England have taken significant encouragement from their opening warm-up match in the United Arab Emirates with seamer Mark Wood describing it as “perfect preparation” for next week’s first Test against Pakistan.
England will face a vastly different task to the one presented by Australia in the summer and were given a stark reminder of the patience and graft required in searing heat on the final day of the drawn two-day match.
England posted 286 for five yesterday, with four batsmen passing 50, before they made an immediate impression today, reducing the hosts to 32 for three.
Progress was slowed by a century stand between Iftikhar Ahmed and Fawad Ahmed thereafter, not to mention the UAE heat, but in the difficult conditions England found reasons to feel they are gearing up well for the start of the Test series.
“It was perfect preparation,” Wood said.
“The ball ‘reversed’ a little bit – which is key for us. It’s going to be vital during the series that we get the ball moving off the straight – and we managed to do that today.
“We got used, during the summer, to playing this attacking brand of cricket – where we’ve been trying to blast teams out.
“That aggressive style is what we want to play at home … (but this) is totally different.”
Wood admits the more stoic approach England will have to employ to enjoy success over the next month does not come naturally to his jovial persona.
Wood was arguably the most impressive of the seamers first up this morning – rewarded by a stunning Stuart Broad catch at square-leg – but he knows patience will be a virtue once the ball gets older on unresponsive pitches.
“The type of character I am, I wouldn’t say I’m a naturally patient bloke … I’m hyper-active and want to be in the action all the time,” he said.
“But it’s the way the cricket is here, and I have to adapt if I want to keep my spot in the team. I tried a few different things, tried to be aggressive at times … but I have to be patient at times as well.”
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England’s seamers are likely to play second fiddle to the spinners with Moeen and Adil Rashid in line to share the spin load.
Already, Wood says he has seen signs they are up to the task, adding: “The spinners showed today they’re going to be vital. Moeen Ali, I thought, assessed the conditions really well and bowled a great pace.
“Then Adil Rashid, if chances had been taken off him, I think he’s proved he’s a wicket-taking bowler. I thought they were excellent.
“I think, if we need to break a partnership, those two are going to be vital.”
If the spin duo are to do well then they could be stuck with a new moniker of ‘Tweedledee and Tweedledum’ – coined only last night after the players stayed in watching movies.
“‘Tweedledee and Tweedledum’ are going to be perfect together in these conditions,” added Wood.
“We watched ‘Mike Bassett’ last night, and there was a midfield partnership of ‘Tweedledee and Tweedledum’ – so I think they’re going to get that nickname now.”
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