Cricket / Third Test: Faisalabad fires Pakistani ire: Henry Blofeld traces the roots of a long-running dispute

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The Independent Online
CHICKENS have always had a nasty habit of coming home to roost. I wonder if any of those who orchestrated and supported events from the England viewpoint in Faisalabad in 1987-88, when Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana had their celebrated run-in, now feel it might have been better if they had reacted differently.

There can surely be little doubt that the Pakistanis came here this time expecting what they consider to be harsh treatment - their attitude has been clear - just as England were all too eagerly on the lookout for perceived injustice in 1987-88.

Aqib Javed and Javed Miandad would not have carried their treatment of Roy Palmer to such extremes if they had not felt that they had a point to make. Of course, their behaviour was wholly unacceptable but in the blatantly aggressive world in which we live, and considering the recent history of series between these two sides, it was understandable.

It has been said that Shakoor Rana was the inevitable stool pigeon after Pakistan's manager Haseeb Ahsan had been shown the door at Lord's when in 1987 he protested at the presence of David Constant on the panel of Test umpires, Constant and the Pakistanis having been at loggerheads here in 1982.

To say that two, let alone three wrongs make a right is a rotten philosophy. Look where it has got us and who is to say where it will all end - if ever it does. The Pakistanis will say that neutral umpires are the answer. They will claim that neutral incompetence is infinitely better than homegrown incompetence for it will not bring with it accusations of prejudice. But the Pakistanis still have to show how the considerable cost of neutral umpires can be covered, especially in the midst of recession.

In Pakistan, Gatting's outburst and his side's hostility to the umpiring was wholeheartedly supported by the management of Peter Lush and Micky Stewart. Later, Raman Subba Row, the chairman of the TCCB, flew in and also strongly took the side of the England players. On his return home he authorised the payment of an extra pounds 1,000 to each member of the party.

At the time the wisdom of this seemed doubtful, to say the least. It was the former Pakistan captain, Asif Iqbal, who put it into sharp perspective talking on television yesterday. 'The one thing I do know,' he said to Tony Lewis, 'is that the Pakistanis won't be given pounds 1,000 each when they return home'.

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