Test series between Pakistan and England in the UAE. A series that has such tension attached to it after the shameful events that occurred the last time the two met, and that will well and truly give credibility to the Team that emerges from the clash.

In the sense that many have labelled England as 'fast track bullies' that have ascended to the top of the game without any performances of note in Asia, and in Pakistan's case they have just been written off as 'bullies'. That have gone undefeated for a year, but merely had this success by preying on the weak.

Fact or Fiction on the views of both will be discovered in this series

In the lead up to this series there has logically been much scutterbug about the flaws and merits of both Teams. Much of the focus being on the English Teams ability to adapt to the potential might of the Pakistani's in particular their lethal bowling unit in conditions that will so be in favour of them, and so foreign to England. Just think of stifling heat of 45+ and pitches as dead as a Dodo, and you can see the challenges that confront England.

In the face of this potential Everest, little or in fact nothing has been said of the massive ace that they have up their sleeve in terms of Matt Prior.............

In the sense of utilising his supreme all round skill that sees him being a top notch glove man as well as a batsman that has averaged 64.58 with 3 centuries in his last year by reverting him to 6 in the order for this series. This to allow 5 bowlers to play in brutal confines that need every support to that aspect of the line up

There is little doubt that Prior would excel in this role, and the thoughts behind it have great merit, but caution needs to be attached when you look at the strengths of the opposition.

The main string to Pakistan's bow is the quality and diversity in their attack that England has not encountered in its recent rise. They have faced and dealt with the immortal Dale Steyn and Co in a South African cauldron, but not an attack like this that has so much diversity of threat.

In regards to a very skilled and big hearted pace attack as well as a spin attack lead by the burgeoning genius of Saeed Ajmal, and his fellow twirlers that could make any batting line up look very silly.

I think this would be akin to making a decision to try to fix something that is not broken. Then with  it give Pakistan a foot in the door in the series before a ball is bowled.

For their pacemen all have a supreme mastery of all regards of swing and seam. That all the English will be supremely challenged by especially at the top of the order where Andrew Strauss has shown a distinct weakness against left armers who swing the ball. For which Pakistan have two of real ability in Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz. 

The pace attack has the potential to be a real match for the excellent English batsmen and that leads us to the spin unit that could overwhelm any batting line up. As well as more than likely neutralising the 7-9 batsmen in the line up that have been so proficient in the Teams rise. Especially Saeed Ajmal, who in the last year has showed emerging genius with a ball in his bag of tricks that is arguably the most lethal delivery since Shane Warne's flipper in his Doosra. When you factor in the left arm wily twirler in Abdur Rehman as well as Mohammad Hafees's off spin it become apparent that England would be better served in supporting its batting to blunt the Pakistan greatest weapon.

This best served by retaining Prior at 7, and keeping the sublimely unorthodox Eoin Morgan in the line up. Who could with his eccentric style of batting unnerve the spin onslaught enough to gain a real advantage for England

Logically people will point to the brutal conditions coupled with the expected road pitches and scream for the need of 5 bowlers. Though the fragility of the Pakistan batting makes you believe that 4 bowlers with the support of Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen as part timers could get the job done against them.

Especially when you factor into the picture the struggles that Pakistan have had of late with maintaining scoring rates to facilitate wins. This has been ok against the weaker Teams where they have just waited for their weaknesses to come to the fore and gift Pakistan the ascendency. Though England in a word are relentless in their support in the field for their bowling and their tactics against batsmen.

Duly the top 6 of defence minded Pakistan batsmen will be strangled into submission by the English meaning with their scoring options taken away. It will lead to risks entering their play and with it their ultimate demise. Then the other main characteristic of Pakistan is a bottom 5 that are next to clueless with bat in hand.

Plus with England retaining its normal line up with its full supply of batting might it could further fracture the schism in Pakistan's batting with immense scoreboard pressure.

Duly keep that Ace up your sleeve in this series England, and save it for a more appropiate opposition with real batting might!

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