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Australians get stoned

A look back at the tempestuous end to a wretched Australia tour of Pakistan

Martin Williamson

October 4, 2008

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Kim Hughes: "People don't deserve to see international cricket when they behave like this" © Getty Images

Australia's tour of Pakistan in late 1982 was wobbly before it even started, with several big names opting to sit it out, and almost nothing went right from the moment Kim Hughes' side landed.

Australia came into the series after a six-month break from Test cricket, while Pakistan were on a roll after a successful tour of England. After three drawn warm-up matches, the three-Test series was very one sided: Pakistan won twice by nine wickets and once by an innings. In between those matches there were two ODIs, again won by Pakistan.

On the end of a hiding, the Australians' morale was further sapped by incidents which marred the Test and ODI staged at Karachi's National Stadium.

The Test was delayed twice as Hughes took his side from the middle after boundary fielders were struck by missiles thrown by students. The second time was more serious, as spectators tore down the fencing and invaded the ground, causing a 45-minute delay. An angry Hughes threatened to scrap the tour then and there. "When a player cannot field on the boundary without being hit, then something serious has to be done to make spectators realise it is wrong," he said. "People don't deserve to see international cricket when they behave like this."

The comments hardly endeared the Australians to the Karachi locals, and it was unfortunate for Hughes' men that the final game of the series, the third ODI, was held at the National Stadium.

More than 30,000 packed in for the match, Pakistan batted and, in searing heat, made a good start. The trouble started after 15 minutes, when Geoff Lawson was seen throwing a stone back into the crowd while fielding at long leg. Hughes and the umpires spoke to him and after lengthy conversations, and a plea from Hughes to the stands for calm, decided to carry on.

The continuation was brief. Missiles continued to be thrown from the stands, and when Lawson was hit on the leg and with his team-mates also under fire, Hughes led his players from the middle, angrily showing a large rock to the spectators. Pakistan were 39 for 1.

For almost an hour the captains, managers and officials discussed abandoning the game but eventually the Australians were persuaded to play on. For their part the police, summoned by the authorities, baton-charged the crowd to drive them back from the fences.

The mood was still tense when the match resumed, and within an over trouble flared again as stones and rotten fruit rained down on the boundary fielders. Greg Ritchie was hit. Once more the players headed off and this time there was no chance of them returning.

With the situation growing uglier, the safety of the teams was paramount, and on the advice of the authorities they were quickly ushered out of the stadium. Only when they had left was there an announcement made that the game had been abandoned.

That was the signal for the real trouble to start. What was by then a mob turned on the police, attacking them with stones and seats ripped up from the stands, and setting light to the canvas awnings used as protection from the sun.

If the authorities are too frightened to use police inside the ground then we are too frightened to play cricketCol Egar, Australia's manager

The police responded with another baton charge, and when that failed they used tear gas. The battle spilled into the streets surrounding the stadium, and rioters prevented fire engines reaching the ground, where plastic seats and other combustible items were burning out of control.

Col Egar, the Australians' manager, who was instrumental in persuading Hughes to try to resume the match, was highly critical of the stadium authorities, who used volunteers to control the crowd rather than the police - since it was felt they often only exacerbated matters. Wisely as it turned out, the authorities had the foresight to hold the police reserve outside.

"If the authorities are too frightened to use police inside the ground then we are too frightened to play cricket," Egar said, adding that three of the side - Ian Callen, Ritchie and Lawson - had been struck by items that included shoe heels and batteries from radios.

It was to be six years before Australia returned to Karachi, and although a Test did take place, the ODI later in the series was cancelled as a result of security concerns following rioting in the city. In the last two decades there have only been three more matches at the National Stadium between the two sides, the last one being in November 1998.

Is there an incident from the past you would like to know more about? Email with your comments and suggestions.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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