With No 1 ranking under real threat, England have to find some quick solutions

England’s batting failure in the first Test match against Saeed Ajmal and their dramatic collapse against Abdur Rehman in the second Test is a telling commentary of their struggles on turning wickets © Getty Images

 

By Devarchit Varma

 

It has been a nightmarish series for England, the recently-crowned No.1 team in Test cricket. Since the coronation, they have been humiliated and exposed in their very first away series by a resurgent Pakistan. The annihilation of the English side is indicative of the fact that no side in today’s international cricket can take their top ranking for granted.

 

England’s determination to reach at the top of world rankings in Test cricket was evident in their performance in Australia and against India. But after two humiliating losses against Pakistan, England’s No 1 ranking has understandably come under question – at least by a segment of the cricketing cognoscenti in particular and fans in general.

 

England’s batting failure in the first Test match against Saeed Ajmal and their dramatic collapse against Abdur Rehman in the second Test is a telling commentary of their struggles on turning wickets.

 

After their emphatic win over India, England faced much tougher challenge to win on tracks which are low, assist turn and do not have much for fast bowlers to stamp their authority.

 

Before the start of the series, the English think-tank led by Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower would have determined that success in UAE against a comparatively lowly-ranked Pakistan side could provide them the much-needed confidence and momentum on rank turners when take on Sri Lanka and India – both away series – later this year. The manner in which England capitulated in the two Tests so far against Pakistan does not augur well for them when they tour Sri Lanka and India – two opponents who are most difficult to beat in their own backyard.

 

England batting coach Graham Gooch’s statement before the series that the batsmen will have to find a way to tackle spinners gave inkling that the top-ranked side had not done the necessary homework to face the threat of Pakistan’s spin duo, Ajmal and Rehman, on turning tracks.

 

England’s No 1 status is under grave threat following the two successive losses. If they lose the last Test against Pakistan and New Zealand receives a similar treatment from South Africa in March, the African side will become world No.1.

 

For England, which occupied No. 1 position in ICC rankings only in their previous Test series, too much is at stake. If they are to remain at the top, they will have to find a solution for their woes against spin.

 

(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or play cricket. An ardent Test cricket fan, he often goes alone to see his favourite players in action)