England were thoroughly outplayed by Pakistan in the first test at Lords in losing by nine wickets. Winning the toss and then batting was probably a mistake, picking Wood over Woakes another and then the top six failed twice against excellent Pakistan bowling.
Pakistan’s strength is their fast bowling where Amir and Abbas are particularly effective supported by the emerging spinner Shadab Khan. By the time they batted at Lords the pitch had flattened out and they applied themselves well at odds with the flakiness of their line up in recent years since the retirement of Misbah and Younus Khan.
Once England batted again it was only the Buttler/Bess partnership that gave them hope of an unlikely victory until the fourth morning when England’s last four wickets fell in 26 minutes against the second new ball.
For the second Test England have problems at opening batsman where there is still no convincing partner for Cook, the middle order and unless they start putting some scores on the board, a problem now for getting on for two years, they aren’t going to win many test matches. In the bowling ranks Anderson and Broad are still effective but there is no sign of an effective spinner for when pitches get flat.
On a more general level the concentration on the ODI and T20 game, in which England are at or near the top of the world rankings in both, appears to have affected England’s long game dramatically. Batsmen are not applying themselves and the county game isn’t developing enough talent in some areas. Since the start of the Ashes Tour, England have made a total of 600 runs or more in the entire Test match on only one occasion.
England have made one change, Jennings replacing Stoneman at the top of the order. Looking back Pakistan had an advantage at Lords, having played a test match a week earlier in Ireland. England were under-cooked AND played poorly. At Headingley they won’t be under-cooked and can’t play worse. Fortunes can turn quickly.
Unfortunately odds haven’t moved a great deal. England are still 8/13 to win the second test, which is an unbackable price. The draw is 5/1 and Pakistan have moved from 9/2 to 3/1+ at Bet365. At the prices, we can assume that Pakistan’s excellent bowling attack will perform again and Pakistan are once more the bet.