There is no getting away from the fact we have batted poorly in this Test. We shouldn’t have been bowled out for 184 in the first innings, or found ourselves 110 for six in the second. But I don’t agree that Joe Root made the wrong decision at the toss.
Recent Tests at Lord’s have mainly gone in the favour of the team that bats first. The fact that we didn’t bat very well doesn’t mean Joe got it wrong. Our plan was always to set Pakistan a tricky target, and hope the pitch gets drier, turns and goes up and down.
After all, the last two 10-fors in Lord’s Tests have both been by spinners — Yasir Shah for Pakistan in 2016, and Moeen Ali against South Africa last year.
Joe Root did not make a mistake at the toss after deciding to bat first against Pakistan at Lord’s
It is easy in hindsight to say we should have bowled, but now we’ve just to got make sure we set Pakistan at least 150 and then have a go at bowling them out.
A glimmer of hope
Jos Buttler and Dom Bess produced that nice calm partnership we desperately needed. Dom was especially impressive on his debut. A lot of the batsmen have come off saying it is a tricky pitch to get in on, so your first 25 to 30 balls are crucial.
That gives us hope for two reasons. One, it means those two already feel in, and hopefully can take our lead into three figures and beyond on Sunday. Two, it means we can make life difficult for Pakistan’s batsmen before they get in.
The partnership between Dom Bess and Jos Buttler on day three was desperately needed
We will have to do something special to win it from here. And by special, I don’t mean a magic ball every over. I mean showing patience and keeping it tight. We are up for the challenge.
Out of luck
I was pretty happy with the way I bowled in Pakistan’s first innings, and on another day, my one for 61 could easily have been five for 40.
I felt like I beat the bat repeatedly, and I was pleased that I got Imam-ul-Haq with the kind of delivery I’d spoken about before the game: a ball that nips back into the left-hander.
I think the reason Rod Tucker didn’t give it out lbw at first was because he’s so used to me pushing the ball across the left-handers.
On another day, first-innings figures of one for 61 could easily have been five for 40
We were sure it had pitched on leg stump, but some of the guys reckoned he might have edged it. So, a good review, basically!
I also got the ball to go into the right-hander down the hill, and it’s important for me that I’m challenging both edges.
I felt I did that regularly.
It’s hard to explain why we’ve had two top-order struggles in this Test.
Maybe it’s because the early season pitches have been so tricky that the batsmen have got out of the habit of scoring big runs.
We didn’t have a prolific winter either, so it’s a habit we need to get back into.
I said last week that I fancied Alastair Cook for some runs, and it was great to see him score 70 on the first day. He’s a bit more side-on now, which meant we saw some nice cover-drives that hadn’t been there during the winter.
Determined Alastair Cook is in for a good summer after scoring 70 on the first day
And it took a really good ball to get him out in both innings.
But there’s a determination about Cooky at the moment. He’s in for a good summer.
Drops are catching
We would have bowled Pakistan out for about 270 or 280 if we had held all our catches, but I can promise you it’s not for want of practice.
The best cordon behind the stumps I ever bowled to was wicketkeeper Matt Prior and slips Andrew Strauss, Graeme Swann and Paul Collingwood.
They all got to know each other’s angles and space really well, which meant there was never any confusion.
So, yes, practice is important.
But there’s been a lot of chopping and changing in the slip cordon recently, so we just need to give the guys a chance to get to know how the others operate.
It’s frustrating when we drop chances. But I am sure that we will get there.