How ‘excellent’ England erred from plan

“To have five or six men out for Broad, who has 500 wickets and a second new ball in these conditions, England’s tactics were poor. It deflected away from how excellent they were after lunch”

Last Updated: 14/08/20 10:34pm

Joe Root and England's tactics were up and down on day two in Southampton, say Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain
Joe Root and England’s tactics were up and down on day two in Southampton, say Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain

England went from “excellent” to “losing the plot” as they tried to polish off the Pakistan innings in Southampton.

Those the views of Sky Sports Cricket’s Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain after the tourists climbed from 176-8 to above 200 on day two of the second Test as England changed tack to Mohammad Rizwan.

Rizwan (60no) passed fifty during a stand of 39 with tailender Mohammad Abbas (2) as England’s tactics became erratic, as Athers explains.

“England were very good in the opening 40 minutes after lunch when they bowled fuller but I’m afraid that in the last 45 minutes before tea, they completely lost the plot,” said the former England captain.

“As a former captain, you understand it is complicated and the game can run away from you slightly.

WATCH: Athers, Nasser and Warne talk captaincy

“But they had a second new ball in the hands of Stuart Broad in the most peachy bowling conditions you can imagine and there were six men out on the boundary.

“There are often decisions that are 50- 50 but I think most people would say, including England, that that was palpably wrong.

England started consistently against Mohammad Rizwan...
England started consistently against Mohammad Rizwan…
But then took a somewhat scattergun approach!
But then took a somewhat scattergun approach!

“I understand that Rizwan is batting with the tail but those are the conditions you fancy getting Rizwan out as well.

“Just ask yourself the question – if Rizwan was still batting with Babar Azam, what kind of field would you have set for him? You wouldn’t have six men out.

“England suddenly started bowling short to Rizwan in conditions where you wanted to challenge the batsman’s technique, as they had been doing so beautifully.

“You have the odd man out on the boundary, maybe at deep square leg, but to have five or six out for Broad, who has 500 Test wickets and a second new ball in these conditions, England’s tactics were poor.

Stuart Broad had dismissed Babar Azam with a beauty of a ball after lunch
Stuart Broad had dismissed Babar Azam with a beauty of a ball after lunch

“It’s a shame as it deflected away from how excellent they were after lunch.

“People get it wrong all the time, that’s sport – you are not going to get it right 100 per cent of the time. Plus, Rizwan is a real fighter. He made his debut as a specialist batsman and you can see he has plenty of ability.”

Hussain added: “I could give you 10 examples of England going past Rizwan’s bat by bowling a full length – so why should they change?

“They had him in all sorts of trouble with lavish movement – he was going nowhere – and they were absolutely brilliant at targeting the top of off stump after lunch but then it became a scattergun approach.

Rizwan profited from some erratic tactics to reach his second Test fifty
Rizwan profited from some erratic tactics to reach his second Test fifty

“All eyes will be on Joe Root but surely Broad, Jimmy Anderson, Chris Woakes must say to Joe in these conditions, ‘give me the ball, give me the field, I’m bowling as if I’m bowling to an opening batsman and I will get them out’.

“I don’t think Darren Gough would be coming to me saying ‘get five men on the boundary’. He’d back himself.”

Speaking to Sky Sports after Pakistan closed on 223-9, Broad said of bowling to a set batsman and the tail: “It’s a tactical part of the game I have seen no one master in all the games I have played.

“If you bring all the field up with a batsman in on 60, you can leak 30 or 40 runs quickly. What you don’t want is to bowl five balls at the in batter and they get one off the last.

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England’s push for dominance against Pakistan was hampered by Mohammad Rizwan and bad light on a day when captaincy was a hot topic of debate.
England’s push for dominance against Pakistan was hampered by Mohammad Rizwan and bad light on a day when captaincy was a hot topic of debate.

“At tea, I think we decided to bowl our best ball as often as possible with the field up but it also gives a bit of a free hit to the boundary for a guy on 60, while if everyone is on the boundary you lose intensity and hope for a mistake.

“It’s a tricky one. We kept two or three slips in as we felt they were in the game but it is a big ground to defend.

“It can be really frustrating at eight or nine down as you want to bowl as many balls at 10 and 11 as possible but if someone plays it well they can really manipulate the field.”

Watch day thee of the second #raisethebat Test between England and Pakistan live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Saturday.

Source : Sky Sports