BUMBLE ON THE TEST: England were bashing it around like a T20 match

BUMBLE ON THE TEST: England were bashing it around like a T20 match on record-breaking first day in Pakistan – but the public WON’T watch if it’s not a proper contest between bat and ball… while I’m still not convinced by Ben Duckett as a Test opener!

  • England toppled yet more records as they hit Pakistan to all corners of ground
  • Four centurions ensured England recorded the highest ever day one total
  • Australia reached 598/4d against West Indies with two double-centurions
  • Future of Test cricket is on line if there is not a salient battle between bat and ball

England’s top order, with the surprising exception of Joe Root, exhibited supreme stroke play as they dominated Pakistan on day one of their first Test series in the country in 17 years.

Brendon McCullum’s side picked up where they left off in the summer and toppled yet more records to reach 506/4 at the close of play in Rawalpindi. Centuries for Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Harry Brook helping them to the highest ever day one total. 

Sportsmail’s David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd picks out his talking points from England’s stunning opening day. 

Harry Brook and Ollie Pope both brought up magnificent Test centuries as England toppled records 

PUBLIC WILL NOT WATCH IF THERE’S NOT A PROPER CONTEST

There are two Tests going on with England playing in Pakistan for the first time in 17 years where the Rawalpindi Stadium was no more than half full for the first day. And Perth is nearly empty for Australia and West Indies. Look at the scores. Australia got almost 600 for four and England were bashing it around like a T20 match. Yes there was some fantastic stroke-play but the public won’t watch if it’s not a proper contest between bat and ball.

MUST BE CAREFUL WITH TEST MATCH CRICKET – BETTER PITCHES CAN BE PRODUCED 

It just seems so unfair to bowlers on these pitches. And it hasn’t always been this way. I can remember some good, entertaining surfaces in Pakistan. So let’s be careful with Test match cricket when it’s under such scrutiny and pressure. The crowds were there in Pakistan for the T20 matches against England earlier this year but will they be for the Tests?

Test cricket must be careful – the public want to see an intriguing battle between bat and ball

I DIDN’T SEE DUCKETT BEING A TEST OPENER – I STILL DON’T, BUT CREDIT TO HIM 

But let’s not be too curmudgeonly about this. There really was some exhilarating stroke-play from England with four century makers and 500 in the day! Batters have to dip their bread when it’s like this! I must confess I didn’t see Ben Duckett coming as a Test opener. I still don’t! But all credit to him for helping himself to a century. Joe Root will be devastated to miss out. 

Ben Duckett did not jump out as a Test opener but he should be proud of the way he batted 

CRAWLEY HAS THE TOOLS TO GO ON AND BE A TOP QUALITY TEST PLAYER

England stuck with Zak Crawley through thin and thinner but they had identified him as a top quality player and I think they were right to. I believe he will go on to be a very fine Test opener and this was a glimpse of what he can do. This England set-up are extremely loyal to players they believe in and should get full credit for that. I can think of some good ones in recent years who would have flourished with this level of support. Adam Lyth is one.

Zak Crawley has repaid the support England – quite rightly – showed him over the summer 

SCOUTING TRIP IN 1997 SHOWS HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED 

These days analytics play such a huge part in cricket but when I was England coach we had none of that. So when I went off on a scouting trip to Rawalpindi in late 1997 to watch West Indies play Pakistan ahead of our trip to the Caribbean in 1998 I took a Sharp hand-held camcorder with me and they sat me in the VVIP section – very, very important people only – where I filmed the West Indies for analysis. Maybe I was ahead of my time! Mind you, it didn’t do us much good when we then came up against Philo Wallace and Clayton Lambert.

A LEARNING CURVE FOR YOUNG NEWMAN WITH THREE VOLATILE HACKS 

I was there in Rawalpindi in 1997 with four English journalists on that scouting trip who made sure we all had a lovely and lively time. There were three experienced hacks called Peter Deeley, Michael Henderson and Graham Otway and a young shaver by the name of Paul Newman. The elder chaps were three of the most volatile characters you could ever meet so I think it was quite an education for young Newman of this parish. 

POPE WILL HAVE TO BE ON TOP FORM WHEN IT COMES TO ENGLAND’S TURN TO BOWL 

It will disappoint advocates of proper wicketkeeping that England had no real cover for Ben Foakes for this series and were forced to hand the gloves to Ollie Pope for this first Test because of illness. I know Pope has kept for England in Test cricket before but only really in emergencies. He’s not a specialist keeper. It will be quite a test for Pope when England bowl because they won’t want to squander any chances on this pitch. 

Ollie Pope can keep – as he has done for England before – but he is no specialist and his side will have to cling onto any chance they get


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