Skip to content

England v Pakistan: What we learned from Oval Test

Curtly Ambrose joins Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain in the Zone

That's your Test summer done and dusted - and what a way to finish!

It's been quite the series between England and Pakistan and no-one is quibbling with the 2-2 result. Here are five things we picked out from the final test...

A profitable draw

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Nas, Athers and Bumble create some masterpieces

While Pakistan were busy setting up their series-levelling win, our pundits turned to their sketch books to doodle away for Cricket United. Rather than hit back at James Anderson for his excellent sketch of Nasser Hussain as Mr Burns, our Nas instead chose to highlight Ian Ward's, erm, short-comings - Athers picking up on the theme, while Bumble showed natural flair in portraying Rob Key.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Mr Burns or Nas? You decide...

While Cricket United was another veritable hit, Nas and Athers were doing their level best not to get hit by an old foe when they faced up to Curtly Ambrose in the Zone.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘You want to drive? Buy a car.’ Ambrose sledges Athers

Ambrose was a little slow into his two strides, preferring to warm up with a spot of basketball, but once he warmed to his task it was like the old days as Athers got out the leave and Nas chirped away rather unadvisedly.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Come on Curtly, rev it up!’ Nas decided to challenge Curtly

Saturday also marked the start of the new Premier League season and, in honour of the occasion, Mr Accrington David Lloyd picked his cricket-themed XI from your twitter suggestions.

Also See:

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

David 'Bumble' Lloyd picks his cricket-themed, football XI

Competition was stiff with strikers Francesco Trotti and Ravinelli Bopara relegating Warne Rooney and Thierry Henry Blofeld to the bench, but happily Nasser Chadli and Danny Higgin'botham' made the cut, keeping at least two of our pundits happy.

We salute you, Pakistan

Given everything Pakistan has endured as a country of late - the black armbands worn by all players on day one in memory of those killed in the Quetta bomb blast a timely reminder - the onus was very much on Misbah-ul-Haq's men to inject a little joy back into the nation. As the beaming smiles of fans and players alike testified as the team completed their victory lap at the Oval on Pakistan Independence Day, this has been a triumphant tour in so many ways - proving Pakistan's potency away from home and illustrating the unity and harmony within the squad, forged in the sweat and tears of a pre-tour army camp.

Misbah-ul-Haq celebrates scoring a century in his first Test innings at Lord's
Image: Misbah-ul-Haq: we salute an inspirational leader!

After losing successive Tests, former Pakistan sides might have imploded but inspired by Younus Khan, the man who keeps giving, and Yasir Shah, who surely will only get better the more he plays away from the UAE, this one came back stronger, winning the hearts in the process to well and truly banish the spot-fixing scourge of their last appearance on these shores.

Dropping is catching

You sense that Trevor Bayliss is just about clicking 'confirm payment' as he books England's next trip to the continent. A little over a year after a four-day trip to Spain produced a stunning catching display in the Ashes (let's forget about Lord's for now), England have started to shell chances with alarming regularity again - and Pakistan aren't doing much better! Between them the teams dropped 26 clear chances throughout the series (England 15, Pakistan 11 by my reckoning) that cost near enough 1,000 runs. Simply staggering.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Alastair Cook is dropped TWICE off the bowling of Mohammad Amir during the first Test

For the record, England's out-fielding has by and large been very decent but close in is a different story. Bayliss himself highlighted the issue much earlier in the series, suggesting the technique of some of the players needed work, and could it be that some in the cordon are over-thinking it? It's hard to suggest an alternative theory - forget bad seeing grounds or great upheavals in personnel; for the most part it has been Bairstow, Cook and Root in a row with Hales generally in the gully. True, third slip has been up for grabs in Ben Stokes' absence but this might just be one we have to put down to confidence, or lack of it.

Hales not hearty

Since the retirement of a certain Andrew Strauss, the list of batsmen Alastair Cook has opened with reads almost a team-sheet itself - Alex Hales (11 matches), Nick Compton (10), Adam Lyth (7), Sam Robson (7), Michael Carberry (5), Joe Root (5), Moeen Ali (3) and Jonathan Trott (3) have all had a go.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

It's been an expensive Test match for Alex Hales and we show you why...

The latest in that long line, Hales, doesn't look out of his depth and, indeed, impressed against Sri Lanka but it's never a great idea to have a Test to forget at the Oval - it rather leaves a stench before the winter touring squad is picked - and Hales had a bit of a nightmare, to be fair. If scoring just 18 runs in total wasn't bad enough to finish with a series tally of 145 runs at 18.12, we had the unedifying scenes of his on-going spat with Yasir Shah after the latter claimed a contested catch on the first morning.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

There was controversy on the first day of the fourth Test as Alex Hales was given out after a low catch from Yasir Shah, but was it out?

He compounded the issue by picking a fight with the third umpire and thereafter played like someone with a scrambled mind - dropping a howler in the gully on day two and going into his shell in the second innings. Hales has the talent to be a long-term Test player - the selectors just need to decide how long they stick with him.

More top-order trouble

Bayliss seemed to imply in his post-Test interview that no-one is beating down the door to replace Hales at the top of the order - sorry Hashim Habib, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Mark Stoneman and co - but the same reasoning might not save James Vince (158 runs at 22.57) and Gary Ballance (195 runs at 27.85). Nasser Hussain summed Vince's travails up succinctly, when he said: "He seems to have a lot of ability and time but he seems to be incredibly dopey - the penny doesn't seem to drop at all. He just nicks off on the drive."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The Verdict panel believe James Vince has three innings to cement his Test career.

He added that he'd like to give Vince a shake - join the queue! The testing conditions in Bangladesh and India will demand plenty of mettle and 11 Test innings without a fifty suggests he might be the fall guy. Ballance, surprised to be called up for the Pakistan series, can at least point to those hundreds in the early part of his career but had a certain Ian Bell - relatively young in comparison to Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan - scored a shed-load of runs this summer, you wonder why the selectors aren't on the blower to the Warwickshire man right now.

Around Sky