How balance of power shifted to Pakistan in troubled history

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The Independent Online

Over the years, when Pakistan have visited these shores there has invariably been something other than virtuoso performances from the players to take cricket fans' eyes off the ball.

The fact that the Pakistanis have not lost a series here since 1982 tells its own tale of misery for the home team. And if you exclude their last visit here in 2001, when they were held to 1-1 draw in a two-match rubber, they are on a serious roll, having lost just one Test, in 1992, since then.

However, the series between these two countries has been dogged with controversy. In the summer of 1987, when Imran Khan led them to their first series victory on English soil, the tourists had objected to the umpires David Constant and Ken Palmer being on the Test panel.

The mood was further aggravated by accusations of cheating against certain Pakistan players. During the third Test at Headingley only quick action by Palmer ensured Ian Botham and Salim Yousuf did not come to blows after the wicketkeeper had retrieved the ball from the ground and appealed for a catch.

Five years later, it was all happening again. This time Ken Palmer's younger brother, Roy, was embroiled in an unsavoury incident when he warned the fast bowler Aqib Javed about intimidatory tactics aimed at the tail-ender Devon Malcolm. The bowler reacted petulantly, but relations between the two men was exacerbated when Palmer went to give Aquib his sweater back at the end of the over and the bowler erroneously assumed Palmer had flung it at him.

Then, in the fourth Test, Ken Palmer ruled that Graham Gooch had not been run out, when replays showed the England batsman was a yard or more short of his ground.

It all came to a head at the end of a humiliating series which had seen England suffering a clutch of dramatic collapses - six wickets lost for 42 runs and then 38 at Lord's, the last eight falling for 28 runs at Headingley and the final five tumbling for just 25 runs at The Oval - when the England batsman Allan Lamb accused the Pakistanis in a tabloid newspaper of ball tampering.

Lamb was heavily fined and these days what has become known as reverse swing is a tactic which helped England lift the Ashes. Back in the dark days of the late 20th century, it was a worrying phenomenon that a ball 60- or 70-overs-old should behave as it did in the hands of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, arguably the most devastating pace bowling pair to invade these shores since Lillee and Thompson.

There have been numerous historic moments during the 11 series between these two countries since the inaugural rubber in 1954, which Pakistan, against all expectation, drew 1-1, although they had to wait a further 28 years before their next win in England.

The Pakistanis have had their share of landmarks, though. The present tour manager, Zaheer Abbas, scored 274, the first double hundred by a Pakistani against England, in 1971 and followed that up with 240 in the 1974 series.

Javed Miandad managed a meaty 260 when Pakistan piled up 708, their highest Test total to date and the highest in post-war England, on that troubled 1987 tour, while Imran Khan and Wasim Akram both used tours over here to take their 300th Test wicket. Imran was the first Pakistan bowler to achieve the feat, at Headingley in 1987, Wasim the second Pakistani to do so, nine years later.

Less gloriously, the series is also marked by England's Chris Tavaré scoring the second slowest 50 in all first-class cricket in the second Test in 1982.

How England lost their grip

1954 Drawn 1-1 (four-match series)

1962 England win 4-0 (five-match series)

1967 England win 2-0 (three-match series)

1971 England win 1-0 (three-match series)

1974 Drawn 0-0 (three-match series)

1978 England win 2-0 (three-match series)

1982 England win 2-1 (three-match series)

1987 Pakistan win 1-0 (five-match series)

1992 Pakistan win 2-1 (five-match series)

1996 Pakistan win 2-0 (three-match series)

2001 Drawn 1-1 (two-match series)


Pakistan Test wins: 8

England Test wins: 14

Draws: 17

Pakistan series wins: 3

England series wins: 5

Draws: 3