Paul Collingwood praises England's application after drab drubbing | Vic Marks

England were impressively ruthless but the pitiful crowd and lack of atmosphere offered a telling verdict on a protracted schedule

Tim Bresnan, man of one of the drabbest international matches of the century, summed it all up, albeit unwittingly. He was asked, mischievously, why he had not tweeted much recently – given the pitfalls demonstrated by Kevin Pietersen and Dimitri Mascarenhas. "Nothing interesting has happened really," said Bresnan.

Nothing much interesting happened in Cardiff last night and there were not many people to watch the lack of action. Afterwards Paul Collingwood duly acknowledged "the special achievement" of seven consecutive wins, matched only by South Africa and Pakistan, and praised his bowlers: "They fit so well together; the fact that we have Jimmy Anderson on the bench shows how well they are bowling".

He was most animated, though, when asked about the crowd at the Swalec Stadium – about 5,500 – and whether England play too much international cricket. "I've been saying that for 10 years," he said with a shrug of the shoulders. "We had to create our own atmosphere out there." And they succeeded. It was a highly professional England performance, no matter that Pakistan's batting was as limp as an old stick of celery.

Shahid Afridi, in his second language, put it differently but succinctly when asked to explain his side's batting: "It was very bad, inexperienced and immature. I know morale is down, but if we can find one victory it will be high again. I will not be letting the team down, not in the one‑dayers." So we assume no sudden resignation as was the case after the Lord's Test against Australia. He explained how he had made his plans for the one day-matches with Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif in his team but "everything has changed".

Stuart Broad set the pattern with his aggressive short-pitched bowling. Bresnan followed suit. Michael Yardy was allowed to do his Derek Underwood impressions and Graeme Swann, although driven for two sixes, soon hoodwinked Umar Akmal with a beautifully disguised slower ball. Otherwise there was nothing to lift the spirits.

The crowd huddled near the floodlights as much for warmth as light. Floodlit cricket in England in September requires a strong constitution and a high quality anorak. It also requires a fair amount of money. The cheapest ticket at Cardiff was £30; some cost £55. Perhaps that might seem value for money once in a week but not twice. It was a pitiful turn-out for an international match. It seems the punters have just had enough. There were better things to watch: a football match, perhaps; table football in a warm pub.

It may be just as bad at Lord's next week when what was once a grand finale to the season comes to town. The one-day final between the counties was once quite an occasion. It is now a 40-over affair and this time it is debatable whether Lord's will attract a crowd of five figures. This year the final, even though it takes place on a Saturday, will be played under floodlights for the first time. For this the England and Wales Cricket Board owes the diehard county supporter an apology. If Yorkshire and Somerset are the finalists there will be no trains back home. The game finishes too late. Many supporters will decide that it is not worth the effort.

It is almost impossible to understand why the ECB has taken this decision unless it has something to do with the fact that Sky might like the idea of a floodlit final. But a floodlit match without any spectators? It's not much fun as we discovered in Cardiff last night.

Contributor

Vic Marks at Swalec Stadium

The GuardianTramp

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