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Cricket news - Silverwood challenges England's bowlers after an off-colour opening day
Both Anderson and Broad were unable to provide a breakthrough
At the end of the first day at Emirates Old Trafford, England head coach Chris Silverwood set his side a challenge. England's four pronged pace-attack bowled very well in the opening session, albeit with only one wicket to show for it, but after lunch, they lost control as Shan Masood and Babar Azam scored 66 runs in 16 overs before rain intervened. For a team that prides itself on keeping the opposition's run rate under three runs an over, it was a disappointing passage of play. The challenge Silverwood set in response? "How can we wrestle that control of the game back faster?"
"The morning session, I thought we bowled very well and showed what we were capable of," Silverwood told Sky Sports at the end of play. "Credit to Pakistan, I thought they played very well. The second session after lunch, we came out and we weren't as good as we should have been, really. We weren't on the money. The standards we set ourselves in the first session, we weren't there if we are brutally honest.
"The boys have talked about it, they know there were too many easy balls to hit. We have addressed that. You lose a bit of momentum, maybe a bit of concentration. A couple of bad balls and the momentum swings to the batting side and it's difficult to wrestle back. Unfortunately, sometimes that just snowballs. The challenge is, how do we address that, how do we wrestle that momentum back into our favour quicker?"
One of England's principles under Silverwood is to keep the run rate as low as possible but they couldn't do that in the middle session. James Anderson was strangely off colour, conceding 16 runs three overs, Not that the rest of the bowlers fared much better. Jofra Archer conceded 15 runs from 3.1 overs in that spell while Dom Bess's first five overs cost 22. Only Stuart Broad, whose economy rate was just a tick over three runs an over in that session, kept some sort of control. England managed only three maidens in those 16 overs compared to seven in the first 25.
Silverwood was particularly disappointed with the number of poor balls on offer which Babar, in particular, wasted little time in putting away. England conceded 12 boundaries in the 16 overs between lunch and the arrival of the wet weather with Pakistan's number four helping himself to nine of them. During that phase of play, England were unable to keep any semblance of pressure on the Pakistani batsmen. No sooner had a number of dot balls been bowled, they were followed by a boundary, losing the control that had begun to build up.
Although Silverwood set down the challenge for his players, they had, according to the coach, already identified the problem on their way back into the dressing room at the end of the second session. "To be honest, I was just reiterating some of the conversations that were already happening," he said. "There's a lot of experience out there and a lot of good leaders out there as well and they were already talking about it. It's just recognising situations and getting better at wrestling that back."
England might have hoped for greater rewards in the opening session. Pakistan, who picked a pair of leg-spinners in Yasir Shah and Shahdab Khan, opted to bat first after winning the toss on a pitch that Silverwood confirmed had started drier than either of the two surfaces used during the West Indies series. And yet there was enough movement on offer in the first session to give England's bowlers a chance of making inroads. They removed Abid Ali and Azhar Ali and passed the edge numerous times but couldn't find a way through Masood and Babar in the first two hours of play.
"If you are asking good questions and beating the outside edge all the time, which is what we aim to do - we aim to make them play as much as possible, control the rate - if you are doing that, you are doing your job," Silverwood said. "Sometimes the edges come, sometimes they don't. It's all about asking good questions and getting the ball in good areas as often as possible, especially with the new ball."
Silverwood also pointed out that England did create chances during Masood and Babar's unbeaten 96 run partnership. Masood was badly dropped by Jos Buttler off the bowling of Bess before the rain break, when the batsman had 45, and then England's wicket-keeper missed a stumping off the same bowler against the same batsman in the 7.5 overs possible in the final session. That was a harder chance, with the ball bouncing more than would have been expected from a delivery that was relatively full. It ended up hitting Buttler on the shoulder although he will still be disappointed not to have taken it given Masood was well out of his crease.
Although Buttler made a half-century in the first innings of the final Test against West Indies, his place in England's Test side is still not certain. The conjecture about his position in the team has largely been down to a lack of runs - he averages 23.16 since last summer's Ashes - while his keeping has generally sound. Ben Foakes, Surrey's wicket-keeper, is in England's bio-secure bubble as a reserve, however, and he is generally regarded as the best gloveman in the country. Buttler will not want to make many more errors with the gloves to increase the scrutiny on his place in the side even further.
If either of those chances had been taken, the complexion of England's day would have been brighter. As it is, Pakistan are on top, albeit not significantly so given just 49 overs were possible because of the inclement weather in Manchester. "Looking forward in this game, there is still a lot of cricket to play," Silverwood said. "There's no reason we can't wrestle ourselves back in front." The challenge has been laid down to England's bowlers. Can they rise to it on day two?
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