England need to get funky, writes Katya Witney.
The pitch in Rawalpindi isn’t offering any favours to the England bowlers, much like when Pakistan were fielding – their only option is to think outside the box to make a breakthrough. With more than 1,000 runs having been scored in three days and just 14 wickets taken, here are England’s best options.
Under law 40.1, “After the fall of a wicket or the retirement of a batter, the incoming batter must… be ready to receive the ball, or for the other batter to be ready to receive the next ball, within 3 minutes of the dismissal or retirement. If this requirement is not met, the incoming batter will be out, Timed out.”
The dismissal is cricket’s rarest, but England could try and manufacture one at Rawalpindi. If, by some miracle, a batter is traditionally dismissed, blockading the door of the Pakistan dressing room to delay the next batter’s entrance to the field could sneak another wicket. One brings two after all.
The role of chief body blocker surely has to be given to Brendon McCullum, a talented rugby player in his youth. He was even picked ahead of All-Black legend Dan Carter when he was at school. Now is the perfect opportunity to put his second sporting talent to good use.
A non-striker run-out
Ben Stokes has made his views on non-striker run-outs abundantly clear. However, as with all Mankads, the desperation for a wicket after his bowlers have only taken four in 450 runs is the ideal circumstance in which to change his mind. If either Mohammad Rizwan or Babar Azam are a millimetre out of the crease as the bowlers run in, then really that’s just careless on their part.
Employing a fielder at a close-in mid-wicket to watch the non-striker like a hawk would be a smart move. The uproar would be almighty, but the payoff might be worth it.
The trusty Barmy Army trumpeter, Simon Finch, has been blasting out the familiar tunes which follow the England team around the world throughout this Test. However, playing ‘Oh Jimmy Jimmy’ for the 50th time might not be the best use of his instrument. With the sun beating down in Rawalpindi, he could strategically position the silver trumpet so the sun reflects off it and down onto the pitch.
If he could get it at the exact right angle for a fraction of a second just as the ball is bowled, he could cause a flash of light into the batter’s eyes. This would temporarily distract them and cause them to lose sight of the ball. Once they regain full use of their vision, they will just see the ball clatter into the stumps behind them. With the flash potentially coming from anywhere and no one the wiser, it could be a perfect crime.
The virus which ran through the England team just before the Test match was enough to knock nearly all of them out for 24 hours and rule Ben Foakes out of the XI. If he’s still suffering from the bug, England have a viable bio-weapon on their hands. Concocting a plan to have some of the Pakistan batters touch something Foakes has been in contact with could see the mild illness spread to the opposition camp, and give the England bowlers some relief.
Turn back time
In all honesty, England’s most likely option to take a wicket is to change the surface on which they are bowling. The only way this would be possible is if they had a time machine to go back about three weeks and convince the groundsman it isn’t a good idea to prepare a wicket which is more suited to a timeless Test than modern Test cricket.
This option is about as likely to happen as England are to take 20 wickets through traditional means, unless James Anderson finally reveals the secret to his eternal youth is keeping a Tardis in his hotel room.