ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – England coach Andy Flower on Sunday hinted at making changes to the team for the third test against Pakistan after losing the first two matches of their series.
Pakistan took an unassailable 2-0 lead with a remarkable 72-run win in the second test on Saturday as England was bowled out for just 72 as it chased 145.
“We have to go into this third test and pick what we think is the best XI to try and win the game,” Flower said. “If that means making a change here and there, then we won’t be afraid to do that.”
Middle-order batsmen Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan could all be in line to lose their places after flopping against Pakistan spinners in the first two tests.
The three struggling batsmen have jointly contributed just 94 runs in the four test innings at Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“Selection is an important and sometimes tricky part of our job and going into this third test there will be some important decisions to be made,” Flower said.
Recalled spinner Monty Panesar — playing his first test since 2009 — had placed England in an ideal position to level the series with his six-wicket haul on Saturday before the batsmen let the side down.
“We didn’t put any pressure on their bowlers in the second innings,” Flower said. “We allowed them to bowl and create pressure … the conditions to play against quality spinners were difficult and we weren’t good enough.”
All the England batters fell to Pakistan’s spinning trio as Flower watched the innings crumble in just 36.1 overs.
“Yesterday was tough watching for anyone who loves England cricket,” he said.
England has not won a test series in Asia for a decade and the subcontinent-like conditions in the Gulf exposed the weakness of its batters in adjusting to the slow nature of pitches where the ball does not come on to the bat.
Flower conceded that his team was not good enough to threaten Pakistan spinners Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman or even offspinner Mohammad Hafeez, who opened the bowling in the second innings with the new ball.
“We realize that we haven’t been very skilful in dealing with that type of cricket,” he said. “In saying that, it’s also right to praise the Pakistan team for what they have done. They beat us fair and square. They have beaten us properly in two matches.
“They have fought hard and worked hard at their game and in a way I’m very happy for them. It’s good for their cricket and it’s good for their country.”