Before the beginning of the Test match at Trent Bridge, it was widely believed that Pakistan were "in form" and this Test match wouldn't be a damp squib. Over night, the disastrous tour to Australia was forgotten and that match at Lord's was history. Yes, Pakistan played well up at Headingley. They bowled Australia out for 88. However, they won by 3 wickets. It was painfully obvious that the Pakistani batting line up is about as brittle as a breadstick.
The two bowling line-ups were very well matched. The 18 year old Mohammad Aamer (or Amir) is already being tipped for great things. I remember seeing him when he was a 15 year old (or similar) playing for the Pakistan under 19s. Makes you think when someone you're only a few months older than is playing international cricket. Mohammad Asif, who is prone to a controversy or ten, took a 5 wicket haul in England's first innings. Yet both of these fast-medium bowlers were overshadowed by another. The man with the eyebrows that look like tiny caterpillars have wandered onto his face, James Anderson, took 11-71 in the match, with a 5-fer and a 6-fer in each innings respectively.
Having a bowler friendly wicket was refreshing to say the least. After the non-event in Sri Lanka in the second Test, it was nice to have the return of battling batsmen and the new ball being so vital. Both sides struggled against it. England were 118-4 at one point before the vital partnership of Lord Collingwood and Eoin Morgan came together. Yes, Anderson bowled well, but it was this 200+ run partnership that set England's victory up. Pakistan didn't use their referrals at all well this match. Had they not wasted them on Pietersen, who was likely to get out quickly himself due to being out of form and his on-going feud with Hampshire, then they could've got England out for 200, or less. Instead, Morgan batted beautifully for his 130 and apparently brushed aside his critics. However, in a quite unique way, Morgan answered an interview with Nasser Hussain honestly and effectively said, "I've still got a lot of work to do, shut up Nasser."
Another England player that deserves credit is Matt Prior. He deserved his hundred after England were tottering in the second innings. Having been run out by Swann in the first innings and then running out Eoin Morgan in the second, Prior got his head down and played out Asif, Aamer and a fired up Gul. He got reward for this perseverance by facing the hopelessly out of form Danish Kaneria and the part time off-spinner Shoaib Malik. Whilst he may've crawled to his century (I think he owes Steven Finn about 20 pints), he certainly deserved it and ran rings and rings around his counterpart, Kamran Akmal.
Akmal struggled against the swinging ball an awful lot this match. He also struggled against the barely spinning ball. He took a sublime catch to dismiss Kevin Pietersen in England's second innings, yet the next ball he went to the cor blimey by dropping Collingwood first ball. It didn't really cost them many runs, but it was the second time he'd not got rid of Collingwood when given the chance. He didn't have much luck on the batting, as his brother seemed to use his referral chances. Umar Akmal was plumb LBW, Kamran Akmal was not.
So now we head off to Edgbaston where England will remain unchanged. This is fair enough. Alastair Cook is having problems with his technique and Pietersen is clearly struggling. Some of his trademark shots did come out during England's innings, but they didn't look as fluent. No player is big enough to not have a county. He may live in Chelsea, but there are two county sides in London, so there is no excuse. He needs to play cricket to get back into form, so he'll retain his place in the Test side.
On the other hand, Pakistan have made some surprises. Mohammad "Banned-Unbanned-Retired" Yousuf has been recalled into the squad to provide, I would assume, a backbone to their batting line up. But he's got to be flown in from Pakistan. He also hasn't played cricket internationally for a while, as he was banned due to the goings on Down Under. The Pakistan side is a very young one, so what kind of message does this send to them? Yousuf is 35. Yes, he scored hundreds of runs against England last time, but I think even he would've succumbed to the England seam attack. Pakistan need to move on from that time. Inzy's long gone and Younis Khan is in the wilderness. It's all part of the rebuilding process. England have gone through it after the Pietersen captaincy debacle, Pakistan will have to as well.
As said earlier, Danish Kaneria has been hopelessly out of form. He has been for most of this year, to be honest. Ever since the allegations of spot-fixing came against him, he hasn't been right. The Pakistani selectors seem to have finally realised who's in England's team and backroom staff. Alastair Cook plays with Kaneria at Essex. Gooch coaches at Essex. And more importantly, Andy Flower, played for years at Essex. They know about Kaneria's weaknesses, and now Kaneria has been sent back to Essex. Where he can't play. Because Essex have signed Bryce McGain. That'll be one to watch over the next few weeks.
Friday will be an incredibly interesting day. Especially if the conditions and pitch are suited to bowling. The bowling attacks are both incredibly talented. It's the batting and fielding that shows the gaps between the two sides. And at the moment, Bangladesh seemed to put up more of a fight. Take that, Geoffrey Boycott.