England v Pakistan: England need to devise a plan for Yasir Shah
England have got an awful lot of work to do between now and Friday morning, when they next take on Pakistan.
Somehow, before the second Test at Old Trafford, they need to devise a plan to deal with Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah – which is difficult because English batsmen don’t see enough wrist-spin.
They tend to freeze against it and look unsure how to play it.
The fact he took 10 wickets in such benign conditions at Lord’s – helping Pakistan to a 75-run win – is a concern for England.
We’ve got a little heatwave coming up this week and the Old Trafford pitch will spin more, I’ve no doubt about that.
Do the England batsmen prod the ball away, with the danger of planting the pad and being given out lbw via the decision review system (DRS)?
Or do they have a rush of blood and produce a haymaker like Moeen Ali did in the second innings, which was just horrible?
Somehow they just have to find a calm and sensible way of playing Yasir.
You have to put the pressure back on him. The longer he goes without a wicket, the more frustrated he becomes and the more he tries things and bowls a bad ball. You hit that bad ball for four and start again.
You can’t just try to bang him out of the attack.
Welcome back, Jimmy…
James Anderson and Ben Stokes played against each other for their respective counties at the weekend, as they continue their return from injury, and England will be keen to have both players back in their XI as quickly as possible.
It was good to see them return to England’s 14-man squad when it was named by the selectors on Monday.
Alastair Cook’s men will try to dominate Pakistan in this series with seam, but Stokes will only be picked if he can bat and bowl.
When he does return – whether that’s the second Test or his recovery takes a little while longer – the Durham man brings that fierce competitive edge England need.
Their coach, Trevor Bayliss, felt England were off the boil at Lord’s but Stokes doesn’t go off the boil. If anything, he revs things back up and brings real energy to the team.
England are, however, short of slow bowling – and that is a real problem they have.
Off-spinner Moeen gives England options at the moment and I can see Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who has also been included in the squad for the second Test, playing as one of two spinners at some stage, but even that is difficult for him to sustain – as we saw in the UAE last winter.
Root-ed at three
I don’t think England will change the batting order at Old Trafford.
They have moved Joe Root up to number three but I don’t think it affected him too much – he just played two poor shots.
It’s a question of whether numbers four (James Vince) and five (Gary Ballance) are good enough.
I thought Ballance batted a bit better in the second innings at Lord’s, but there’s some pressure on Hampshire’s James Vince.
He has played fairly well in his first few Tests but he does seem to be a batsman who likes to throw the bat at the ball.
It was a pretty poor dismissal in the second innings, being caught in the slips attempting to drive the ball on the up through the off side.
Amir’s courteous Test return
On reflection, it was a very good Test to open the four-match series. I was really pleased with the way the match was played and the spirit between the two teams.
Mohammad Amir was given a courteous return to Test cricket after his ban from the game for spot-fixing in 2010, but it might be a little more vocal when he goes to Manchester or Edgbaston. That, unfortunately, goes with the territory a little bit.
I love Pakistan’s bowling. It’s good to see a left-arm attack for a change and they have a highly-talented wrist-spinner who bounces in to the crease.
Their close fielding needs some work and attention but if they keep as calm and focused as they were at Lord’s they will be difficult opponents for the rest of the summer.
Pakistan sprinkle a little joy
Pakistan celebrate their Test victory with a salute, led by Younus Khan
Pakistan celebrate their Test victory with a salute, led by Younus Khan (centre)
Pakistan’s celebrations at the end of the game – when they did military-style press-ups and salutes in reference to a pre-tour boot camp – reminded me of the ‘The Sprinkler’.
That was performed by the England players when they beat Australia in the Ashes down under in 2010-11.
It’s one of those in-team things which works for Pakistan. They are using it as a means of bonding and motivation.
I don’t suppose England liked it too much when they saw it, but Australia won’t have liked ‘The Sprinkler’ too much in Melbourne.
If it works for Pakistan, I don’t have a problem with it.
Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport’s Marc Higginson