England captain Joe Root insisted his side could bounce back in the second and final Test against Pakistan at Headingley next week after a humiliating loss in the series-opener at Lord’s.
Pakistan completed a nine-wicket win inside four days on Sunday as England suffered their sixth defeat in eight Tests.
What made this latest reverse all the more embarrassing for England is that they are traditionally tough to beat at home in May, with many touring sides struggling to adjust when typically English conditions — overcast skies and green-tinged pitches — are at their most pronounced.
Yet it was Pakistan, fresh from a trio of county warm-up matches and a five-wicket win over Test debutants Ireland in Dublin, who looked as if they were the home side.
Their seam bowlers maintained a disciplined line and length as England, suffering their latest batting collapse, slumped to a meagre 184 all out in the first innings after Root won the toss.
England’s second innings was following a similar path at 110 for six before a century stands between Jos Buttler and Test debutant Dominic Bess prevented an even greater margin of defeat.
But the damage had been done and a Pakistan side who has long been a byword for poor fielding outplayed England in this area too.
“We know we’re under-performing…we’ve not performed to anywhere we need to,” Root said.
He was especially concerned by England’s batting.
Their efforts at Lord’s followed seven winless Tests in Australia and New Zealand where England lost their first five wickets for fewer than 150 runs on six occasions, including an embarrassing 58 all out in Auckland.
“It’s very disappointing,” Root told BBC’s Test Match Special. “We have been out-performed in all three departments, we have not batted well enough, first innings in particular.
“There have been a number of collapses recently and we have to find a way as a group.”
He added: “We are ambitious, we want to win but sometimes we make poor decisions.
“We’ve got to be smarter with that — guys have got to find a way of scoring runs.
“Ultimately it’s about the number of runs you score, not how long it takes you and maybe on occasions we need to absorb a bit more pressure.
“Over a longer period of time that’s going to pay dividends for us. We can do that next week and we must take that chance.”
– Opening pair struggles –
Mark Stoneman was twice out in single figures at Lord’s and the struggling left-handed opener’s place could now be under threat.
Stoneman and Alastair Cook are, statistically, England’s worst opening partnership, the duo averaging just 18.75 for the first wicket — the lowest average of any of the 16 England opening pairs that have batted together on at least 20 occasions.
Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, was unusually forthright in castigating his side’s specialist batsmen.
“(This) was nowhere near good enough for Test level…to be bowled out for 180 and 240 is simply not good enough.
“We keep making the same mistakes,” the Australian added.
“The batters have to have a good, hard, long look at themselves.”
Ed Smith, England’s new national selector, will face pressure to shake up the side after his first game in charge ended in a resounding defeat.
Nevertheless, Root warned: “It’s easy to look at (this result) and say ‘right, we need to make drastic changes’.
“But it’s not just one or two guys –- we were collectively all under par this week.
“It would be very easy to go into next week feeling sorry for ourselves and think there’s no way forward for us –- but absolutely there is.”