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Cook points to batting failures as Pakistan crush England

By David Clough

Alastair Cook admits England have still failed to address urgent issues which must be solved if they are to return to number one in the Test rankings.

England fell short in two objectives when they lost by 10 wickets to Pakistan at The Oval - one identified at the start of the year and a second which presented itself just last week.

Cook's team had an opportunity to hold all nine bi-lateral Test trophies and go top of the International Cricket Council table if they could win or draw the final match of the Investec series.

Instead, they were soundly beaten inside four days - and it was not hard to spot the weaknesses which cost them.

The ongoing struggles of a clutch of callow batsmen has often been masked by runs from Cook, his deputy Joe Root or Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali further down the order.

But the captain spells out that big runs in sixth and seventh-wicket stands should be merely the "icing on the cake", not a necessity.

They also dropped 15 catches in the four-Test series - some, such as the tough one put down by James Anderson in the first innings here, proving very costly.

James Vince, meanwhile, could contribute only a single in his two innings - concluding an unconvincing maiden Test summer of 212 runs at an average under 20.

"Consistently, we haven't scored enough runs at the top of the order," Cook said.

"It's great we've got strength in depth. But the majority of the time they should be putting the icing on the cake, not making the cake.

"It is frustrating. It's a big area we've got to keep working on - and obviously, for us to take that next step, top-order first-innings runs are vital."

The victory to square the series was secured on Pakistan's national Independence Day.

And captain Misbah-ul-Haq said: "It was special. After being 2-1 down, losing the second Test badly and losing the third."

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