Pakistan History:Packer row & Aussie tour: loss against W. Indies (13 Oct 1997)

13 October 1997

Packer row & Aussie tour: loss against W. Indies

By Lateef Jafri

MUCH before the trip to Australia was to be undertaken in December 1976 a rift developed between the senior players and the board president, Hafeez Kardar, on the question of payment. The controversy had actually started during the New Zealand second Test at Hyderabad. The Australians were worried that perhaps the Pakistan tour may be called off. The then Education Minister and ex-officio head of the Federal Sports Board, Hafeez Pirzada, intervened in support of the cricketers and dissolved the selection panel and installed Hanif Mohammad as the selectorial chief. Kardar too reluctantly accepted the players' demand. Mushtaq took over as captain replacing the previously appointed Intikhab Alam. The Australians were happy that the crisis was over and the tour was on. In the first Test at the Adelaide Oval Iqbal Qasim, one of the most intelligent and crafty left-hand spinners to beat the batsmen with his slow, disguised stuff made his maiden appearance. He earned the appreciation of the experts for his changing, curving flight. Even the late Hafeez Kardar, a keen observer of the game, who paid tributes only to the best, commended Iqbal Qasim's trickery.

As the first innings of the two sides ended it appeared that Australia had an upper hand in the Test for they had a lead of nearly 200. Zaheer Abbas was in his true elements and played a capital knock of 101. Then came Asif Iqbal, Mushtaq's deputy on the tour, to play a courageous and audacious innings of 152. Australia were handicapped by the absence of Thomson who had been injured after colliding with Alan Turner. He took no further part in the series. Even though Lillee was in splendid form the task was beyond the Aussie bowlers to get Pakistan out twice for a victory. Mushtaq and Miandad played well enough to save Pakistan. For Australia Davis and Walters hit hundreds with strokes which pleased the eye.

The second Test at Melbourne went in favour of Australia by the overwhelming margin of 348 runs. Australia amassed a huge score of 517 with centuries by Greg Chappell and Cosier. With Sadiq's return to the team and scoring a century (105) Pakistan responded with an impressive total of 333. However, Pakistan looked to be in danger, thought the supporters of the team. McCosker hit a hundred for Australia and when the home side's captain, Greg Chappell, set Pakistan to score 500 for victory the task was too difficult. Lillee bowled violently and vehemently to cause trouble for Pakistan who folded up in the second knock for 151 to give Australia the lead in the series.

On a docile pitch Lillee captured 10 wickets for 135 runs. At the Sydney cricket ground it was Pakistan that was dominant of the two teams and earned their first victory in Australia and their second against the Oceanic country. Imran, well supported by Sarfraz, broke the back of Australia in the first innings. They were 38 for 4 and then 159 for nine when Walker, coming at No. 11, and Lillee took the score to 211.

Racing from the run-up beautifully and in perfect motion Imran made fine use of the humidity and almost shook the Australian batsmen with his seamers. His speed and velocity were almost equal to his Australian counterpart, Lillee. The crowds packing the environs of the Sydney ground just admired Imran's wondrous effort. In the second innings he was equally dangerous to rout the Australians for a total of 180. The rest day came as only nine wickets had fallen and it was Imran who finished the Australian knock by taking Lillee's wicket.

Pakistan had only to make a bare 32 which they attained with the loss of two wickets in the morning sunshine. The rubber was thus evened. For Pakistan Asif Iqbal hit another hundred and batted in a brisk vein. Miandad too made a crashing onslaught on Lillee and Walker to race to 64, a fine piece of batsmanship. Imran's 12 wickets for 165 was a commendable performance on a track that was fast and lively. His crashing pace with change of direction and lift established him firmly as a bowler of the superior class.

Pakistan flew on straight from Australia to West Indies, eighteen years after their visit to the Banana Islands, to complete their commitments of the side matches and a five-Test series. Pakistan, though lost the rubber by 2-1, were a popular pack greeted on all venues for their excellent exploits of batting and bowling.

The West Indians had strengthened their heavy artillery with the induction into the team of Colin Croft and Joel Garner, a 6ft 8in. giant with athletic built. Though Croft had 33 scalps in his bag in the series it was Garner, with 25 wickets, who impressed the purists. His follow-through was delightful as was his rhythmical action and the booming speed with magnificent line and length. His attack usually commanded respect and care. Garner became an asset to the Caribbeans for some years.

The first Test at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, in February 1977 saw the whirligig of pendulum swinging this way and that. Initially the first innings of Pakistan was dominated by Majid, 88, but later by left-handed Wasim Raja, a short man, who hit the ball with confidence and hard. Some thought he was wielding a cross bat but there was technique and footwork. Raja helped Pakistan to a score of 435 due to which the match moved towards a draw.

The West Indies with a hundred by skipper Lloyd and ably aided by Greenidge, Murray and latterly by the lusty drives of Garner responded with 421. Perhaps the match will be indecisive, thought the spectators. But drama was in store when Pakistan's innings terminated at 291, the West Indies then needed 306 for victory. They were 129 for 1 at lunch on the last day. But then Sarfraz especially and Imran bowled gallantly and with fire. West Indies stumbled to 194 for 5 at tea. They were 217 for 8 with defeat staring them in the face. However, Garner and Croft and Andy Roberts stood their ground to deny Pakistan what appeared a certain win. Wasim Bari and Raja set a 10th wicket partnership of 133, which is a record for all Tests.

Murray, the West Indian keeper, gave away 29 byes which added to the leg-byes and no-balls came to 68 extras, a record in Test matches. The West Indies gained a comfortable six-wicket victory over Pakistan in the second Test at Port-of-Spain.

Croft shook the Pakistan batting obtaining more life from the pitch than was expected and apart from Majid and Wasim Raja none of Pakistan batsmen could show the resistance and resilience with a determined bat. Pakistan's first innings perished for just 180. When the West Indies made 316 in the first innings with Fredericks reaching his century the writing was luridly on the wall. Majid (59) and Raja (84) fought hard but the home outfit was given only a target of 204 to win, which they achieved effortlessly on the final day, but not before Imran had given them a scare by trapping Greenidge, Richards and Shallingford, a debutant.

The third Test at Bourda, Georgetown, was drawn though Pakistan were in considerable distress in the first innings, the full battery of West Indies fast bowlers causing worries to the batsmen. When the home side put on a total of 448- Greenidge (91), Shallingford (120) and Kallicharan (72) scintillating on the field with enthralling strokes- Pakistan's fate appeared more or less sealed.

Yet in the second knock the Pakistanis exhibited admirable defiance, fight and challenge. Majid hit a polished 167. Then Zaheer filled the breach as Sadiq was struck on the jaw by Roberts. Zaheer cut and drove fluently to hit 80. Majid went on his dazzling way. Haroon Rashid, Asif Iqbal and Imran contributed well enough to raise Pakistan's total to 540 to leave out any danger of Pakistan's defeat.

The West Indies could not have knocked up the difficult target of 286 in the fourth innings though Greenidge batted brilliantly and was caught on the last ball while trying to hit a four to reach his century. The West Indies were thus deprived of a 2-0 lead.

At Port-of-Spain in the fourth Test Pakistan, from the start, had an upper hand and had little difficulty in pinning down the West Indies and getting the verdict by a big margin of 266 runs to square the series 1-1.

Even though Sadiq got out early without scoring, Majid, who had a successful series, batted magnificently with powerful and daring strokes in his individualistic style. There was assurance and confidence in his stance and the manner in which he batted. His fine batsmanship with a score of 92 helped captain Mushtaq to serenely move towards a century and add 108 for the fourth wicket.

Pakistan's first innings total of 341 did not appear to be large enough on an easy-paced strip yet Imran and Mushtaq so much harassed the West Indies batsmen that they collapsed for a low score in the first knock. They were initially 73 for none but later crashed to 154 all out, giving Pakistan a handsome lead of 187.

The West Indies speed merchants, Croft and Garner, and spinner Inshan Ali were successful in trapping five Pakistani batsmen for just 95 in the second knock but then Mushtaq (56) and Wasim Raja (70) steadied the innings. In the lower order Imran and Sarfraz combined together in batting, as so often comrades-in-arms in bowling, to plunder 73 for the eighth wicket. That took Pakistan's score to 301 to give West Indies a target of 489 to win.

The West Indies required a confident and sound start. However, they were in considerable distress as by the end of the fourth day they were 146 for four with Fredericks, Greenidge, Richards and Shallingford gone. Kallicharan too could not properly read the leg breaks of Mushtaq. Perhaps the West Indies defeat was near. Nevertheless, Roberts and Murray put up a stiff resistance. Wasim Raja, with his guileful leg spinners, ultimately settled the issue to give Pakistan a clear-cut win. Mushtaq not only guided the team well he had a personal record of a century and five wickets in the Test.

The fifth encounter at Sabina Park, Kingston, went in favour of the West Indies by 140 runs, who wrapped up the series by 2-1. On a lively pitch the West Indians found it difficult to face the Pakistan pacers- Imran, Sarfraz and Sikander Bakht. Only Greenidge batted courageously and hit exactly 100 to help the West Indies to a first innings total of 280. He batted elegantly to hit forceful and flashing strokes which were vociferantly cheered by the crowds. The situation was appalling for Pakistan as Croft, Roberts and veteran leg-spinner Holford did not allow the batsmen to settle down, apart from Haroon Rashid who batted impressively for a score of 72. The West Indies first knock lead was only of 82 runs but in the second innings Greenidge and Fredericks were not separated until 182 had been scoreda new first wicket record against Pakistan.

It was a formidable task for Pakistan to get 442 on the fourth innings with Croft and Garner in full cry. Asif Iqbal was at his brilliant best and scored 135. Wasim Raja too proved a fine associate but their efforts went in vain and the West Indies had the match in their pocket just half an hour after the start of the proceedings on the final day. Wasim Bari had his 100th victim behind the wicket in this Test. Croft had a tally of 33 wickets in the series, which equalled the 1950 record of Alf Valentine, the famed West Indian spinner of yore.

In mid-1997, before the arrival of the English tourists for a three-Test itinerary in the country, the Pakistan combination had been deprived of the services of five senior players viz. Mushtaq Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas, Majid Khan and Imran Khan through the shrewd efforts of Asif Iqbal (who had announced his retirement from Test cricket). He helped sign them up for Kerry Packer, an Australian business magnate. Packer wanted the leading players of the world to figure in 'unofficial Tests,' one-dayers and three-day matches of his own, offering them heavy monetary terms. Almost all the Test-playing nations had been depleted with this new phenomenon, the Packer revolution. Pakistan was hit hard. From a balanced and strong side it had a weak look with new faces inducted to fulfil international commitments.

A makeshift captain, Wasim Bari, had been chosen for the winter duels against England. The English squad, under the captaincy of Mike Brearley, refused to play if the Pakistan set had the Packerites in it. The Pakistani media called for their inclusion while the English scribes called them 'Packerstanis' as players having no ethical values before them. Though after much delay they flew in from Australia the selection committee, headed by Imtiaz Ahmad, did not consider them for the Test engagements against England. There was a majority opinion in the cricket circles in the country and abroad that it was wrong to involve them in the tour matches as their loyalties now rested with a rival setup bent on weakening and wrecking cricket teams the world over.

The talent available in the country made its mark and the national board announced an enhanced rate of payment for the players. The highlight of first drawn Test at Lahore was a century by Mudassar Nazar in 557 minutes, the slowest on record beating South African McGlew's stonewalling for 345 minutes against Australia at Durban 20 years earlier. The effort was unique since Mudassar followed in the footsteps of his father, Nazar Mohammad. The other instances of father and son reaching three-figure marks were those of the Nourses (South Africa), the Pataudis and Amernaths (India).

The stoppages due to crowd disturbance and tear-gassing by the police on the appearance of Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Ms Benazir Bhutto at the venue deprived the match of a result. The tie was tilted towards Pakistan for England avoided the follow-on with much difficultly.

The second Test at Hyderabad, though petered out into a draw, saw the second century (108) in the series by Haroon Rashid, Javed Miandad's excellent batting and Geoff Boycott's unbeaten hundred, a diligent work, in the second knock.

The duel between Abdul Qadir and the English batsmen was significant. It was a skilful endeavour by the googly specialist, who taxed the nerves and temperament of the batsmen in this Test as in later years he tested the technique of the highest class of stroke-makers. Qadir claimed six wickets in the match.

Wasim Bari's declaration left England to make 344 in 330 minutes, an impossibility. Both sides gave up the match as drawn when Boycott showed a straight bat to reach his century with composure.

Before the start of the Hyderabad match Sarfraz suddenly flew to England making misstatements against the board and then proceeding to India to participate in the Jaisimha benefit match in Hyderabad (Deccan). The fast bowler was only recalled to the squad after he had tendered a public apology.

The Packer quartet tried hard to be invited for the third Test in Karachi but opposition by the English management as also the board officials and the captain did not allow this to happen. The third Test at the National Stadium followed the pattern of the two earlier Tests and was stalemated. Mudassar, debutant Mohsin Hasan Khan and Wasim Raja shone in the fine Karachi setting. Qadir again earned the cheers of the crowds for his lovely, deceitful spin. In England's second knock 10 Pakistani bowlers tried their hands to dislodge English batsman. The series was a draw. (To be continued)

Source:: Dawn (