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Jonathan Agnew's England v Pakistan first Test preview

First Test, Trent Bridge: England v Pakistan
Dates: 29-July-2 August Start time: 1100 BST
Coverage: Live ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave and online; Live text commentary, daily reports and scorecard on BBC Sport website and mobiles; also live on Sky Sports

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Strauss focused on Pakistan Test

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Andrew Strauss inevitably faced a barrage of questions about the Ashes at his pre-match press conference but he is determined to focus purely on these four Tests against Pakistan.

It will help when the long awaited Test championship arrives to give every Test and every series its own context rather than allowing future events to distract us, but having said that, it is obvious that England will be in better shape for Australia if they beat Pakistan now, rather than lose to them.

I watched Pakistan beat Australia last week, and although they will always be either delightfully unpredictable or frustratingly disappointing, depending on your viewpoint, they have a very skilful attack which will test England in helpful conditions.

That is Pakistan's strength - their batting has a worryingly long tail and has an unstable feel to it that suggests it will be prone to collapse and a low score, or two. But Aamer, Gul and Asif showed commendable discipline and all bowled an excellent probing line.

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Eoin Morgan is fortunate that Ian Bell's foot injury has given him another extended opportunity against decent bowling to show that he can make the grade.

It was interesting that Strauss played down the standard of Bangladesh's bowlers when explaining Morgan's lapses against them, but I can't imagine he would do the same when talking about Jonathan Trott's double hundred at Lord's.

Success in international sport is all about taking your opportunity and the fact is that, so far, Trott and Bell seized the chance albeit against Bangladesh while Morgan did not.

But England's management want him in - they can see a calm and authoritative head on those shoulders and while it would make selection for the first Test in Brisbane a difficult task, I strongly suspect that runs for Morgan in this series would see him leap to the top of the queue.

Butt has high hopes for Pakistan squad

England's bowling attack seems nailed down now - James Anderson, Steve Finn and Stuart Broad are the first choice seamers with Graeme Swann as the frontline, attacking spinner.

We can bang on as much as we like about the need for England to play a balanced team with five bowlers, but they won't do it here, and they won't do it in Brisbane either.

That requires consistency, something that has eluded Anderson throughout his career, but if the forecast for cloudy and humid weather here this week proves to be correct, we can anticipate challenging swing bowling from both teams.



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see also
Strauss fully focused on Pakistan
28 Jul 10 |  England
Bresnan recalled to England squad
28 Jul 10 |  England
Collingwood cool on Pakistan hype
27 Jul 10 |  England
England facing Pakistan test
27 Jul 10 |  England
The enigma that is Pakistan
27 Jul 10 |  Cricket
Pakistan wrap up win over Aussies
24 Jul 10 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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