DUBAI // Is someone sat on the fast-forward button? This Test series was always supposed to be brief, with three matches to be played back to back, and at venues barely 80 miles apart. But this is getting ridiculous now.
If this morning brings the same havoc as yesterday’s first session did, this could become the first Test match for the Twitter generation: all over in 140 overs. Hash tag: shockingbatting.
“Not so far,” Mohsin Khan, Pakistan’s coach, said when asked whether he had experienced any crazier opening days in a Test cricket career which goes back to his Test debut as a player in 1978.
“England are the No 1 team in the world. We in Pakistan feel that we are one of the best sides in the world, [but still] 16 wickets fell on the first day.”
The collective haul of 16 wickets for 203 runs made a joke of the pre-series forecast for a string of bore-draws on featherbed batting wickets in the desert, but that had already become an old chestnut a while back.
When Pakistan and England started their first Test series in the UAE with a three-day Test in Dubai two weeks ago, much was made of the fact they did not even make it to the weekend.
By the way they performed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday may be enough to complete this game.
At least the public got the chance to make the most of a Friday off to watch the cricket.
Although they were far from full, and some way down on the numbers who watched the final stages of the Abu Dhabi match, the stands were less empty on Friday than they had been in that first Test.
It might have been more. No doubt a number of Pakistan supporters opted against making the trip to Sports City after Friday prayers, once they heard the news that their side would be all out by the time they arrived.
While these Tests will have done little for the bank balances of the Pakistan Cricket Board or the local organising authorities, the golf clubs of Dubai have probably done all right out of them.
With two full days lost in the first Test, another in the second in the capital, and the promise of a few more this time around, the sizable travelling support following England have found themselves with plenty of time to kill. Sales of green fees must be up.
“It was probably good watching for the neutral,” said James Anderson, the fast bowler who sparked the frenzy when he dismissed Taufeeq Umar in the first over of the game.
The idea that this was a Test for the modern generation was emphasised by the overbearing presence of technology involved in Friday’s play.
The Decision Review System (DRS) was called on ad nauseum. It reached a point where umpires, batsmen and bowlers alike were queuing up to send cricket’s version of Big Brother to Room 101.
Despite the chaos the DRS wrought, Mohsin argued that the game is far better for it. The coach seems amiable enough as it is, but said he would have been “a much happier person”, had the system been around in his day.
Anderson saw the best and worst of it. “At the end of the day, they get the decisions right,” said Anderson, whose haul of three for 35 complemented an outstanding return of four for 36 from his new-ball partner, Stuart Broad.
“It creates more drama throughout the day. For the neutral, I guess it makes for pretty exciting watching. Not so much when you are a player, and you are out there hanging on a reply to decide whether you are going be given out or not.”