South Africa Under-19s v Pakistan Under-19s at Stellenbosch, Tri-Nation Under-19s Tournament

On the pitch:

Last night, while I slept, on the other side of the earth: Pakistan humbled England, and the two openers in Chennai batted on and on and on.

Re: the former: When I woke up and checked the score on my phone, at first I was a little confused. Pakistan had gotten to 338 in the first innings, okay, and then it appeared as if England were 160 for none in their second innings, but something didn’t look right, and then I saw it: “Pakistan won by 15 runs.”

England were not 160/0, they were 160 all out, bowled out by Gul and Ajmal. Then Hafeez and Umar came back out, batted for just shy of 30 minutes, and won the match.

Amazing turn of events.

I have not had a chance to read any commentary, any punditry, not even any tweets, but I must say this: England are in real trouble; they are going to lose this series.

Not 48 hours ago, I was reading articles from England fans saying that they had a real chance to win not just every series in 2012, but every match, as well.  And now the former dream is over, and the latter dream is in serious doubt.

Some might say that it is far too early to panic, that England is the number one test team on earth.

But, really, outside of the ICC rankings, are they?  Sure, we all know what happened last year: retaining the Ashes IN Australia, beatingSri Lanka 1-0 (thanks to one hapless day in Cardiff from the visitors), and white washing India (in England.) But they lost a series to the West Indies not three years ago, and before that most of the test results were mixed, at best.

Sure, the last two years have been a great run, but Bangladesh aside, they have not won outside of England or Australia since 2007/2008 in New Zealand; and they have not won on the subcontinent since 2000/2001 against Pakistana and Sri Lanka.

If we are going to lambaste India for losing outside of the subcontinent, then we need to paint England with similar strokes for their absolute failure to win in Asia.

And, yes, it is time to panic. They did not lose a squeaker in five days, they had their doors blown off, pure and simple.

Optimists will point to England’s resilient bowling as a silver lining, but I didn’t see resilient bowling, I saw bowling that allowed Pakistan to put up 338 runs on the same pitch that England were bowled out on for 192 and 160.  That’s not resilient bowling, that is troublesome and worrisome bowling.

And even if Monty Panesar comes into the squad and evens out the attack with more spin, then what of England’s batting?  I can only assume that the wicket will be similar in Abu Dhabi, and Pakistan surely will not make any squad changes, and this is an England side that saw the majority of its top order batsmen losing their wickets with single digit run totals.

Cook’s two innings total? Eight.

Pietersen’s? Two.

Bell’s? Four.

That’s 14 total runs from three of England’s best batsmen.

Troublesome.  Worrisome.

For England.

Pakistan on the other hand? They look unstoppable. Unfortunately, they will not be playing a test series against the other scorching hot team in world cricket, Australia, until the fall of 2014.

The second test of #pakveng starts on the 26th and it very well could be the most important test of 2012 for England.

Meanwhile, in Chennai, Rajasthan won the toss, put Tamil Nadu in the field, and Chopra and Saxena batted on and on and on and on. 221/0 – a big score in a match where the tiebreaker is first innings runs.

I had a lot of fun watching that match last night, and hope to be able to watch more tonight.

Also, tonight, look for a LimitedOvers style preview of the only New Zealand v Zimbabwe test.

Until then.

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