BUMBLE AT THE TEST: Shan Masood's defence looks immaculate

BUMBLE AT THE TEST: Shan Masood was a walking wicket but now his defence looks immaculate while England’s openers are sitting ducks… and why I’d be thumping on Ebony Rainford-Brent’s wall if I were her neighbour!

  • Shan Masood used to have no idea where his off stump was, and kept nicking off
  • But he’s worked on what to play at, and what to leave and his defence is strong
  • Conditions haven’t been easy for batting: the lights have been on with clouds
  • To score a hundred in England – something not many do is quite an achievement

Shan Masood has shown how a batsman’s game can develop. When he toured England in 2016, he was a walking wicket. 

He had no idea where his off stump was, and kept nicking off. But he’s worked on what to play at, and what to leave, and his defence now looks immaculate. 

Conditions haven’t been easy for batting: the lights have been on, and there’s been cloud cover. So to score a hundred in England – something not many visiting openers manage – is quite an achievement.

Shan Masood has shown how a batsman’s game can develop as he scored 156 for Pakistan

You could see England’s gameplan going into this Test. The attack is led by the quality of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, backed up by the accuracy of Chris Woakes and the explosive pace of Jofra Archer. But does Joe Root actually see it that way? After Anderson and Broad had their go with the second new ball, the captain bowled Dom Bess before Archer. What was going off out there?

To make matters worse, England’s openers couldn’t cope with Pakistan’s new-ball attack of Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas. Both Rory Burns and Dom Sibley looked like sitting ducks – and both were lbw because of technical flaws. Burns’s front pad moves too far to the off side, and Sibley has such an open stance that if Abbas, who gets so tight to the stumps, hits him on the pads, he’s out.

It’s been interesting to take note of the two teams’ coaching set-ups. Chris Silverwood, who spoke very impressively after the first day’s play, and director of cricket Ashley Giles are clearly trying to get more Englishmen involved in the back-room staff. 

Rory Burns and Dom Sibley (pictured) looked like sitting ducks as they were both caught LBW

In recent times, they’ve brought in Richard Dawson, Graeme Welch and Jonathan Trott. England have had some terrific overseas coaches down the years, but I think it’s a great idea for the future to make use of some of the young local talent.

The same goes for Pakistan, although they’ve gone for their legends. You’ve got Misbah-ul-Haq as head coach, supported by his old batting partner Younis Khan, plus two great bowlers in Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed. 

All four have got a wonderful attitude, and – importantly – they understand Pakistan culture, and what makes the dressing-room tick. There are real signs that their team are making big strides forward.

If I was my co-commentator Ebony Rainford-Brent’s neighbour, I’d be thumping on the wall!

Have I mentioned before that my co-commentator Ebony Rainford-Brent is a great lass? Well, I’d just like to throw a caveat into proceedings. It has emerged during this game that she spent the time during Test series banging away on her electric drumset! If that wasn’t bad enough, she has revealed that she’s not a big sleeper, so she’s probably been doing her Ringo impersonation at three in the morning! If I was her neighbour, I’d be thumping on the wall!

Michael Holding has let slip a couple of secrets too. He’s an early riser when he’s back home in Newmarket, because he likes to get up and visit the gallops. But it means he then settles down for a two-hour kip in the afternoon. He should live in Spain! Mind you, I like a bit of a siesta myself. I still remember when Sky Sports provided us with our very own winnebago during a match at the Ageas Bowl. Had a lovely double bed, it did…




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