For all those still high on the heady success of a convincing series win over West Indies, last night’s limited overs spanking at the hands of cricket minnows Ireland will have reintroduced an air of reality back into expectations for this the first of a three Test series versus Pakistan.
Old Trafford is again the venue and the hosts appear to have their strongest bowling line up fit and firing. Jofra Archer returns, while veterans Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson will also be aiming for wickets. England’s top order batting order continues to mystify with inconsistency and form loss. However, there were signs vs West Indies that confidence was returning.
England have a distinct advantage having already got a competitive series under their belt – the visitors, who have been in the UK for weeks, have not. No amount of inter-squad practice can deliver match sharpness so it will be very interesting to see whether A) the crack on with the bat, and B) whether what is championed as Pakistan’s most exciting fast-bowling trio in a decade; Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah can cope with the conditions to rattle that shaky England batting line up.
If you’re stuck working and can’t watch on TV, you can catch Test Match Special on radio Five Live.
England v Pakistan First Test – Wednesday from 10.00 on Sky Sports and Now TV. Highlights at 7.00pm on BBC 2.