January 27, 2023

BUMBLE ON THE TEST: Ben Stokes’ strategic agility kept his side one step ahead and the invaluably quick Mark Wood gave it his all… it’s all sunshine for England heading into Karachi – unlike the snow and fog I’m experiencing on the Yorkshire countryside!

The England bowlers kept their nerve on day four during Pakistan’s gutsy last innings chase of 355 to seal a smash win with 26 runs and a stunning series win.

Ben Stokes, who showed great leadership in handing the ball to Mark Wood before lunch, watched his fast bowlers steer Pakistan’s mid and lower order to record an eighth Test win in nine games since becoming captain.

Wood took the vital wickets from Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Nawaz to bring momentum back to England ahead of the afternoon session, before he, James Anderson and Ollie Robinson finished the job against Pakistan’s tail.

Sports emails David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd picks out his talking points from day four.

Mark Wood (centre) helped England to a stunning 26-run victory against Pakistan on Monday

Mark Wood (centre) helped England to a stunning 26-run victory against Pakistan on Monday

Ben Stokes has now led his side to eight Test wins in his first nine games as captain

Ben Stokes has now led his side to eight Test wins in his first nine games as captain

There are not many teams that go to Pakistan and end up with two after two tests. What a win this is for Ben Stokes and England.

It’s a triumph for everything he, Brendon McCullum and Rob Key have done since they took over early last summer and there can be no doubt they really mean business with this style of play now.

You get the impression that Pakistan got the fields they wanted at Rawalpindi and Multan. And England beat them on a flat and now one with a little curve.

I wish I had a say in the fields England played at home when I was a coach. I couldn’t get near a gardener! I was told ‘it has nothing to do with you…’

The partnership of Captain Stokes (L) and Brendon McCullum (R) continues to pay off

The partnership of Captain Stokes (L) and Brendon McCullum (R) continues to pay off

I like England’s flexibility in the field. It is not self-evident that they open the bowling there with Jimmy Anderson, for example.

They go into great detail about which bowlers they want to bowl against which batters. Under Stokes they always seem one step ahead.

What a gem Mark Wood is. He will never do three or four tests together because of the strain he puts on his body, but he gives it his all every time he bowls and he showed the power of pace.

If you’re quick, you’re an invaluable asset to the team, regardless of the opposition. Real pace can upset the very best on any surface.

Abrar Ahmed continued his excellent bowling display with an entertaining batting cameo

Abrar Ahmed continued his excellent bowling display with an entertaining batting cameo

Pakistan played a full role in this Test. They had a chap on debut in Abrar Ahmed who took 11 wickets and briefly looked like he could also be the unlikely batting hero of the last day. Where was he in the first test?

But Pakistan will falter over these defeats. It’s the first time England have played there in 17 years and they didn’t expect it to go this way.

My message to England now is: don’t step off the gas. Can you imagine them winning 3-0? It’s unheard of!

And so on to Karachi, where I remember once working with Ian Botham. We were there during Ramadan and Beefy walked to the reception of our hotel with four cans of beer.

A bunch of people came by and said, “No, no, Mr. Beefy, you can’t drink them.” He just said ‘that’s fine, go ahead. I’m all for it.’ And sat there drinking his cans.

Wood took two quick wickets before the lunch break to regain momentum for England

Wood took two quick wickets before the lunch break to regain momentum for England

Stokes' tactical flexibility in the field helped England fast bowler James Anderson (R) thrive

Stokes’ tactical flexibility in the field helped England fast bowler James Anderson (R) thrive

Conditions in Pakistan are a stark contrast to back home, where snow and fog have had a serious impact on my early days in the North Yorkshire countryside.

The ground is rock hard and everything is frozen, including my new greenhouse and potting shed. And the chickens – Hilda, Dot and Maude – have downed tools and won’t leave their house!

No eggs for breakfast! It’s grim in the north.

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