Friday, August 20, 2010

Strauss's captaincy and England's bowling effort

First of all, congrats to Azhar Ali for playing a gutsy knock of 92. He has shown to his teammates how to bat and his knock has no doubt helped Pakistan to get themselves  into a strong position. In my humble opinion, Yesterday's play could also be remembered for  Strauss's captaincy. He set defensive fields and his captaincy seemed to be devoid of any imagination. Yes, Azhar Ali and co. played better than they have done before, but my feeling is, if Strauss had been more aggressive as a captain, Pakistan would have got out for a lesser score.

The key point to discuss was the field Strauss set when Azhar Ali was batting with the last man Asif. Now, Ali was batting well, but I would never fathom Strauss having just one slip and spreading the field to Ali. However well Azhar Ali may have played, a captain should always believe that he can get him out. As expected, Azhar Ali edged one delivery through the second slip and it went scurrying to the boundary. Secondly, Azhar has a front-on stance and struggles to play through the covers, but from whatever I saw, I struggle to remember Strauss leaving the cover field open and tempting Azhar to drive.

Yesterday, we also saw the great Yousuf making his comeback and play in his typical languid style and score yet another elegant half century. He is a pleasure to watch as he is such a good timer of the ball, but I was disappointed by the way England bowled at him. Yousuf has a enviable record against England, but has struggled a bit against Australia and South Africa. One of the key reasons for that is, both Saffers and Aussies have pounded him with short pitched stuff with the occasional full delivery. Yousuf has a high back-lift and struggles to pull. As he has a high back-lift, the age old bouncer and the full delivery combination works well against him. So, a quick bowler can look at bowling bouncers to push him back and follow it up with the full delivery. England's bowlers bowled a touch fuller to him, but I didn't see enough of bouncers being bowled at him. Yes, the pitches in England aren't quick yet, I would like to see more bouncers being bowled at him with the odd full delivery to catch him in the crease.

If I have to discuss about England's bowling effort yesterday, I thought they bowled well as a unit, but I would like to have a look at few key points.  First of all, Jimmy Anderson was trying to bowl from closer to the stumps and looking for the lbw against the lefthanders by bowling the inswinger. Anderson likes to slant it across the lefthander which isn't a bad delivery first up against the lefties as they tend to follow the ball. He also has shown that he can go around the wicket which would stop the batsmen from playing inside the line of the ball. So, why  are England's coaches telling him to get lbw's by bowling the inswinger, when Anderson has been more successful by slanting it across the lefthander and it isn't like Anderson gets lots of lbw's either.  I also noticed that Broad was again bowling short. I do hope someone tells to him to consistently hit the good length spot.

Anyway, it has been a great test match with Pakistan at the end of second day's play having their noses in front. It would be interesting to see how England respond to being put under pressure for the first time during the season.


Suhas said...

I had the same thoughts about Strauss yesterday when I watched that last-wicket partnership. It wasn't long ago that Yousuf and Pakistan paid heavily for similar conservative tactics against the Aussies at Sydney. Such an approach will do England's ashes chances no good.

What do you make of the suitability of England's bowling lineup for Australian conditions? The consensus seems to be that guys like Anderson and Finn won't enjoy the kookaburra ball all that much. Good point about Broad and his length too. Perhaps England might need the varitey provided by Sidebottom or even the shock factor provided by Harmison?

greyblazer said...

Strauss is a defensive captain who looks to contain. England's bowlers won't do as well as they are doing in England but should do ok. In similar conditions England bowled well as a unit in SA. If one looks back at that series it was the failure of the batting that made sure England won't win the series.

Anderson has improved and just like in SA I expect him to average around 30. Broad would chip in with few wickets and if given the new ball Finn should do better than Broad as he bowls better lengths. Harmison has lost pace and his record in places other than Bang. is rubbish when playing away from home. Siders is good only against weak teams and he needs assistance from the pitch. In West Indies when the pitches were flat he was innocuous and was outbowled by everyone including Harmison.

Perhaps one has to be concerned about England's batting and not bowling as Cook, KP and Strauss aren't in good form and even against an Aussie attack which looks worse than England there is a chance of England's batting letting the team down.

Anonymous said...

It will be a 'defence off' between Strauss and Punter during the Ashes.


half-tracker said...

Pardon, I wonder if Strauss will be attacking enough to put a man out on the hook for when Punter comes in to face his first ball? Pakistan had stupid success with that, despite dropping a few.

greyblazer said...

If not for attacking captaincy we can watch it to see who is more defensive. Like who would have the deep point or the long off first.

I find it funny when Strauss would give every seamer 5 or 6 overs and rotate them with Swann bowling at the other end. He has improved a bit in that regard but went back to old ways when he took off Anderson though he had just taken a wicket but wait he had finished his quota of 5 overs!

greyblazer said...

He should put a man on the hook as unlike Tendulkar, Punter believes that he is still about 25 and seeing the fielder he would likely go for the shot as it seems to hurt his ego but would Sir Andrew do it?