Misbah-ul-Haq has admitted his batsmen did not have “any clue” how to handle the reverse swing generated by the England bowlers on the final day at Edgbaston.
Pakistan lost four wickets for one run in mid-afternoon as England’s seamers transformed conditions that Misbah described as “easy” before lunch to those which they “could not handle”.
It lead Misbah to suggest, with tongue in cheek, that Pakistan might have to think about sending their young bowlers to England to learn how to master the art of reverse swinging the ball; an irony considering it was Pakistan bowlers who perfected the art and England, for many years, were tortured by it.
“Until lunch it was easy,” Misbah said. “But after lunch they got it reversing and we were not having any clue. We were trying to cope with it, but we could not handle it.
“Anderson and Broad are used to these conditions. They are really experienced. Full credit to England for the way they fought back after we had a lead of more than 100.
“I think we’ll just have to send someone to learn from England now how they’re reversing this ball. We could not do it even on the fourth day. I think they are really doing it well.”
While Alastair Cook rated the victory as one of his most pleasing as England captain, he dismissed the possibility that England could reach No 1 in the Test rankings over the next few weeks as “an irrelevance.”
It is possible that, if England win the final Test and India do not win against West Indies, that England could reach the top spot. But Cook feels his side are still a couple of years from their peak and seems to regard the landmark as something of a distraction at present.
“If we become number one there, that’s fantastic,” Cook said. “But it will be a bit of an irrelevance, because this side has still got much further to go.
“If we do win at The Oval, I wouldn’t say we are anywhere near our potential. I thought that might come in a couple of years’ time.”
Cook was especially pleased by the nature of the win bearing in mind that nobody in his side scored a century or claimed a five-wicket haul. Instead it was an impressive team performance with all five of his frontline bowlers claiming two wickets in the second innings – including Steven Finn, who bowled with hostility and claimed his first wickets of the series – while all seven batsmen contributed decent scores. England were not reliant on one or two outstanding individuals.
“Everyone will be in the dressing-room feeling proud to be part of the team and feeling like they contributed,” Cook said. “That doesn’t always happen.
But Cook refuted Misbah’s suggestion that the reverse swing was lavish and instead suggested it was his bowlers’ skill that magnified the small amount of assistance they gained.
Misbah could at least take some consolation in the emergence of Sami Aslam. The 20-year-old responded to his surprise call-up – this was his first first-class game of the year – by scoring 152 runs in the match and looking a player with the technique and temperament to enjoy a long career at this level.
But he admitted the balance of the Pakistan side – with just four bowlers carrying a heavy burden – was putting them at a disadvantage and highlighted England’s all-rounders as a key difference between the sides.
“Sami looks a compact player and has shown great temperament,” Misbah said. “I am happy that he did well against such type of bowling: experienced bowlers in their own conditions. The way he handled the pressure was good to see. It’s good to find this sort of opener for Pakistan.
“But having just four bowlers is a problem. We used to have Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik who could bowl, but here we don’t have that option now.
“England have Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes. Here Yasir Shah carries a tremendous load and this is a problem for us.”