Cricket fans have savaged the 'horrendous' pitch in Rawalpindi after England shattered all manner of Test records on an extraordinary opening to their series in Pakistan. Four of England's top five batters reached triple figures on the opening day of the first Test as the tourists reached 4-506 at stumps on Thursday.
It marks the first time in cricket history that a side has made over 500 runs on the first day of a Test, breaking Australia's record of 494 set in 1910 against South Africa. Zak Crawley (122) blasted the fastest century by an England opener ever (86 balls), with Ben Duckett (107 off 110), Ollie Pope (108 off 104) and Harry Brook (101 not out off 81) all following with hundreds of their own.
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It was the first time in history that four players have reached triple figures on the first day of a Test. On their first Test tour of Pakistan since 2005, England's batters looked like they'd carried over the team's form from their victorious T20 World Cup campaign. Only Joe Root (23 off 31) failed to fire, as Ben Stokes went to stumps on 34 not out off just 15 balls.
Crawley and Duckett combined for a 233-run opening stand before Brook illustrated England's new 'Bazball' approach - named after coach Brendon McCullum - when he smashed six fours in an over from Saud Shakeel. England are playing much freer under Stokes' captaincy and McCullum's coaching.
"They were all bad balls, so I tried to put them away really," Brook said of the massive over. "I was probably happier with that than my 100 to be honest."
Pope said after the day's play: "I think it's the ideal start to the tour. We really listened to what Baz and Stokesy have said. It was an amazing day. The best thing is everyone has lived by how the two guys up top want us to play. They want us to entertain people.
"It is not about milestones. It is about putting on a show and putting the team in a good position. The fact everyone is so happy to buy into that puts us in a really good place."
Cricket world in disbelief over 'insane' scenes
Duckett's ton marked a dream return to the England Test side after a six-year hiatus. The 28-year-old was left in disbelief by his feats.
"Very special, pretty crazy day and a crazy build-up to the Test match. For me personally, it's a special day, it's one I didn't think that'll come around," Duckett said. "I don't think there will be a better environment to be involved in. I am sure there will be a lot of cricketers in England who will want to be part of it. It went well today.
"It helps being in these conditions, I knew it was going to be nice batting conditions. The T20 series [in Pakistan] was a big confidence thing for me."
Crawley was equally in awe, saying: "I've never seen a day like that. I think it is the record in day one of a Test, so it was unbelievable. Ducky batted fantastically and so did the other two boys. Hopefully we can go again tomorrow, get a big one and get a thousand - I'm joking."
The Test almost didn't start as planned, with England only confirming they had 11 players two hours before the toss due to illness running through the squad. Pakistan were probably wishing it didn't start after England destroyed a host of records in only 75 overs when play ended prematurely because of bad light.
While fans were left in awe of England's record-shattering display, others couldn't help but decry the state of the pitch in Rawalpindi. Some labelled the preparation of the pitch 'horrendous', while others declared it an 'awful' look for Test cricket.
Still can't believe how 🏴 have made 5️⃣0️⃣6️⃣ runs in a day ?????
— Shamoeel Vlogs_official 🇵🇰 (@VlogsShamoeel) December 1, 2022
— Noor Hafeez Abbasi (@noor_babarian56) December 1, 2022
— Jazzy 🏴🏴🇧🇷 (@UtdJazzy) December 1, 2022
Watching highlights of #PAKvENG and can’t help thinking that
A. The pitch is an absolute road
B. Pakistan’s bowling attack is inexperienced in test terms
C. England punished all the bad balls
But above all that
D. Pakistan we’re AWFUL in the field
— Michael Penhale (@vetenari) December 1, 2022
There's no point & feel in talking about records & genius stuff being put when EVERY. BODY. can come out & hit a 80-ball 100 in a Test match. It indicates one thing only - HORRENDOUS PITCH. #PAKvENG #ENGvPAK #RamizRaja #PakistanCricket
— Ani (@anirudhani_) December 1, 2022
If this is the way test match is going, please scrap it.
Test matches should be a even contest in most of matches and this is utter shite.
What’s the logic behind this pitch preparation. Why the hell anyone wants to be a fast bowler here.
— INPLAY (@InplayCricc) December 1, 2022
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