Mastery Of Conditions Part Of Cricket
Pakistan have previous when it comes to turning things around in major tournaments – with the 2017 Champions Trophy now garnering its fair share of ‘cornered tiger‘ references after Sarfraz Ahmed’s side upset tournament favourites and hosts England to reach Sunday’s Final.
Wednesday’s eight wicket victory was not just an example of the effectiveness of Pakistan’s bowling attack – sans Mohammad Amir due to back spasms – but also their superior ability to master the conditions.
There are those that were unhappy with the wicket in Cardiff, that it prevented England from playing the brand of cricket that had, legitimately, seen their pre-tournament odds grow shorter and shorter.
But that’s part of the game.
From village fourth teams to Test matches, cricket is not only about the ability to make a ball swing, to play spin, to field effectively or to build or chase a total, but to achieve some or all of these things whilst competing in a (potentially) changing environment.
Weather changes, wickets wear.
Occasionally the situation is such that one team could claim to have been given the rough end of the stick – put in to bat on a damp wicket whilst their opponents later go on to enjoy a flat track in which to chase down whatever total they have been set.
England could have no such complaints however. Pakistan simply did a superior job of making the most of their assets in the conditions, which were the same for both teams.
As Simon Hughes neatly summarised on Thursday morning’s Today programme on BBC Radio 4, perhaps England should have played more with their wrists than their biceps – something which Pakistan did to eases home and set up a show down with either India or Bangladesh on Sunday.
Naturally every team will have its strengths and weaknesses, but at the highest level it should not be ‘too much to ask’ that there is a degree of adaptability.
In fact, it is an essential requirement given the very different challenges playing in different countries presents today’s internationals cricketers.
Ultimately, England failed to adapt. The timing of such a performance could not have been worse for Eoin Morgan’s side, but it will almost certainly go on to be a valuable lesson ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
Mastery of the conditions is an essential part of cricket.