It’s never nice to lose a home test match but being architects of their own downfall will have hurt England’s management and players.
Pakistan played well – no-one should underestimate their performance – but the total of 283 on a benevolent Lords wicket was eminently achievable.
The tourists bowling was as devastating during the final innings as England’s batting was reckless. Former England captain Bob Willis nailed it with that comment about the approach the hosts took as they failed to make their target.
Alastair Cook condemned the team for their first innings performance and that’s a serious issue which needs to be addressed. The last five England batsmen chimed in with just 33 runs; it was woeful, particularly since Vince, Bairstow and Ballance chipped in with 100 more.
The promise is there but England will need to draw on the resilience they found in South Africa. Thrashed in the third test, they turned the tables quickly at Kimberley in an accomplished performance.
James Anderson’s recall nods toward an aggressive bowling attack and that was missing at Lords. That will be tempered by the notoriously slow Old Trafford wicket which requires England to be more thoughtful, channelling their pace.
The inclusion of Adil Rashid hints that Cook will have variety in the bowling at his disposal. Rashid has been in fine form for his county, with the Yorkshire leg-spinner offering the possibility of pinning Yasir down in partnership with Moeen.
Cook may not fancy that approach but something different, more provocative is needed in the attack. England struggled to impose themselves on the First Test. On top for spells, they were soon undone by Pakistan and their superiority over Sri Lanka and South Africa disappeared.
Will England’s batting line-up under-perform again? Out-scored in each innings, it’s hard to give credit any of the batsmen; Cook’s own first innings total of 81 was countered by 8 next time around. The consistency which has served them well this year, was sorely missed.
But that undermines Pakistan’s own strengths. Misbah’s first innings 114 was majestic but even he fell prey to spin, with Hales smart catch from Moeen’s delivery. It was the inspiration that the tourists took from the bat which England have to counter.
The press-ups were eye-catching but the steely determination to succeed was more impressive. When England seemed set to ask questions in the second innings, Yasir found the answers by guiding Pakistan to the key wickets of Vince, Bairstow and Ballance.
England face a motivated opponent who have lost just one test on these shores since 2013. It’s a record of which they are proud and one they will not surrender lightly.
Whereas Lords enticed us with the prospect of heroics, the Second Test at Old Trafford lends itself to more of a chess match. The absence of pace ought, on the face of it, to favour the visitors but this has the smell of a great performance from Moeen about it.