In 2016, the Pakistani national cricket team is set to embark on its tour of England. The series will consist of four test matches, five ODIs and a single T20 match and will run from 14th July – 7th September. The series represents the first international cricket played by Pakistan since the 2016 T20 World Cup, and their first test cricket since their 2015 tour of Sri Lanka. For England, this series is the follow-up to a successful series on home soil against Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s ability to knock off the rust and get quickly back into form will be paramount to their chances of coming away victorious. Here at TSZ, we have looked into the stats to preview the upcoming series. As with the series against Sri Lanka, England vs Pakistan will use a points-based scoring system, which will spread across all three formats. However, since the squads for both ODIs and T20s have yet to be announced, this preview will predominantly focus on the test matches.
On the 14th of July, the summer series between England and Pakistan gets underway. England will be looking to continue their strong start to the summer, where they outplayed and outclassed Sri Lanka across all formats. Whether Pakistan’s lack of recent competitive cricket will play a factor in the outcome is yet to be determined, however one thing is for sure, whether it’s the play on the field (Pakistan’s thrilling win at the MCG in 1992 or England's famous victory at Karachi in 2001/02) or the controversies off it (the spot-fixing scandal of 2010 or Botham, Lamb and Khan’s legal battle in 1996), these series have always been memorable. After England used a new points scoring system for their previous series against Sri Lanka, the same points system will be used for this series against Pakistan. This system has been dubbed a ‘Super Series’, and in this new arrangement four points are awarded for winning a Test match and two points for wins in ODIs and T20 matches.
England will start the series as favourites. Currently ranked No. 4 in tests and No. 5 in ODIs and T20s, the team is notoriously difficult to beat on home soil. However, despite their successful start to the summer, many questions still remain around the England test side, and in particular the makeup of its top five. It is a weakness that has been identified by the opposition, with Wahab Riaz calling England's middle order “fragile”. While the quality of skipper Alastair Cook and vice captain Joe Root is not in question, the same cannot be said about the rest of the top order. England has been marred recently by batting collapses and a trend is occurring whereby if Cook and Root don’t get the runs, then the scoring is left to the lower-middle order. Whilst Jonny Bairstow is currently enjoying the summer of his life, it is unreasonable to expect him to continuously bat England to a healthy total. The troubles of the top 5 are even more apparent when we look at the average runs scored by England’s top 5 batsmen against positions 6 – 11, since May 2015. The top 5 average only 32.56 runs per inning whereas the positions 6 – 11 are averaging 29.07. A discrepancy of just three runs between your premier run scorers and the rest of the team is not a statistic in which continued success can be built upon. With batting slots No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 likely to be claimed in the first test by Alex Hales, the recalled Gary Ballance and James Vince, they will all be looking to pileup big scores to help alleviate some of the pressure on both themselves and the others. This need for runs couldn’t be more pressing than in the first test, where the loss of James Anderson with a shoulder injury will surely have a detrimental effect on the teams bowling attack. To replace Anderson, England have called up Nottinghamshire pace-man Jake Ball and Middlesex quickie, Toby Roland-Jones.
Pakistan start the series as underdogs. Despite being ranked higher than England in tests (No. 3), the same is not true in the shorter formats of the game where they are ranked No. 9 in ODIs and No. 7 in T20s. Also, while being away from home is a disadvantage for most teams, this is perhaps even truer for Pakistan. Since June 2011, Pakistan have played a total of 37 test matches; 31 of which have been in Asia. Their only experience outside of this continent has been during the 2013 tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe, where the side registered just one win (vs Zimbabwe) in five test matches. The lack of challenging experience the Pakistan players have on English soil may prove costly in their efforts to return home victorious. Although many of the senior players have plied their trade at the English counties at one time or another, this is not the same as dealing with the highest class of bowling, in such foreign conditions. The openers so far have looked lost in the warm-up games against Somerset and Sussex and if Pakistan are to produce large totals, it would seem that much reliance will fall upon the shoulders of captain Misbah-ul-Haq, the ageless Younis Khan and Azhar Ali. However, even these greats will have to come to terms with the pace, bounce and swing the English bowlers will get; conditions which are much less common on the sub-continent. Pakistan’s main strength, it would seem, comes from their bowling attack. They possess a couple of extraordinary talents in Mohammad Amir and wrist-spinner Yasir Shah, who are ably backed up by Wahab Raiz, Imran Khan, Sohail Khan and Rahat Ali. As expected, much of the focus will fall on Amir, who last time at Lords in 2010 took figures of 6-84 in 28.0 overs during England's first innings. Amir and Pakistan will be hoping the papers will be talking about his performance on the field, as opposed to his history off it. Regardless of the outcome though, given the quality of the players on show, the tournament promises to be an extremely exciting one, for both the fans in attendance and viewers watching at home.
Last Time Out
Pakistan last toured England in the summer of 2010, playing four tests, five ODIs and two T20s. England enjoyed plenty of success, winning the four match test series3-1, the five match ODI series 3-2 and the T20 series 2-0. The series, however, was overshadowed by allegations of spot-fixing made against a number of the Pakistani players. The allegations were eventually confirmed and resulted in the suspension of three Pakistani players (Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir) from all cricket related activity for times ranging from five to ten years.
The 2016 tour will consist of four test matches, five ODIs and a single T20 match. The four test matches will be held at Lord’s, London; Old Trafford, Manchester; Edgbaston, Birmingham; The Oval, London. The five ODIs will be held at The Rose Bowl, Southampton; Lord’s, London; Trent Bridge, Nottingham; Headingley, Leeds; Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. The lone T20 match will take place at Old Trafford, Manchester.
* Given are the test squads for both England and Pakistan. The full squad lists for the ODIs and T20 has yet to be released.
Here we take a look into some of the underlying statistics of both the England and Pakistan test squads:
* For the tests, we have only given the players in the squads selected. Since the ODI and T20 squads are yet to be announced, we have given all players ranked in the top 100.
** For the tests, we have given the average of those players who are recognized as batsmen (batsmen/all-rounders) or bowlers (bowlers/all-rounders) in the squad demographic above. Since the ODI and T20 squads are yet to be announced, the same statistics cannot be accurately calculated for these formats.