Brydon Coverdale and Nagraj Gollapudi on Pakistan and Australia in England 2010 July 5, 2010

The signs are good for Pakistan's home from home

It's sad that Pakistan won't be hosting any international teams at home for the foreseeable future

Not quite the neutral game at Edgbaston Not quite the neutral game at Edgbaston © Getty Images
It's sad that Pakistan won't be hosting any international teams at home for the foreseeable future. But if Monday's Twenty20 in Birmingham is any indication, they could do worse than making England a de facto base in the next couple of years.

The Edgbaston ground wasn't quite full - substantial rebuilding works played a part in that - but of the 12,000 or so fans it's fair to say 80-90% were supporting Pakistan. Birmingham has one of the biggest Pakistani populations in the UK - indeed the previous lord mayor of the city, Abdul Rashid, was originally from Pakistan - and they can expect similar support when they hit Leeds for the second Test.

Before the game, the noise of the air-horns all around the ground was deafening; perhaps the only thing louder was the roar of approval each time Umar Akmal or Shahid Afridi jogged to the boundary to field in the deep later in the day. When David Hussey was fielding on the rope earlier, he had to shrug off a few heckles.

The crowd rose as one for every Pakistan run early in the innings, be it a boundary or a single tickled to fine leg. One portly, balding gentleman who might have been in his fifties was waving a Pakistan flag while sprinting up and down his row with the sort of energy you might expect from his son or grandson.

The yellow shirts of a small group of Australian fans sitting a few rows in front of him were conspicuous in what was otherwise a sea of green. Even Waqar Younis said after the win that he hadn't expected anything close to that amount of support.

It will never be home for the Pakistan players, but over the coming months England could prove to be the next best thing.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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