Top-order batting a concern for Cook

The Pakistan team walk around the ground after winning the match on day four of the fourth Test at The Oval
The Pakistan team walk around the ground after winning the match on day four of the fourth Test at The Oval

England captain Alastair Cook said a lack of top-order runs and sloppy catching cost his side the chance of a series win against Pakistan.

Cook’s side came into the fourth and final match of the Test series 2-1 ahead but were roundly beaten at The Oval, with the tourists wrapping up a 10-wicket victory on the fourth evening.

Had England avoided defeat they would have held the distinction of beating every other Test playing nation in the last bilateral series, but that is a statistic that would have papered over some basic issues in the side.

Most worryingly Alex Hales, James Vince and Gary Ballance have all looked less than secure in the top five, often being bailed out by a prolific lower middle-order.

“We’ve given everyone a pretty fair go. For a batter, our currency is runs - and as a top order, we haven’t consistently been doing it,” Cook said.

“We played at a disappointing level – we’ve drawn a series so it’s not the end of the world, but we had the opportunity to beat Pakistan and it’s frustrating. We weren’t good enough in all three areas.

“The catching is a concern – when we’ve won games we’ve caught our catches, when we’ve lost we’ve dropped our catches. We’ve definitely dropped in standard this series.

“We’re still the same side who beat Australia, won away in South Africa so it’s not all doom and gloom, but we’re a work in progress.”