The National's Sport cover for the Saturday, October 17 issue, featuring Alastair Cook as England reached 569 by stumps of Day 4 of the first Test in Abu Dhabi.
It came on the heels of Pakistan's declared 523, and Osman Samiuddin assesses the high-scoring match, almost certainly headed to a draw, and pinpoints the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium pitch for the batting dominance in this affair:
“Just after umpire Bruce Oxenford answered his appeal in the affirmative, Wahab Riaz just sat down by the side of the pitch. We will grant him tiredness, given that it was his 31st over of the innings and that he had bowled at an average speed of nearly 89mph.
“To repeat, that is an average speed.
“But it would be nice to imagine that it was a sit-in protest at the surface he had been given to bowl on.
“Who was the protest directed at? The curator of the Zayed Cricket Stadium would be the obvious target, but perhaps not the right one.
“This is a home Test for Pakistan, which has exactly the same implications for the nature of a pitch that it does for home sides across the world. That is, there are no instructions for the preparation of a particular kind of pitch, but there is, ahem, guidance and expectation that it will conform to what suits the home side best.
“In the past, but not this season, the Pakistan Cricket Board has sent curators well ahead of a series to “assist” in the preparation of pitches in the UAE.
“Nobody will ever know exactly how this surface came to be the way it is, but it is impossible to think that the late withdrawal of Yasir Shah, to injury, did not have a grave impact on it.”
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