England’s use of bowlers in the first innings at Rawalpindi (1/12/22)

England’s spinners just took 8-405 within a total of 657. Pace bowlers only sent down a third of the overs: 50 across three days. A guy with 21 first class wickets at 53 bowled as much as the opening bowlers combined. So what happened, any why?

Anderson got 3 overs with each new ball, then three or four overs with a 30 over old ball. Just 16 of the first 120 overs. No doubt one eye on the second innings, and one on the Test starting on the 9th. I presume he would have bowled more had he had more success (22-4-52-1). Seems that England used short bursts to explore if Anderson would have favourable conditions (with new or old ball). He didn’t.

Stokes similarly got 3 overs with a 40 over old ball, then with the second new ball had a go slightly earlier with a 24 over old ball. That wasn’t what I’d expected – but Stokes averages over 40 with the new ball, so credit to Stokes’ England for giving new(ish) ball duties to the spinners.

Robinson had eight overs with new balls, then only 13 overs at other stages in the innings. He bowled so little that I didn’t see much of it, and can’t really comment.

Expect Mark Wood to return to the side for the second Test, in place of Liam Livingstone (knee injury). I see two reasons why Robinson didn’t bowl more: either rest bacause he’ll play the second Test ahead of Jamie Overton, or he looked so ineffective his overs were given to the part time spinner.

Will Jacks wasn’t someone I thought we’d see bowling much. 21 wickets at 53 in First Class cricket, and just as significantly he has bowled fewer than nine overs per game.

  • He made a good start – exerting control over the top four (1-76 at 3.3 rpo).
  • Babar Azam counter attacked, scoring at 7.4rpo before Jacks got him caught at point – a win for Will Jacks
  • Then 4-37 against numbers seven to eleven. Admittedly only two wickets were against the top order, but a good return (6-161) from a sixth bowler.

Imam ul Haq received more than half his balls from Jack Leach, making 54 before being dismissed. Not clear that England got their matchup right there if that was pre-planned.

So I can sort of understand England’s approach, and they may yet win. But when the opposition make 579 and you’re conserving bowlers because there are 15 days of Test cricket in 21, then maybe the scheduling is having unintended consequences that devalue the sport.