Skipper Alastair Cook admits England have areas to improve on before they can contemplate assuming the status of the world’s No1 Test side after the hosts slumped to a 10-wicket hammering against Pakistan at the Kia Oval.
Consecutive half-century stands failed to prevent England being dismissed for 253, leaving the tourists with the formality of knocking off the 40 runs needed for victory, ensuring the Investec Test series ended 2-2.
Had England beaten Pakistan and results from India’s tour of the Caribbean gone their way, Cook’s outfit would have hit the summit of the Test rankings for the first time since 2012.
“At the beginning of this game there was talk about we could be No1,” said Cook. “This four days has shown exactly where we are. We are a good side when we are on it but there are a few areas we need to improve to make that next step.”
High on Cook’s list is a lack of runs from England’s top order, which has often been bailed out by scores from lower-ranked batsmen. Only the captain himself and Joe Root scored centuries in this series.
“Consistently over this summer we have not scored enough runs at the top of the order, and the lower order have got us out of trouble some of the time,” added Cook.
“It’s great we have strength in depth but for the majority of the time they should be putting the icing on the cake and not making the cake.
“It’s frustrating for us as a side and is a big area we have got to keep working on as a group because for us to take the next step forward consistent top order runs are vital.”
Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow provided England’s main resistance before falling to Wahab Riaz for 81, while Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah finished with figures of 5-71. Opener Azhar Ali, meanwhile, sealed victory with a six.
Defeat also prevented England from concurrently holding all nine trophies competed for by Test-playing nations for the first time.