Too many players get out cheaply and leave those down the order with too much to do.
London: England talk a good game but too often fail to back it up with a batting performance when under pressure.
So many of the England players say how wonderfully enjoyable it is in the dressing room these days.
They play positively and without fear but the fact is they are still a flaky batting unit.
Until they bat better it does not matter how good the bowlers are, particularly the seamers, they will always be suspect.
The opposition will look at England’s batting line-up and think ‘if we dismiss Alastair Cook and Joe Root cheaply the rest will not cause us too much trouble because they will get themselves out’.
Too much is expected of England’s late and middle order. They constantly have to get the top-order out of jail.
As a collective, the top five do not give the innings any security.
When you have Chris Woakes batting at eight and showing more application, discipline and composure than some of the top batsmen in the team, you have to ask yourself what is going on?
He picked the length and variation of the wrist spinner, Yasir Shah, as well, if not better, than all his other colleagues.
Jonny Bairstow and Woakes played fantastic. But by the time they got together they had too much to do. Why didn’t the other batsmen show the same patience and application in the first innings?
Why wait until the team is in a hole and made a mess of batting in the first innings before playing properly?
The game was nearly lost by then. England should take note of the way Bairstow and Woakes batted against Shah.
Stay in, defend well and make him bowl lots of overs so you tire him out.
England need a better plan than just trying to play shots to knock him off his length.
You rarely come across an opposition that has three left-arm seamers slanting the ball across the right-hand batsman.
But England have had time to think about this, work on it in the nets and understand what areas are safe to score in and what shots are naive.
Alex Hales plays cracking good shots but cannot resist having a dart at wide balls. His footwork is missing and it cost him his wicket again. He is not the finished article yet.
James Vince played some gorgeous strokes but did not seem to be aware of how the bowler was trying to get him out by bowling wide outside off stump and tempting him to play at the ball. That part was disappointing.
You can have lots of talent but the best batsmen have good cricket brains.
These pretty little scores will not win Test matches. He needs to realise that if you get in you need to make it count with a big innings because somewhere along the line the bowlers are going to bowl you out cheaply.
Moeen Ali advancing down the pitch, trying to hit the wrist spinner out of the park when the ball was turning out of the foot holes was absolute madness or stupidity.
He is either full of bravado or terrified of trying to bat properly.
Shah bowled beautiful wrist spin but the ball did not turn a lot unless it was coming out of the bowlers’s rough. He had subtle variations, did not bowl many bad balls for the batsmen to hit so it was really about showing patience and having confidence in your own technique to defend.
This is probably one of the best innings Bairstow has played for England because it was foreign to his natural attacking nature.
He played the situation, got forward to smother the spin, waited for the bad ball and he just gave England an outside chance of getting their total.
Gary Ballance grafted, worked hard and showed the mental toughness that is his strength and why the selectors picked him.
If England are going to turn this series around, and they can because Pakistan’s batting is very vulnerable, then they need more of the Bairstow,
Ballance and Woakes attitude from the top-order batsmen.
It was quite obvious in the first innings that some of our batsmen could not read Shah’s variations.
If you cannot read which way it is going to turn, it is very difficult to be positive and hit him for runs unless he bowls a bad ball.
If you are just waiting for bad balls in Test match cricket you might be waiting a long time.
You have to stay in, spend time in the middle, watch his hand very carefully and the longer you spend at the crease the more you begin to understand what he is bowling.
England have just played against him in the UAE, they have the Merlin spin bowling machine, they have had days off since the Sri Lanka series to prepare for facing Shah and the left-arm seamers so there are no excuses.
First of all, batsmen have to get it in their heads that you have to stay in and work.
But these days, because of so much one-day cricket, they want to be playing shots all the time.
If they have to play a maiden over they think ‘oh dear I need to hit it somewhere’. But this game only lasted four days. There was another day to play. Plenty of time to be patient and work hard.
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