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Simon Hughes: England cannot keep relying on Alastair Cook and Joe Root

06 Nov | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Simon Hughes: England cannot keep relying on Alastair Cook and Joe Root

England's next Test assignment will be facing up to three 90mph bowlers in South Africa - they must shore up their batting, says the Analyst

In the end, the more pessimistic predictions came true in the UAE.

Those of us whose hearts dreamt of a drawn series knew in our heads that it would be a tall order.

England did not have enough batting experience of the conditions or enough slow-bowling skill to utilise them.

At least they went one better than their predecessors and only eventually lost 2-0.

England were competitive at least.

That was down, however, to the stamina and precision of four men.

Alastair Cook faced more than 900 balls in the series (that’s 150 overs), scored England’s only hundred (there were five by Pakistan) and finished the leading run scorer on either side.

Jimmy Anderson, meanwhile, must be one of the greatest swing and seam bowlers in the history of cricket.

And then there was Stuart Broad and Joe Root, who is perhaps slightly flattered by his status as the No. 1 Test batsman in the world, although he would certainly be in the top five.

But man for man Pakistan were slightly better in their own conditions, especially with the ball.

Yasir Shah always posed a threat (and the only reason why England almost won the first Test is because he was out injured) and their other spinners plugged away faithfully and usefully, inadvertently exposing England’s lack of reliable spin options.

They would probably have been better off in the end playing four seamers.

At least that way, Anderson and Broad would have had more of a break between spells and wouldn’t necessarily be bowling at the same batsmen they had been in their previous spell.

There is no quick fix for England’s dearth of spin bowlers.

For the moment they will have to persist with Moeen Ali (for whom the burden of opening the batting may have weighed heavily on his bowling) and Adil Rashid.

Rashid has all the variations needed to be a good leg spinner, but as yet lacks venom and control.

He can acquire that with more experience and especially using more of his body in his bowling action to give his deliveries extra energy and fizz.

More immediately, England must shore up their batting.

Their next Test assignment is facing up to three 90mph bowlers in South Africa in late December.

Alex Hales is likely to draw short straw and open the batting in that series.

A few one-day internationals on the ankle-nipping pitches of the UAE is no preparation for facing the Rottweilers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in Durban, but at least it’s a chance to get some confidence.

That opportunity will be denied Ian Bell, who will be watching from his Warwickshire family nest.

Another series like this one for Bell – in which he rarely looked like a man who has played 118 Tests – and that is where he can retire to.

The problem is there is no obvious replacement.

Gary Ballance is still dabbling with his technical issues and James Taylor would be overexposed at three against Test-class fast bowling.

But England need to find some stability from somewhere. They cannot keep relying on Cook and Root.

Jason Roy, anyone?

READ: Simon Hughes: England’s batting against Pakistan will be beset by inexperience

READ: Simon Hughes: This is a sanitised version of the real Pakistan