Gooch expects match-winning hand
England’s batsmen were again obliged to tackle more inhospitable conditions in the npower Test series, but Graham Gooch suspects a major innings from one of their number could prove decisive at Lord’s.
Only 12.3 overs were possible on the first morning of the fourth Test, and England might easily have suffered worse than losing captain Andrew Strauss in the hour of play possible.
There was, perhaps, a little relief in former England opener Gooch’s voice when he conceded batting has been far from easy, though not impossible, throughout the series, which England lead 1-0 going into this decisive final Test.
“Both bowling sides have had good conditions to bowl in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t score runs,” said the England batting coach.
“On a flat wicket, invariably it’s your bowlers who have to take 20 wickets and win you the game.
“On wickets we’ve seen this summer, it’s possibly a batsman who can win you the game - because 60 or 70 on this sort of wicket is worth maybe 120 or 130 on a flat one.
“It’s been difficult for the batsmen on both sides. But you still should be able to score runs.”
Gooch sees mitigation in conditions and opposition for his team’s mediocre returns, but sees no sign of the strain taking its toll on Strauss.
Strauss has now gone 23 Test innings without century, dating back to England’s Ashes win on this ground last year, although he has made valuable contributions at the Brit Insurance Oval, Durban and Edgbaston in that time.
“I haven’t seen anything get to him,” said Gooch. “I think he’s captained the side really well,” he said.
“With every batsman, if you don’t score runs, you can’t be completely happy.
“That’s not just him personally, that’s anyone - because that’s your role in the side, to provide the platform for your bowlers to win the game.
“But the Pakistan attack are decent. They get something out of the pitch, and it’s a challenge, that’s for sure.
“He is not out of form. What happened here today and at the Oval...I’ve been there. You are vulnerable if you get a good ball and your judgement is not spot on.”
Similar remarks apply to Kevin Pietersen, who is yet to take guard in this match but has had no opportunity to do so in any domestic cricket this summer because of the abrupt end to his employment at Hampshire.
“He’s got to transfer the way he prepares and practises into the middle,” Gooch advises. “Obviously he’s desperate to make a score, like any player.
“But you’ve got to get the balance between attack and defence, what I call how you manage the batting.
“You get confidence from scoring runs in the middle. That is an important part of feeling good as a player.”