At just about 5:40AM UK time yesterday Ben Duckett smashed a four to take England from 166-2 to 170-2 in the final innings of the test series in Pakistan, and in so doing created a piece of cricket history – no visiting side had ever won a clean sweep in a three+ match series in Pakistan until that moment. This post looks back at the events of the third match of the series (I covered the first two matches extensively already) and then at the key moments of this extraordinary series.
THIRD TEST: DAY ONE
Rehan Ahmed was given a debut for England, and Ben Foakes was recalled to the XI, Will Jacks and James Anderson being rested. For Pakistan Nauman Ali played in place Zahid Mahmood. Babar Azam won the toss and decided to bat, which looked like good news for Pakistan. Pakistan scored 304, with various players making useful runs but no one getting a massive score, and by the close England had lost Crawley. Nevertheless, England would have considered getting Pakistan all out on day one a good day’s work.
England looked to be struggling at 145-5, when Ben Foakes joined Harry Brook, but a big stand between these two and some useful contributions from the rest of the order saw England to 354, a first innings advantage of 50. Pakistan were 21-0 by the close.
This was the day the fate of the match was settled. Pakistan were 54-3 at one point, all three wickets to Leach to give him seven in the match. Then Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel shared a century stand. The key turning point came when Babar Azam smashed a slow long hop from Rehan Ahmed straight to Pope at midwicket. From then on the Pakistan middle and lower order imploded, a combination of poor shots from them and good work from England seeing a high water mark of 164-3 turn into 216 all out. Rehan Ahmed had 5-48 and Joe Root nabbed a wicket with his occasional off spin. Rehan Ahmed’s debut match figures of 7-137 were the best such by an England leg spinner since Charles ‘Father’ Marriott took 11-96 v West Indies at The Oval in 1933. Marriott, then 37 and a part time cricketer (he worked as a schoolmaster and turned out for Kent in the summer holidays) never played for England again, Ahmed should do so on many occasions. Leach’s seven wickets with his left arm spin were enough to make him the leading test wicket taker of 2022.
England needed 167 to win and there were 17 overs to be bowled that evening. Traditional test thinking would suggest a cautious approach and looking to get through without losing any wickets, but Crawley and Duckett set off at a merry pace. When Crawley was out Stokes made a typical Stokes move – the events of Pakistan’s second innings suggested that this was Rehan Ahmed’s day, so Stokes sent him in at number three. This divided opinion among those following the match – some, like me, thought it was superb, others grumbled about it being disrespectful to Pakistan. It had limited success, Ahmed making a rapid 10, but I think it was right nevertheless. In 1986 when John Bracewell scored his maiden test hundred against England, NZ skipper Jeremy Coney tossed him the ball that evening although it was earlier in the England innings than he would usually have deployed his off spinner, and was rewarded with a wicket – it was Bracewell’s day. Stokes then went in himself for the remainder of the evening. Stokes and Duckett played well together and England closed on 112-2, 55 short of victory. I thought, as I said in my post on Monday that this was far preferable to 40-0.
Stokes and Duckett never looked like doing anything other than knocking the runs off and the main focus of interest soon became whether Ben Stokes could hit his 108th career test match six, thereby breaking the record held by England head coach Brendon McCullum. The answer to that was no, and with McCullum’s native New Zealand being England’s next opponents the two are tied on 107 sixes in test cricket. England won by eight wickets, with among those not to bat in the innings being Root (thin series but still England’s finest), Brook (soon to collect both the Player of the Match and Player of the Series awards) and Pope. This time last year a rabble of an England test team were being obliterated in Australia, and if you had told me that 12 months on an England test side would be winning 3-0 away from home without Root scoring many runs I would have laughed outright.
These my England player ratings in batting order:
Zak Crawley 4 – failed in the first innings, made a half decent score in the second.
Ben Duckett 8 – a comparative failure first up (26), but 82* in the final innings rounded out an excellent comeback series for him.
Ollie Pope 6.5 – a 50 in the only innings in which he batted, and although he was gifted it by a terrible shot from the batter his catch to dismiss Babar Azam and start the implosion of the Pakistan second innings was a good one.
Joe Root 5 – a duck in the only innings in which he batted, but three wickets for him across the two Pakistan innings count for something.
Harry Brook 9 – a superb century which pulled England out of some strife in the first innings. He had a superb series and should be part of the England test side for many years to come.
Ben Stokes 8.5 – a fairly quiet match for Stokes the player (26 and 35* with the bat, eight overs for 20 with the ball) though that second innings carried England to victory, but a fantastic match for Stokes the captain.
Ben Foakes 7.5 – a good and much needed 50 in the only innings in which he was needed to bat, and impeccable as ever behind the stumps.
Rehan Ahmed 8.5 – had a great time with the ball, and an entertaining one as “night hawk” in the final innings. His success bodes well for England’s future.
Ollie Robinson 6 – a useful contribution with the bat in England’s first innings, and didn’t do a lot wrong with the ball, though this was never a surface to suit him and his light workload reflects that fact.
Mark Wood 7 – an entertaining cameo with the bat, and on a surface that offered nothing to a fast bowler he gave it everything he had every time he was asked to bowl.
Jack Leach 7 – England’s work horse in this match – 57 overs across the two innings yielded him combined figures of 7-212 and his scalps included Abdullah Shafique (who had made a splendid start to his test career until this match) in both innings and Shan Masood and Azhar Ali (giving the latter a Bradman-like end to his career – bowled for a duck by an English spinner who batted at number 11) in the second – four of his seven scalps thus coming from the top three in the Pakistan order.
SERIES KEY MOMENTS
- Day one – England score 500 in 75 overs. This set a template for attacking cricket, and indicated that England weren’t about to just settle for an all round boosting of batting averages on a flat pitch.
- Day four – THAT declaration – Stokes sets Pakistan 343 in four sessions, albeit knowing that the light will be truncating the first and fourth of those sessions.
- Day five – England keep pressing, and claim the final wicket with maybe 1.3 overs left before the light closed proceedings.
- Second test day one – England attack on a turner. Many criticized England’s approach in the first innings of this match, but they managed 281 from 51.4 overs, and my own belief is that they would have made many fewer runs had they been obsessed with batting time. England went on to win, as a fourth innings target of over 350 proved too much for Pakistan.
- Third test day one – England bowl Pakistan out in less than a day after the latter have chosen to bat.
- Day two – England bounce back from 145-5 to claim a first innings lead of 50.
- Day three – Rehan Ahmed takes five wickets as Pakistan slump from 164-3 to 216 all out, England knock off two thirds of their victory target in the 17 overs they have to face that evening.
- Day four – Stokes and Duckett carry England to an eight wicket victory, Duckett making the winning hit, which means that England whose total tally of test match wins in Pakistan prior to this series totalled two had secured a 3-0 win in this series.
These pictures are split – I left the camera I took them with at work on Thursday, which was the peak of the freeze and retrieved it yesterday. To further increase the variation there are some night time pictures there…