While I strongly fancy England to defeat Pakistan in the upcoming four-match Test series, the first game at Trent Bridge may well prove crucial to the outcome.
If England win it I can see them going on to a 3-0 success, but if for some reason they slip up Pakistan have already shown they have the bowling attack in particular to cause us problems.
We will need to impose ourselves on the series from the start. As a unit, the tourists have long shown a weakness when put under pressure. Only last winter in Australia, Pakistan showed they have not lost the tendency to implode when the going gets tough.
At times there was more in-fighting in their camp than aggression against the opposition. They are a very good side when things are going their way. But I believe England are up there with the best Test teams in the world at the moment and we are capable of wearing them down quite quickly.
We will need to bat well because Pakistan have a quality opening bowling attack and a top class leg-spinner in Danish Kaneria with vast experience of English conditions through playing county cricket.
"Graeme Swann’s development over the last couple of years has been huge for us. He is not only tying up an end with his off-spin, but also taking wickets regularly to back up our seamers."
In my view Mohammad Asif is the most skilful seamer in world cricket at the moment. He has amazing control and is a real handful to face because he can swing the ball in to you through the air and nip it away off the seam.
Asif is not the quickest, but he bowls like Shaun Pollock did towards the end of his international career. He gets the ball in just the right areas and nibbles it about.
I watched 18-year-old Aamer bowl in Australia during the winter and it looked as though he just had raw pace. But at Lord’s, in the first Test against the same opposition, the young left-armer also showed a cricketing brain beyond his years, pitching the ball up and moving it both ways.
Aamer's probably ten miles an hour quicker than Asif and to be able to get the ball in the right place consistently so early in his career suggests he will go far in the game.
The pitch assisted both bowlers at Lord’s and I am sure that they are delighted the matches against Australia are being played over here, rather than on the wickets back home.
The same won’t apply to Pakistan’s batsmen, however, and I think England have the attack to cause them plenty of problems.
Graeme Swann’s development over the last couple of years has been huge for us. He is not only tying up an end with his off-spin, but also taking wickets regularly to back up our seamers.
I’m sorry Ian Bell must miss the series with the broken foot he suffered at Bristol last weekend. I have always rated him highly and he was in cracking form, having had a chance to reassess his game while out of the England side.
His absence will probably offer a chance for Eoin Morgan to establish himself in our Test line-up and I just hope he goes out with the same positive attitude that has made him such an effective one-day player.
Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott will go into the Tests on the back of big scores in the one-day series against Bangladesh and I believe we have the batting line-up to cope with Pakistan’s talented bowlers.
In fact, I am very happy with where England are at the moment in an Ashes year. We have made immense progress in one-day cricket over the past 12 months and can look forward with confidence to next year’s World Cup. We are already world Twenty20 champions and I like the balance of our one-day side.
There is a lot of method in their performances and clearly a lot of thinking and hard work has gone on behind the scenes.
Marcus Trescothick writes for Test Match Extra, the independent voice of cricket.
First npower Test - England V Pakistan at Trent Bridge
Tickets are still available for England v Pakistan at Trent Bridge from Thursday 29th July
Days 1, 2 and 3 - £35 - £55
Day 4 - £30 - £40
Under 16 Prices
Days 1, 2 and 3 - £14 - £16
Day 4 - £12 - £13
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