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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

England’s slip cordon, indecision allow Pakistan to sneak past in Southampton

England's slip cordon and rain gods kept James Anderson waiting at 599 wickets on Day 4.

Written by Rahul Sadhu | Updated: August 26, 2020 9:13:58 am
ENGvPAK, England win series 1-0England's slip cordon dropped more than 10 catches in the series against Pakistan and those are not good numbers for a leading international cricket team. (AP)

Is James Anderson the unluckiest bowler for getting catches dropped off his bowling? Four dropped catches in 37 balls in the final Test between England and Pakistan in Southampton, probably makes you think yes.

So while the post-match report may say that the Englishmen clinched the series, there is a lot of dissecting above the rain and clouds.

Sore in the slips

In the second Test, it was Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes who bore the brunt.

Anderson’s grumpy reaction to getting the last wicket in Pakistan’s first innings showed he was more annoyed about the dropped catches than pleased to wrap the innings up. Any further emotions, if vented out, might be behind the scenes.

England’s slip cordon dropped more than 10 catches in the series against Pakistan and those are not good numbers for a leading international cricket team.

Incidentally, it also made Anderson the slowest in terms of innings to go from 550 to 600 wickets. Anil Kumble took 19 innings. Shane Warne took 18 innings. Muttiah Muralitharan was the quickest of all with 15 innings.

Historically England hasn’t been that bad in the slip cordon.

Former England captain Graham Gooch had made an honest admission to the BBC and said, “Inevitably, whenever I dropped a catch, it was because I had let my concentration slip. My movement would have been a split second slower than usual and the ball wouldn’t hit the middle of the hand.”

The absence of Stokes and the inexperience of the duo — Rory Burns, Dom Sibley — standing together has taken its toll. In the previous game, we had discussed how body positioning plays a key role along with confidence and concentration.

In the third Test, some of those catches weren’t straight forward drops, the additional movement, and indecision of whether to go for it or not made it difficult.

The lack of instinct was clearly missing.

READ | Shambolic in the slips: Close-in catching continues to haunt England

Indecision with the threat of rain

England were 486/5 when Zak Crawley was stumped for 267 (393). Together with Joss Buttler, Crawley stitched the highest fifth-wicket stand of 359 by any team against Pakistan. This was right before Tea on Day 2, the visitors visibly deflated out of the game.

A couple of overs after Tea, the Three Lions reached 500 and a declaration surely seemed on the cards. Instead of going berserk at this point and give Pakistan the last 20 overs to bat and take as many wickets as they can, Root and camp played it slow and consuming 19 overs on the way.

This decision was not a wise one and should England have batted the extra hour on the second day will haunt Joe Root. The way Anderson was bowling another few overs from him could have got Pakistan six down. Incidentally, the next day onwards the ball didn’t do as much.

Less than two hours of cricket was played on a rain-affected Day 5, with England taking just two of the eight wickets needed to win the match after Pakistan resumed on 100-2 and trailing by 210 runs. Pakistan were 187-4 when the teams settled on a draw, with 27.1 overs bowled on Tuesday.

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