Cricket: Javed savours the fruit of his labours: Pakistan, typified by their captain, have excelled at almost every aspect of cricket in this summer's series, writes Scyld Berry

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The Independent Online
IF JAVED MIANDAD and Imran Khan were the same person, 'Imrandad' would now be saluted as one of the great captains. For between them they have done for Pakistan what Sir Frank Worrell and Clive Lloyd did for the West Indies: with Imran starting the process and Miandad completing it, they have fulfilled the cricket of a nation.

Before Miandad and Imran came together to alternate the captaincy over the last decade, Pakistan had won 22 Test matches and lost 30. Under these two, they have won 27 Tests and lost 14. Only in the West Indies have Pakistan met their match in Test cricket, while in one-day cricket they hold the World Cup.

Miandad's own comments on what he has engineered would be valuable, but he has been bitten too many times by the press here. 'I am not willing to say anything,' he declared on Friday. 'Whatever I say, it always becomes political.' And when you have been headlined 'Cricket's Colonel Gaddafi', and written about in terms to make the Antichrist blush, disinclination to give interviews is understandable.

Even in discussing his origins, the British press has got Miandad wrong. The popularised myth is that he is a street-kid from Karachi, a thrusting brat from the slums who has developed all the boorishness of the nouveau riche. This fitted the modus operandi of his abrasive years, when he found no nostril inaccessible, of teammate or opponent. Half the Pakistan team revolted when Miandad became captain and refused to play under him following that tour of Australia when he shaped up for the most infamous stroke of all time, not at a ball, but at Dennis Lillee's head.

In fact, Miandad's father was an official in charge of sport in one of the tiny Muslim principalities or fiefdoms which were scattered around the Kathiawar Peninsula in western India. When the family moved to Karachi in the bedlam of partition, they lost most of their possessions. What Miandad used to exhibit were the characteristics of the immigrant intent on making good in a new country, and without wasting time on niceties. Now he has everything: marriage into the Saigal family, one of those 20 families said to rule Pakistan's politics and economy; an old Raj house up a long drive in Lahore; sons at Aitchison College, the country's most pukkah school.

Nothing can excuse some of the things Miandad has perpetrated - most notably, in English eyes, his inflammatory part in the Faisalabad Affair - but they were the work of a different personality, before he became secure enough to be his true self. If it is by their fruits that we shall know them - this summer's fruits - Pakistan's captain should be recognised for having been exceptional in every aspect of the game, except on that Monday evening at Old Trafford when the old confrontationist resurfaced, and he failed to work with Roy Palmer in interpreting the law, and was then histrionically rude.

At Headingley, though, Miandad made considerable recompense by being patient beyond the call of duty. There was a smell during the fourth Test which I had never detected before in a Test in England. There was something in addition to the inevitable, unconscious, bias which umpires have towards home teams in general and home captains in particular. Tight-lipped and highly formal, the umpiring at Headingley generated the impression that, come what may, judgements were not going to be delivered in Pakistan's favour until England were safely established in both their innings.

In a Test match, the best opening batsmen are selected, the best spinners and so on. It was a culpable mistake on the part of the TCCB to appoint eight umpires for the series against Pakistan, the most in a home series since 1899. In my observation there are not eight umpires in the world competent to umpire a Test match. To select less than the very best for such a combustible series may have been intended as 'spreading it around' but amounted, in effect, to a dereliction of duty.

Our Press's conventional epithet for Pakistani cricketers is 'volatile'. They have also been accused of individualism, and they have been guilty of it, too, perhaps because they had no strong captain between their first, A H Kardar, and 'Imrandad'. This summer the tourists have worked with the highest degree of common purpose in turning round the advantage which England gained in the first one-dayers, until they administered one of the most startling England defeats of recent times in only 278.1 overs at The Oval.

The tourists under Miandad have played in an un-English way. At times they have shocked English cricket, and its lingering middle- class gentility, with their unashamed aggression. But 'our boys' have not been entirely wilting flowers: when Waqar Younis gave Robin Smith one of his verbal barrages, Smith responded so vehemently in kind that Waqar blenched as he walked back to his mark.

It has been un-English of the tourists to win eight of 11 county games, and to go money-grubbing for that pounds 50,000 jackpot. Even more un-English was their enthusiasm. On the Saturday of The Oval Test, Mushtaq Ahmed bowled before tea, and he bowled straight after tea, yet he spent his tea interval bowling on the out-field. Never have I seen an England player practise in his free time when actively engaged in a game.

Mushtaq was not alone in blossoming so rapidly that he became as effective as any leg-spinner in a series in England since the Second World War, being a wicket-taker (15 at 31) and a stock bowler who, by conceding 2.6 an over, allowed Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to rest. Before this summer Mushtaq, Aamir, Inzamam, Moin, Rashid and the quietly achieving Asif Mujtaba had played less than a dozen Tests between them. It says everything of their captain that only Inzamam played like a novice, and his time could well have come at The Oval, while no new England player became established.

If Miandad missed a trick it was at Headingley, in picking Inzamam and the unfit Aqib ahead of the experienced Shoaib and the medium- pacer Naved Anjum. Pakistan there were technically the worse batting team, as so many of their players pushed their bats ahead of their front pad. For this reason, England's victory was not unfair.

Otherwise, the Pakistanis were invigorating in their 2-1 victory. Their excesses were, I think, not the result of any malice on the part of their captain, but youthful excitement overflowing in their players, and a lack of discipline in their game at home. They gave us cricket that was not safety first, and fearful of failure, but purely positive.

Above all, Waqar and Wasim have started a revolution. They have reversed the whole trend of cricket since the war, since Bodyline, in fact, by making the batsman's stumps and not his body the focus of the game again.

(Photograph omitted)

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