Humiliation in UAE a huge reality check

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen

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England suddenly look nothing like the top Test-playing cricket nation in the world.

The humiliating series defeat at the hands of a revitalised Pakistan has been a huge reality check.

Most of the batsmen looked to have little clue in playing high-class spin.

In that dreadful 72 all out in the second innings, it really did seem as if every ball would produce a wicket.

Interesting to see former captain Michael Vaughan’s withering verdict on the hopelessly-out-of-touch Ian Bell: ‘Warne had him on toast, Murali had him on toast, now Ajmal has him on toast.’

But Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan are looking just as bad.

England are flattered by their current No1 ranking, which was earned with a 4-0 series win over India on our pitches.

But how much is that form worth now that the Indians have just been hammered by a similar margin by a transitional Australia side?

The evidence suggests that England are still ill-equipped to win on the sub-continent.

Meanwhile, getting to the Test match in Abu Dhabi involved a death-defying cab ride across the desert.

The drivers in the United Arab Emirates were clearly all taught at the Evel Knievel School of Motoring.

Cars hurtle along a four-lane highway from Dubai at 80mph, swerving from lane to lane and driving inches away from the car in front. Some of the taxi drivers make Lewis Hamilton look like the local vicar in a Volkswagen Beetle.

It turns out many have come from Pakistan looking for work in the UAE and hardly ever see their wives and children back home.

With alarming death rates on the roads, there were times when I felt my chances of actually getting to the ground were no more than 50-50. But despite England’s tame surrender, it was worth it.

I walked up to the gates of the Sheikh Zayed Stadium without a ticket and asked: ‘How much to get in?’

‘No charge, sir. It is free. Sit wherever you like.’

It was a similar story down the road at the Abu Dhabi Golf Classic, where you could watch Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy for the equivalent of a tenner.

Another free show is the race meeting at Meydan, where they stage the Dubai World Cup.

The floodlit card staged at Meydan every Thursday night is spectacular, with top jockeys like Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore flying in and lucrative prize money for even handicaps.

But this being the UAE, there is no on-course betting and don’t even think of kissing your wife or girlfriend in public .

A sporting trip to remember, so long as your nerves can stand the cab rides.