David Lloyd reviews day three of the third and final Test of the series between England and Pakistan in Sharjah.
Bad start to the day. We have a 20-minute journey to Sharjah from our hotel in Dubai Creek down a 48-lane motorway but we had a different driver and 55 minutes later we were heading back to Dubai. I couldn’t get through to the lad but of course Sir Ian Botham took it all in his stride and was good-natured about the whole episode...
Amazing what you find at an international cricket ground. The groundsman here in Sharjah has got a full allotment out the back growing all his own food and equipped with livestock including two goats, several cats chickens and a rooster! The goats have seen better days - a bit like this pitch.
I’m still keeping a keen and expert eye on England’s 10 minute football match every morning after my success a couple of years back in coaching the England Media team to a notable victory in Australia. Alastair Cook has been sidelined now because they can’t risk him with his dodgy groin in case he comes up against the battering ram up front in Liam Plunkett. He reminds me of that Macdonald – not Malcolm but Trevor….
England do, of course, have a former professional footballer in their midst in Phil Neale, who was a stalwart at Lincoln City at the same time as he was having a long county career with Worcestershire. Phil is celebrating his 200th Test here as the team’s operations manager and is such an important, unsung hero around the team. He dots the I’s, crosses the T’s and gets everyone from A to B. He does a brilliant job behind the scenes, does Phil….
Lovely to get a text message from an old friend of this column in Bob ‘The Cat’ Bevan, who contacted me in his capacity as the ex-president of Kent. Turns out Bob is always thrilled to be mentioned here but sadly he told me he won’t be able to make it out to the UAE for this tour. I could have sworn that was him abseiling down the Burj Kalifa too and calling the locals to prayer at the local mosque the other day….
England had a healthy lead but I fear the worst now. It was pretty plain sailing for Pakistan against the spinners. I think a target of 200 or above will be a bit too much for England because of the superior spin of Pakistan. It is pretty clear their slow bowlers are more potent than ours and that is the key...
Samit Patel looked really at home in Test cricket in these conditions. He coped with the spin well and played some lovely shots and did his job for England. Samit is 70 per cent batsman and 30 per cent bowler and it took a delivery from Yasir Shah reminiscent of Shane Warne’s ball of the century to Mike Gatting to get rid of him…
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