Pakistan v Australia, 2010 July 14, 2010

A brushing of elbows, and debutants on the trot

Andy Zaltzman admits Mohammad Aamer is a better bowler than he was at his age, and turns his stern eye to all matters statistical concerning debutants
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2 Ricky Ponting and Mohammad Aamer attempt to break into a Scottish dance routine © AFP

After a painstaking 98-year reassessment study following the botched triangular series experiment of 1912, neutral Test match cricket returned to England yesterday. It was, according to those who were lucky enough to see both Syd Gregory’s Australia play South Africa almost a century ago, and their modern-day baggy-green descendants take on Pakistan, much improved from its previous incarnation.

It was a compelling opening to the series, with everything you could want from a Test match – some good batting, some bad batting, some outstanding swing bowling, a bit of decent legspin, a bit of less decent legspin, a couple of influential umpiring bloopers, a couple of rampantly irritating bouts of going off for bad light, and perhaps the most minor piece of argy bargy in the history of all sport, as Ricky Ponting and Mohammad Aamer lightly brushed elbows.

To the untrained eye, this could easily have signified the beginning of an outbreak of Scottish dancing, but fortunately the umpires were on hand to ensure a full-blown ceilidh did not break out – there is simply no place for it in Test match cricket. Ponting, an inveterate dancer, was understandably irritated, and left the field visibly chuntering his displeasure to the umpire that his trademark Strip The Willow had been cut off in its prime.

Aamer’s opening spell was prodigious. He could have had all of the top three Australian batsmen out lbw, but ended up with none. Katich should have been given out, Ponting could have been given out, and Watson was being given out but escaped because he had the good sense to deflect the ball into his stumps and be out bowled instead (thus depriving Umpire Gould, the first English umpire to stand in a Lord’s Test since umpires were deemed to have become so universally and flagrantly patriotic as to be utterly untrustworthy, of his moment of finger-raising glory).

Katich escaped for no discernible reason – Gould claimed to have heard and/or seen an inside edge, in which case Katich’s bat must have invisible wings stretching a good eight inches beyond the visible wood. The only other conceivable explanation why the umpire did not despatch the self-proclaimed Elvis Presley Of Stepping Across To Cover Off Stump And Deflecting The Ball Into The Leg Side, after his extremely Australian leg interrupted a delivery that was heading towards the middle of the middle of the middle bit of middle stump, was that Gould had been playing with a ouija board before the start of play, and had been told that the ghost of Gubby Allen would pop out from under the Lord’s turf and headbutt the ball away before it hit the wicket. Thus the benefit of the doubt was given to the batsman.

I can, without jealousy or hyperbole, state definitively that Aamer is a better bowler than I was at his age (notwithstanding my then career-best spell of 2 for 35 off four overs of occasionally reachable legspin). His mesmeric opening spell was later supported by a hypnotic burst of platinum-quality trundle by Asif, a masterfully skilful and crafty onslaught of 80mph dobblers that broke both ends of the Katich-Clarke partnership, almost dismissed North three times in three balls, and thus exposed Australia’s untested middle order.

Paine and Smith, in their first Tests, were doomed to failure – not by the excellent bowling nor the helpful conditions nor the pressure of their own expectations, but by the sheer weight of statistical history. This was the first time Australia had picked debutants at both 7 and 8 since their first Test against Sri Lanka in 1982-83, when Roger Woolley and Tom Hogan proudly donned their baggy greens for the first time, and then collectively failed to trouble the scorers. Largely, in fairness, because Australia declared on 514 for 4. This however, merely spared them from inevitable actual failure.

Fourteen times since their first Test in 1876-77, Australia have sent out a brand new 7 and a previously unseen 8 in the same Test, and between them, in their debut innings, they have now scored a not especially grand total of 318 runs in 26 innings at a piddling average of 13.25. The top score of these was Clarence “Nip” Pellew’s immortal, unforgettable, era-defining 36 in the first post-Great-War Ashes Test of 1920-21. (Feel free to use this fact in your next attempted seduction. I cannot guarantee it will lead to success, but it will certainly elicit a reaction of some kind.)

Australia’s coaching staff has clearly not been checking their statistics. If they had, they would surely have split the two debutants, sandwiching them around a more experienced player to divert the unstoppable hand of cricketing inevitability from slapping them both back to the pavilion.

Assuming they bat according to the listed scorecard, Pakistan will also launch two players into their debut Tests back to back in the batting order. Umar Amin and Azhar Ali are listed to bat 3 and 4, making this already historic match even more historic – it is the first time Pakistan have had their numbers 3 and 4 making their debuts together since the entire Pakistan team made their Pakistan debuts in Pakistan’s debut Test against India, in Delhi in 1952-53. So this is the first time they have chosen to play a Test with an uncapped 3 and 4.

In that game in 1952-53, Israr Ali and Imtiaz Ahmed scored 1 and 0 respectively in the first innings, so Umar and Azhar will be desperately hoping to set a new national record for most productive joint debuts by a 3 and 4.

It is a risky, and almost unique, selection. They may develop into one of the all-time great 3-4 combinations, but, currently, their joint total of 0 career Test runs and 0 lifetime Test centuries, cannot match up to Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf’s Test total 12,600 runs and 40 centuries. But the unusualness of Pakistan’s selection is revealed by the fact that this will be only the 27th time in the entire history of the human race that a Test team has had debutants at 3 and 4. Here is proof, courtesy of the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Statsguru.

Bear in mind that, of the previous 26 such occasions:

Ten were in a team’s first ever Test match, when debuts are largely unavoidable; seven more were whilst Queen Victoria was still alive; one was in 1907, the year Picasso painted Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon, and ace Russian science whizz Ivan Pavlov was messing around teasing dogs with bells, so the world was understandably a little confused; four more occurred whilst Hitler was still largely viewed by the world as a jaunty curiosity; and two only happened due to the use of a night-watchman.

That leaves only two other Tests since the Second World War in which numbers 3 and 4 have debuted together. The first was when England sent a shadow team to India in 1951-52, and the second when Sri Lanka, in just their sixth Test match, against New Zealand in 1982-83, decided to start all over again and throw seven debutants into the Test arena at once.

(Incidentally, a brand new opening partnership is almost as rare – 28 occurrences, the most recent being last year, when a commercial dispute led to West Indies having to ask if anyone in the crowd fancied a game against Bangladesh.)

This shows how reluctant teams have traditionally been to throw two completely unproven players into the top order together. But in mitigation, not many Test countries have been piecing a team together after speculatively banning then unbanning a large wodge of key players, and not many Test teams have had Shahid Afridi as captain. It sounds crazy, but it might just work. Unless the ball keeps swinging, in which case, it probably won’t. It all adds to the ceaseless fascination that is Pakistan cricket, and it is a delight to see them play just their tenth Test on these shores in the last 18 years.

I will be back shortly with some thoughts and stats on Murali, and if you have any questions for the next Confectionery Stall Q&A, please leave them in the comments section below.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • waterbuffalo on July 24, 2010, 11:02 GMT

    We finally did it, Mr. Zaltzman, Pakistan has beaten Australia for the first time since tasmania 95, 15 years , this I put on par with England beating Argentina after 16 years, paul scholes, man of the match. people who say that it is just a game know nothing, they do not know how much pain we suffered, they do not know the depth of emotion, beating the arrogant aussies has always been my number one dream, and I am glad England has done it twice, and now a very , very young pakistani side has done it, I mean, imagine, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali, Aamer, and the captain is a rookie, Salman Butt.

  • Tushar on July 19, 2010, 15:28 GMT

    I would pay to read you Mr Zaltzman. You are just awesome. Why dont you please write proper Match reports in your own unique style?

  • Moin on July 18, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    Nice article. Here is a stat for u. Lets see if u can dig more. Despite saying that he isnt a test player, shahid afridi's average as a test opener is higher than that of Aamer Sohail!

  • american-pak on July 16, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    i just want to add:

    cricinfo needs to give this guy a proper column.

    bloody brilliant writing. so brilliant its got an american using the word bloody.

  • arsal on July 15, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    this was not a way to express ur angriness.

  • ahmad ashraf on July 15, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    well well ... only the winner for me are the umpires ;) they won the first innings if it could have been 3 out by AAmir only , very early this would have been very much Pakistans test....;)

  • samit ghosh on July 15, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    who are you and where have you been all my life? A cricket freak with a keen nose for stats ... and that's not what you do for a living - you are a comedian? wow .. really impressed - best piece of cricket writing ever. This is my first comment on www on anything.

  • Shahzad Shaikh on July 15, 2010, 1:35 GMT

    I am getting this strong feeling that Pakistan will bounce back in the second innings and eventually will win this match, Inshallah.

    They just need to play their natural game.

    Shahzad Shaikh United Kingdom Manchester

  • Sumair Arif from Dubai on July 15, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    Interesting! i like the way you wrote! very interesting it show how much you love cricket. Ricky should be muture enough to deal with those kind of incident. Amir just enter in international and cricket......

  • Nathan on July 15, 2010, 0:06 GMT

    Hilarious! Fantastic mix of humor and factual analysis as usual.

    Andy is SOO far ahead of most of the rest of the of cricinfo's writers, it's scary.

  • waterbuffalo on July 24, 2010, 11:02 GMT

    We finally did it, Mr. Zaltzman, Pakistan has beaten Australia for the first time since tasmania 95, 15 years , this I put on par with England beating Argentina after 16 years, paul scholes, man of the match. people who say that it is just a game know nothing, they do not know how much pain we suffered, they do not know the depth of emotion, beating the arrogant aussies has always been my number one dream, and I am glad England has done it twice, and now a very , very young pakistani side has done it, I mean, imagine, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali, Aamer, and the captain is a rookie, Salman Butt.

  • Tushar on July 19, 2010, 15:28 GMT

    I would pay to read you Mr Zaltzman. You are just awesome. Why dont you please write proper Match reports in your own unique style?

  • Moin on July 18, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    Nice article. Here is a stat for u. Lets see if u can dig more. Despite saying that he isnt a test player, shahid afridi's average as a test opener is higher than that of Aamer Sohail!

  • american-pak on July 16, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    i just want to add:

    cricinfo needs to give this guy a proper column.

    bloody brilliant writing. so brilliant its got an american using the word bloody.

  • arsal on July 15, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    this was not a way to express ur angriness.

  • ahmad ashraf on July 15, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    well well ... only the winner for me are the umpires ;) they won the first innings if it could have been 3 out by AAmir only , very early this would have been very much Pakistans test....;)

  • samit ghosh on July 15, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    who are you and where have you been all my life? A cricket freak with a keen nose for stats ... and that's not what you do for a living - you are a comedian? wow .. really impressed - best piece of cricket writing ever. This is my first comment on www on anything.

  • Shahzad Shaikh on July 15, 2010, 1:35 GMT

    I am getting this strong feeling that Pakistan will bounce back in the second innings and eventually will win this match, Inshallah.

    They just need to play their natural game.

    Shahzad Shaikh United Kingdom Manchester

  • Sumair Arif from Dubai on July 15, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    Interesting! i like the way you wrote! very interesting it show how much you love cricket. Ricky should be muture enough to deal with those kind of incident. Amir just enter in international and cricket......

  • Nathan on July 15, 2010, 0:06 GMT

    Hilarious! Fantastic mix of humor and factual analysis as usual.

    Andy is SOO far ahead of most of the rest of the of cricinfo's writers, it's scary.

  • mike scott-ram on July 14, 2010, 22:57 GMT

    Completely mad,more than ever!! i suspect this is the first Test team ever to have had Shahid Afridi as captain-pure speculation, mind.

  • Bis on July 14, 2010, 21:32 GMT

    "hypnotic burst of platinum-quality trundle by Asif, a masterfully skilful and crafty onslaught of 80mph dobblers" - that is the most hilarious (because largely true!) description of Asif's bowling I have ever read - bravo!

  • Andrew Scott on July 14, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    Hilarious article! RE.

  • Mark Foster on July 14, 2010, 21:07 GMT

    Hilarious - especially about Ponting and strip the willow. Ponting got a duck today! Richard.

  • Noman "Pugnate" Ansari on July 14, 2010, 21:01 GMT

    "It sounds crazy, but it might just work. Unless the ball keeps swinging, in which case, it probably won’t. "

    I was drinking something (I won't say what) when I read this piece of hilarity, and it lead to something very unfortunate for my keyboard (I won't say what).

    It seems that Andy Zaltzman is the only writer capable of doing justice to "page 2". Sad to say that the other writers just fall flat with their attempts at humor.

  • Ismail Husayne on July 14, 2010, 20:25 GMT

    I can see the rare humor in your articles. The scary part is that what you wrote is all so true. It was just a great read though. Looking forward to other bloge from you.

  • Sidrah on July 14, 2010, 19:32 GMT

    I think someone should tell Ponting to stop RUNNING into bowlers on his way back to the pavillion (Aamir on first innings and now Asif). The guy clearly is full of himself and can't bare to see himself get out against the unpredicted Pakistanis. If the umpires had a word with Aamir for accidentally colliding into two aussie batsmen in the series so far, then I think they should do the same to Ponting for having two in two.

  • Ronald on July 14, 2010, 19:02 GMT

    Andy, I love you blah blah. Seriously speaking, though, as an Englishman in his thirties who has listened to every broadcast of Test Match Special since he was three, if you ever give up writing this blog ( - all right; writing about cricket) then I will hunt you down and kill you with a jockstrap. My question is this ( - by the way, I'm actually English): Who is more tedious: Jonathon Trott, or Shappi Khorsandi? [I don't suppose you'll be dead keen on answering that one online... - How's about "Is Mohammed Asif actually God?"]

  • Ramesh Shotham on July 14, 2010, 18:50 GMT

    While Aamer has been pulled up by Chirs Broad for running into a batsman he had just dismissed, Ponting who reacted rather churlishly by using his elbow against the bowler, gets away without a warning!

  • Nishath on July 14, 2010, 18:47 GMT

    That was Hilarious! keep em coming! :)

  • Umair on July 14, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    Yasir Hameed scored a fluent fifty in the warmup game and has over a thousand Test runs. How could they pick Azhar Ali over him?

  • Fraz on July 14, 2010, 18:13 GMT

    This is a stroke of genius.

  • anurag bhide on July 14, 2010, 18:10 GMT

    yes, this definitely was 1 of ur gr8est blogs ever.

    1 question: can u dig out a debutant pair(s) in which one of the 2 was a resounding success in the debut match but an utter failure over his career and the other failed miserably on debut but had a long and glorious career.

    i'm sure u can cook up sumthing very interesting along these lines...

  • DravidistheBest on July 14, 2010, 17:01 GMT

    Great article Sir, as always, you are by and far the best writer on cricinfo......but please write more frequently, page 2 is nothing without you.

  • Gorky Shaw on July 14, 2010, 16:41 GMT

    Always love u Andy. I was reading through with a smile on my face when this one just killed, "...and then collectively failed to trouble the scorers. Largely, in fairness, because Australia declared on 514 for 4...". That was awesomeness.

  • talib hussain on July 14, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    Ricky ponting is worst sports sporting being on the planet. The incedent between Aamir and Clark was accidental and both acknowledged this instantly however Ricky ponting was delibrate in what he did and to elloborate with trhe umpire and then for Chris Broad to then have a word with Aamir who was clearly trying to get out the way of Ponting will only play into the hands of Ponting whats the odds Aamir will be as good in the second innings since he has had his wings clipped. Chris Broad had the benefit of TV replays and should have been more respnsible.

  • kamal on July 14, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    GUYS ,,,,, umpires will make sure first test match win by Australia... just wait and see. there no dought.. specialy english one he is not suitable for his job...good luck for your poor job..

  • AMer on July 14, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    I didn't watch it , but from what I see in the pic above , looks like Ponting is the one trying/ leaning /ready to brush elbow ...

  • CIH on July 14, 2010, 14:31 GMT

    Hey Andy great piece as usual. In the Murali stats please do compare his record with Warne's and if possible Warne's record minus his English 'conquests'.

  • Ghost of The Craigslist Killer on July 14, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    LOL @ the Scottish dance routine. As for Ponting, I wish he'd grow up.

    @ Runner, Clarke actually handled the situation with great gravitas, unlike George Bush's butt-double incidentally named Ponting. How about you stop whining?

    Also, does Andy Zaltzman really have male pattern baldness or is he the reincarnation of Albert Einstein? In either case, I suggest Bosley for men.

  • Paul on July 14, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    "After a painstaking 98-year reassessment study following the botched triangular series experiment of 1912, neutral Test match cricket returned to England yesterday."

    Laughing out loud from the very first sentence and it kept up all the way to the end. Andy, you are a genius.

  • Rajen Mehta on July 14, 2010, 13:31 GMT

    Ponting leaned over and stuck his elbow out to brush Aamer. Of course there will no action taken against Ponting. Gautam Gambhir stuck his shoulder out to brush Katich and was suspended for two games. Aren't we all glad that Howard did not become ICC boss, otherwise in this case Aamer would have been suspended for not giving Ponting enough elbow room.

  • Raheem Khan on July 14, 2010, 13:09 GMT

    Mr. Zaltzman

    I have the singular pleasure of confessing that this was my first foray into the fiendish and wickedly funny world that is know as "The Confectionery Stall".... I am actually in the office and just logged onto Cricinfo to catch up on the weird ways of our batting side when I saw the link to your own little vaudevillian theater...

    I truly had a torrid time trying to keep my laughter down to a bare minimum as some of my colleagues were in the middle of a brainstorming session trying to solve the ultimate conundrum that is loved by all and understood by none and known to us as "Woman"......

    I must tell you that in me you have gotten yourself a new FAN FOR LIFE.... Keep up the merry takes on the crazy ways of so called "Gentleman's Game"...

    Wishing you the best....

    Adios Amigo

  • Dolly's 158 on July 14, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    What an article! Please write more!! LEGENDARY stuff. Do you do stand up comedy???? On a separate note any Pakistan fans out there who remember an Pak following experience more painful than the Sydney 2nd test loss in Dec/Jan? I felt sick nauseous and on the verge of saying goodbye for good to cricket. I've since recovered, thankfully.

  • john on July 14, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    I am curious why the fielding side can not challenge the umpires decision for not giving LBW as we saw when Pakistan visited Auatralia last year. Is that system not working here?

    A truly fine article to read and laugh. Very informative as well. Afridi's team selection is not the best and Pak attitude of playing new players may cost him the game.

    Amer should get some tough words from Captain and coach. Yunus Khan was right in this matter when he cautioned him in Srilanka.

    Ist test result : Australia will win by 100 runs.

  • mikej on July 14, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    I agree with runner. It looks like a Pakistan bowler may take liberty and just run into whichever Australian batsmen they please knowing that some smart journo will make fun of it and excuse it as teenage energy.

    Well done Clark......

  • Manihammad on July 14, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    good work andy..you beat everyone this site to give us these stats..i loved the part where you go into detail of those rare instances :D

  • Rahul J on July 14, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    andy as usual.... funny. its getting very predictable :)

  • Mudassar Rana on July 14, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    a brilliant article. i thought the umpiring yesterday left a lot to be desired but my main gripe is why chris broad that paragon of virtue had to talk to aamer yesterday when it is clear that the 2nd highest run scorer in tests elbows the bowler.

    Can u imagine if these were pakistani umpires and that was inzamam or miandad !!!

  • Gavin on July 14, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    Can't let a good article end with such a sour comment by Runner. Ponting has very rarely done the right thing so why give him the benefit of the doubt now - sorry I forgot you are an aussie supporter.

  • Adeel on July 14, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    I dont think that a small thing like bumping into each other be given such importance to make a big thing out of it.

  • Adeel on July 14, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Very interesting read and as said earlier by one reader that this is such a good way to entertain cricket lovers when test matches are struggling to stay in the market. Umpiring has been average, thankfully its happening in the UK rather than in Pakistan otherwise it would've been a big fuss and talk of the media.

    I believe Pakistan has still given away 50 extra runs due to what ever reasons and owing to their new batting line up, they better watch out while chasing.

    After a long time I saw a brave captain backing up his bowlers with 4-5 slips in place and not to miss the gully. Afridi is a fast learner and can do even better if supported by the officials sitting outside.

    I wonder about the middle order selection though. I have seen Fawad Alam sitting on the bench since years and I think thats his fate and he will retire while sitting outside. Such a waste of absolute talent and a team player that can raise the game even with his enthusiasm, sharp fielding and support.

  • JULIAN REIFER on July 14, 2010, 12:07 GMT

    I have looked at that incident 4 times, and though the bowler was running close to ponting, it was he ponting who pushed out his elbow first.

  • JULIAN REIFER on July 14, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    I have looked at that incident 4 times, and though the bowler was running close to ponting, it was he ponting who pushed out his elbow first.

  • roofi on July 14, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    A masterpiece ! such jugglery of words , such subtle humour , i seriously wonder where was i looking all these years and not to have found you as an epic literary comic spawner . Bravo , you rock ......I m hooked for ever .

  • CricketPissek (Sinhalese for Cricket Crazy) on July 14, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    Andy Z never disappoints. Hilarious article. I'm surprised there weren't more debutant nos. 3 & 4 bats during the Packer era. I think the 82/83 Lankan team was new because a set got life bans for their rebel South African Tour. ================================= QUESTION for next week: If Murali's batting was like his bowling, and his bowling as his batting, which cricketer would he be most comparable to?

  • Melvin on July 14, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    oh man really good!!!!!! loved the "West Indies having to ask if anyone in the crowd fancied a game against Bangladesh" part.

  • Khan, Wajid M on July 14, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Thanks Andy for a very nice article. You need not try too hard to make it saucy :)

    You are right there :-P Umar Amin and Azhar Ali are listed to bat 3 and 4, making this already historic match even more historic – it is the first time Pakistan have had their numbers 3 and 4 making their debuts together.

    It is a risky, and almost unique, selection (keep in mind they have not been put in since it was risky; they have been put in since they are capable). They may develop into one of the all-time great 3-4 combinations (they will .. mark my words!), but, currently, their joint total of 0 career Test runs and 0 lifetime Test centuries .. means nothing! We all have to start one time or another .. Already Pakistani bowling has restricted the mighty Australia to a batting total other test playing teams can only dream of .. give the youngsters more time and they'll rule the world of cricket!

    I like your writing style however it would be advisable to remain more current. Stats are just Stats!

  • StaniArmy.Com on July 14, 2010, 11:15 GMT

    Excellent article.

    You really do see the game's intricacies well Andy.....unlike Chris Broad.

  • Runner on July 14, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    Enough of this nonsense, running into the opposing batsman shud be stopped teenager or grandpop, Clarke must be congratulated for not giving him a swipe accross his face with his bat for the jump into and fondling, Ponting did the correct thing, as pointed out if as Aussie bowler had done this to a Pakistani or Indian batsman it would have been world war III

  • Harold Naidu on July 14, 2010, 11:02 GMT

    Very interesting article you have a good sense of humour

  • ali on July 14, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    younis kahan average against aussies in test 31. mohammad yousuf's average against aussies 29.

    surely worldclass..lolz..they were players who hardly won pakistan anything and played their best cricket on dead docile wickets against dead bowling attacks...its right to give umar and azhar chance..infact it wud have been better had khuram manzoor had been given a chance instead of eternal flop imran farhat

  • safwan on July 14, 2010, 10:26 GMT

    absolutely awesome!! The bit on azhar ali and Umar Amin was especially hilarious, in these overcast conditions, an improvement on 0 and 1 might just be very acceptable....lol.

    Ian Gould is a good umpire, they all make mistakes, but your take on him was refreshing to say the least, those 78 runs that katich got post his LBW retrieval, could well seal the game for Australia. Our batting looks really bare, fawad alam or asim kamal should have been selected in place of umar and azhar ali.

  • Habib on July 14, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    This is the most interesting sports article I have ever seen.

  • shahid on July 14, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    better then all other articles covering 1st days play. Fun to read.

  • Alex on July 14, 2010, 10:09 GMT

    A question Andy - in my midweek professionals' cricket league, I regularly take wickets with some downright awful bowling and my team mates are all too pleased to motivate me with the phrase "[rubbish] gets wickets". I am, however, the leading wicket taker for our team this season. With your amazing command of Statsguru, who is the "worst" bowler to have taken the most test wickets?

  • Andrew on July 14, 2010, 10:07 GMT

    Swaaroop, it's hard to love watching a fidgety nudger unless they play for your team...Paul Collingwood needs to be included in your list and, of course, the correct answer is - none of them!

  • malik on July 14, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    oh come on ricky, you should not have done it being such a senior player .. mais bon c pa grave

  • Abrar Salim on July 14, 2010, 9:23 GMT

    good read . excellent read .

  • Sohel ahmed on July 14, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    Kick ass! Yes,these are the exact words i've been looking for for so long to describe andy's writings.His words just kick you on your ass and even if you are a world champion dumb,they surely will make you laugh thus helping you to get rid of that unwanted title of the dumbest of the universe.Carry on andy,like i said before,there's no one like you....

  • Abul Hasan on July 14, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    One of the funniest guys ever. Certainly the funniest one to write about cricket. One can not stop laughing.

  • Greg S on July 14, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    The umpires & match referee need to sit down & talk with Aamer about running into batsmen. Sure the 2 incidents (including running into Clarke in the T20) weren't too serious but if an Australian bowler had run into a Pakistan or India batsman, World War 3 would have broken out & there would have been calls for the bowler to be suspended and the test series threatened.

  • Arbab Arshad on July 14, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Nice article for a wee laugh in the morning

  • Paul van Ryswyck on July 14, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    What baout the SA team in their "comeback from isolation" first test? Surely their No's 3 & 4 were on debut? Apart from K Wessles who opened the batting (?) there was no one else with test experience?

  • Ham on July 14, 2010, 8:24 GMT

    Well Swaroop, add Langer, Kallis to the list...

  • sunny on July 14, 2010, 8:12 GMT

    Andy i have read you for the first time and it was marvellous. i pray that Pakistani team performs well and Afridi scores some runs with the bat. i am his greatest fan but was disappointed with his bowling. but his captaincy was brilliant.

  • Arslan Baig on July 14, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    A great blog. An entertaining read.

  • Syed Noman on July 14, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    This peace was hilarious, entertaining and gigantically informative. You mentioned all the stuff with the command as if you seen all with your eyes and waited for this moment to discharge all. Just like retired army officers mention all the events as if they are living those moments again. That is my first experience with your article and from now onwards I will keep looking out for your new articles.

  • Khurram on July 14, 2010, 8:07 GMT

    Out class.. really enjoyed this awesome article

  • Noman Yousuf on July 14, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Hilarious! and few eye-opening stats; only stats like 36-26-34 could be more eye-opening. Please keep writing on Aus-Pak series, the mercurial v the stubborn series, difficult to find a better muse. Cheers!

  • Bilal Farooq on July 14, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    EXCELLENT piece of humour! personnally I myself (a pakistan cricket fan) am of the opinion that even if Pakistan wants to try out new (so-called) talent they probably should try them out later down in the order. Because if wickets start to tumble, and with Pakistan they usually do, the present entire middle order (or so to say Umar Akmal) will be under immense pressure.

  • SAQIB AHMED on July 14, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    its pleasing to see pakistan getting on y\the rirht track of the enthuastic team spirit tht really lacked at auastralia. much pleasing to see is afridi lwading the side... hope they start getting a winning streak against australia in tests as well..

  • Swaroop on July 14, 2010, 7:37 GMT

    Whom would you rather watch scoring a Test Match double-century - Gary Kirsten, Simon Katich, Shiv Chanderpaul?

  • Amer Malik on July 14, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Sublime!

  • Daud on July 14, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    A nice written article showing the acuteness a cricket lover watches a match with.Just amazing sketch of events on the day. I am a pakistani fan and was delighted to see the opening day. I hope that pakistan's duo of debutants stuck together and score runs. As for stats concerned, they are what makes the game more interesting. Q: What do you think of pakistans prospects in near future in tests and odi's. Q: And how is this australian unit going to rule test cricket for any more time seeing their bowling and batting recently?

  • Anonymous on July 14, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    man .... this is really good .... hadn't read any of your stuff before ....

  • Adeel Tahir on July 14, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    My hair style became as Andy's when i finished reading this article.

    Greatly written. Thumbs up :)

  • Sohaib Haider on July 14, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Yo Andy, i believe that its every commentator's dream right now to be on air when T Paine is batting. Like Paine has struck, Paine has hit him out of the park, Paine is OUT. Oh the irony. And yeah Aamer bowled really amazing. Let's see how the new teenagers bat for Pakistan. Much love.

    PS: Can't wait for Murali post. Love that guy to bits.

  • Anonymous on July 14, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    funny

  • Cric.Analysis on July 14, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    Brilliant!!! One of your best ever!

  • Umair on July 14, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    Fantastic as always Andy.

    Still recovering from the stomach ache caused by "when a commercial dispute led to West Indies having to ask if anyone in the crowd fancied a game against Bangladesh"

  • Dawood on July 14, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    Great Article

  • american-pak on July 14, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    this was absolutely hilarious.

    i was dreading the thought of seeing pak's untested 3 & 4 get dominated for ducks -- picturing tait blowing out a leg stump and another man caught at slip -- but now when that (inevitable) happens, i will think of this article instead and have a laugh.

    btw: how did sri lanka do in that match where they sent in 7 debutants? (statsguru help?)

  • soubhik on July 14, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    any specific reason for the strange phenomenon of BC Lara, SR Tendulkar and R Ponting being able to manage a meager 54 [Lara] as their top score at lord's? as we all know, Ajit Agarkar pretty much sauntered to a 100 at the home of cricket, what has stopped these 3 giants of the game to emulate Agarkar & co's exalted feat?

  • Asif Iqbal on July 14, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    On which two consecutive position the debutant score highest run excluding the whole team 1st test ?

  • vineet on July 14, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    U made my day....gr8 wrk....

  • Saleem Chaudhry on July 14, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    There is no doubt, Pakistani bowlers bowled very good and worked very hard, after a long time, we look a very good team sprit in our team, all players played very well, Specially Muhammad Aamir, Asif, Danish Kaneria & also Shahid Afridi, In all the day we look very good captaincy of Shahid Afridi, we are hopefull that all the players play their real game,

  • Aftab Ahmed Awan on July 14, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    Outstanding and hilarious

  • Tulmeez on July 14, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    I agree to every thing up there. If we go through the stats it is really very risky, but, who knows Amin and Ali play the innings of their life. They are young and if courage is there it can be any thing beyound every one is thinking. At the same time it is necessary for the "Test Cricket of Pakistan"

  • irfan nazir on July 14, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    always fun to read andy's articles. looking forward to many more on this test series.

  • Jim on July 14, 2010, 5:51 GMT

    If - unfortunately - You wake up and find in the morning that you have got Murali's bowling action, what would you do?

  • Dinesh on July 14, 2010, 5:49 GMT

    Interestingly, around 14 years back India decided to give debuts to two middle order batsmen in Lord's, Dravid and Ganguly. Even though they batted at 3,5 for most of their careers later on, they were separated by a buffer ( I am chuckling while writing that as they were anything but a buffer in that innings) consisting of Azhar, Tendulkar and Jadeja. And what they did on their debut and afterwards is well known to all. I wonder if Pakistan will try to do the same instead of sending their new bats at 3 and 4.

  • khawar Sohail on July 14, 2010, 5:49 GMT

    Is the referral system not used in this series? It is very good system. Its strange it is not used. I think pak team will be out for a lower than Australian score. Its good yohuna is out of team. He became more a preacher than cricketer

  • Faisal on July 14, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    It is indeed a pleasure as a pakistan fan that they had a good day on the field, but i think pakistan batting is very fragile they can be bowled out under 150 Runs mark, Younus and Yousuf has been the success story for them , one can understand still Aussies are pretty happy over the runs they have under their belt . Amir has been a great prospect for Pakistan . I think Pakistan batting line up lacks maturity and test experience but cricket is a funny game .Andy I believe if we could dent australia , English team is just need to roll them over as they would be pretty vulnerable , need your thoughts on ashes as English team playing really well against them but its the extra bit that makes it more competitive when Ahses happen. Andy its been a pleasure to read your article :)

  • salman mahmood on July 14, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    This is not the first time that Amer collided with a batsman after getting him out. A similar incident happened in the T20 when Amer collided with Clarke after he got out. Apparently, he gets so excited that he does not realize who is in front of him. I guess we can not blame him as he is still a teen.

  • Azhar on July 14, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    You're awesome and I love your blog, keep it up :)))

  • ahmed juneid on July 14, 2010, 5:41 GMT

    i read u for the first time Andy, and i must say you are a real stat freak.Choice of words and content is brilliant. Love it!

  • Farhan on July 14, 2010, 5:35 GMT

    Great article. I will be looking out for your posts during this series - for the sake of tv-less cricket fans (like myself) I hope you keep giving your unique and hilarious updates frequently =)

  • Sam on July 14, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Brilliant and witty expose, as always! :)

  • Sami Bhatti on July 14, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    Really Hilarious. Big fan of the Confectionery Stall, and happily surprised to find this article! The look of disappointment in umpire Gould's face when he realized his finger-raising moment was usurped by the bails breaking was toooo funny!

  • Bilal on July 14, 2010, 5:06 GMT

    amazing piece, absolutely hilarious

  • Aoun Hassan on July 14, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    Couldn't agree more with you. Particularly the first half of your article. Being a true cricket fan, It was quite disappointing when Katich and Pointing were given not out and was also a touch disappointing when Clark was given out. Pointing dismissal and his reaction also reminded me his famous runont during 2005 ashes. If you look at the elbow replay, there is a big question mark as who is the culprit. Pointing should have walked out with more dignity, specially when you have 2nd highest test runs and have played 145 tests. So what you got out by someone who is half of your age. Amir also needs to watch out. He was involved in similar incident rather was at fault in T20 match but at the end it was all good courtesy to some great gesture by Clark.

  • JK on July 14, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    Andy..great read as usual..An interesting side note - during the 1996 Lord's Test (Eng vs India), India also fielded 2 debutants at 3 and 6 respectively ( ganguly and dravid)...as we know, they played the majority of their test careers together with their batting positions swapped...

  • Aditya Subramaniam on July 14, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    Seeing that I'm wasteful enough to sit on Cricinfo the entire day long :), must say that this article has been amongst the most kick-ass and thought-provoking article that your Einstein-looking head (and, Mr. Einstein, I do mean this in the politest of ways) has delivered to the bored world of Test Match enthusiasts. Seeing Pakistan and Australia play in an atmosphere of swing, and not a Bore-at-Lahore or a Cracka-at-WACA, has been a breath of fresh air (pardon the pun).

  • Emad Din on July 14, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    LOL, that was perhaps the most I've laughed, ever. What sort of mad genius drives a man to write in so many delectable layers of funny?! But I ought to add that I thought Pakistan were a bit daft debuting azhar ali AND umar amin at the same time. Debut one and give shoaib malik a chance, duh! Hopefully, by Lunch tomorrow, Aus: 235 & Pak: 100/1

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  • Emad Din on July 14, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    LOL, that was perhaps the most I've laughed, ever. What sort of mad genius drives a man to write in so many delectable layers of funny?! But I ought to add that I thought Pakistan were a bit daft debuting azhar ali AND umar amin at the same time. Debut one and give shoaib malik a chance, duh! Hopefully, by Lunch tomorrow, Aus: 235 & Pak: 100/1

  • Aditya Subramaniam on July 14, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    Seeing that I'm wasteful enough to sit on Cricinfo the entire day long :), must say that this article has been amongst the most kick-ass and thought-provoking article that your Einstein-looking head (and, Mr. Einstein, I do mean this in the politest of ways) has delivered to the bored world of Test Match enthusiasts. Seeing Pakistan and Australia play in an atmosphere of swing, and not a Bore-at-Lahore or a Cracka-at-WACA, has been a breath of fresh air (pardon the pun).

  • JK on July 14, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    Andy..great read as usual..An interesting side note - during the 1996 Lord's Test (Eng vs India), India also fielded 2 debutants at 3 and 6 respectively ( ganguly and dravid)...as we know, they played the majority of their test careers together with their batting positions swapped...

  • Aoun Hassan on July 14, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    Couldn't agree more with you. Particularly the first half of your article. Being a true cricket fan, It was quite disappointing when Katich and Pointing were given not out and was also a touch disappointing when Clark was given out. Pointing dismissal and his reaction also reminded me his famous runont during 2005 ashes. If you look at the elbow replay, there is a big question mark as who is the culprit. Pointing should have walked out with more dignity, specially when you have 2nd highest test runs and have played 145 tests. So what you got out by someone who is half of your age. Amir also needs to watch out. He was involved in similar incident rather was at fault in T20 match but at the end it was all good courtesy to some great gesture by Clark.

  • Bilal on July 14, 2010, 5:06 GMT

    amazing piece, absolutely hilarious

  • Sami Bhatti on July 14, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    Really Hilarious. Big fan of the Confectionery Stall, and happily surprised to find this article! The look of disappointment in umpire Gould's face when he realized his finger-raising moment was usurped by the bails breaking was toooo funny!

  • Sam on July 14, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Brilliant and witty expose, as always! :)

  • Farhan on July 14, 2010, 5:35 GMT

    Great article. I will be looking out for your posts during this series - for the sake of tv-less cricket fans (like myself) I hope you keep giving your unique and hilarious updates frequently =)

  • ahmed juneid on July 14, 2010, 5:41 GMT

    i read u for the first time Andy, and i must say you are a real stat freak.Choice of words and content is brilliant. Love it!

  • Azhar on July 14, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    You're awesome and I love your blog, keep it up :)))