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England v Pakistan: Second Test, Old

When I sat down to write about England's defeat at the hands of
Pakistan, I quickly realised only my friend Ben could express what all
England fans were feeling. When play finished on Sunday, it appeared
that there were two likely outcomes; either victory or a draw. Either
way this would hand England a fifth successive series victory and would
be the perfect set up to the start of the Ashes series. When I spoke
to Ben during the lunch interval he sounded chipper, he teased and
insulted me and chatted to Anna. Even at tea with the score at 197 for
two, while victory was further away the draw was assured. But then the
new ball was taken and the possibility of the draw disappeared.

England slumed to 261 all out, with eight wickets falling for just
69 runs. Ben was tetchy and depressed and we have been having running
arguments ever since. It has not helped that it has since come to
light that four England wickets fell to no balls, calling into question
whether the art of being an umpire should give way to the science of
technology. This is a complex question and cricket is a conservative
sport. The waves of horror that swept over the cricketing
establishment when Channel 4 introduced its snickometer1! Another example of trial by television, the press

Well the fact is that England too benefitted from bad umpiring
decisions. Yousuf Youhana and Younis Khan both lost their wickets on
Sunday afternoon to bad decisions. Alec Stewart has once again shown
himself to be a steadying influence on and off the pitch. His staunch
defence of match umpires, David Shepherd and Eddie Nicholls was at odds
with that of the former England coach, David Lloyd who was vocal in his
call for technology to become the guru to the men in white. The fact
is that cricketers are professionals and the age of honesty among
bowlers and batsmen is long gone with a few notable exceptions. You
might know you are out, or that last ball you bowled is not a candidate
for an LBW appeal but you stand your ground none the less on the
offchance the cricketing gods might smile on you.

There are plus points England can take out of this defeat.
Individual performances by Marcus Trescothick, Michael Atherton, Graham
Thorpe and Michael Vaughan with the bat and Matthew Hoggard with the
ball are glimmers of hope. Michael Atherton proved himself to be a
steadying influence on Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan in the
face of severe barracking by the Pakistani fielders. This is likely to
be nothing to the insults that will be traded when Australia are in the
field. A good Test team can bounce back from defeat and concentrate on
the next matter in hand, the Nat West triangular tournament with
Pakistan and Australia. All too often in the past, England's
confidence has been knocked to the extent that batting collapses were
almost expected not only by the fans but by the players too.

Look at the press reports and the only thing that the pundits agree
on is the pitch, which was universally acclaimed. Peter Marron
produced a wicket and outfield to be proud of. As for Ben... a victory
in the first one day match against Pakistan would make my day!

Abi... Post Ashes Correspondant.

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