England prepared to put in hard yards
England know for sure they are in for three instalments of “old-school Test cricket” against Pakistan after the first day's play on their tour of the United Arab Emirates.
Stuart Broad and his bowling colleagues found out the hard way against an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI what they already suspected - that taking wickets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be mighty tiring work this winter.
Broad made the most of the new ball, after Andrew Strauss had won the toss in this three-day warm-up match, to take a wicket in each of his first three overs and reduce the ICC XI to 10 for three at the Global Cricket Academy ground in Dubai Sports City.
But Christi Viljoen and Mohammad Shahzad - with 98 and 51 respectively - led the fightback to help their team to 281, before England reached stumps on 16 for none in reply.
Broad, in his first match since suffering a shoulder injury at Lord’s in September, was nonetheless highly-satisfied at stumps with both his own well-being and England’s work-out.
“The bowlers are pretty happy with bowling the ICC XI out for that,” he said. “The conditions have been great, because they’re quite similar to what I think we’ll face in the Test matches.
“It would be no good coming here and having a wicket that seams everywhere and isn’t actually getting the miles in our legs.”
Broad, who took 4-46, got his team off to a flier but then had to wait until the final ball of the innings for his last wicket.
“Getting four wickets with the new ball was crucial,” he added. “It didn’t do loads, but there was something to keep you interested.
“That’s going to be crucial for us in the Test match series, to use the new ball and the second new ball wisely.
“Then that period from 50 to 80 (overs) is going to be a real holding role, I think. We’re not going to be able to burst through Pakistan, because I just don’t think the wickets are going to be suited to that.
“We got the ball ’reversing’ a tiny bit today, but the wicket had gone quite slow by then - so it was hard to burst through their defences. The bowling unit were aware of that, but I think today highlighted it.”
Broad expects England to bat well on the benign surface, and has no doubt today’s experience will prove a reliable guide to what is to come against Pakistan.
“I think that wicket is pretty good. I think we might enjoy batting on that,” he said.
“It could have been worse. We’re all happy to have bowled them out, but it was hard work - and we’re all aware this Test series is going to be like that, attritional cricket, going at two-and-a-half or three-an-over and fielding for long periods of time to try to bowl teams out for 300 or 350 in probably about 120 overs. That’s old-school Test cricket, I suppose.”
Broad knows exactly how much work he got through, because England were fitted with GPS tracking technology in their vests.
He reported no soreness in his bowling arm in his first spell after injury, but accepts he will feel a few aches and pains by tomorrow.
“The shoulder seems fine, stronger than it was before,” he revealed. “Whatever you do in the gym, nothing gets your body like doing 90 overs in the field - so I’m a little bit scared of waking up tomorrow.
“We’ve had these GPS things on today, and mine shows I’ve done more than 16K - so I will be a little bit sore in the morning.”