England v Pakistan, third Test, Headingley, 1982 April 4, 2010

Imran stands up to England

When the warrior marshalled his troops to fight like they had never before
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It's the summer of 1982. Pakistan are playing England at Headingley, in the series decider. They could have won at Edgbaston but the final day is my first taste of Pakistan's difficulties in chasing a fourth-innings total - two wickets lost before a run is scored. Unpredictable Pakistan? You bet.

This is followed by an uplifting historic first win at Lord's, where Mohsin "The Eagle" soars and Mudassar "Mud" Nazar turns in his most memorable performance for Pakistan - as a medium-pacer. This is the awakening, Pakistan cricket battling on equal terms with their former imperial master.

Headingley, all overhead cloud and seam movement, is a ground that doesn't inspire confidence in our team. England are favourites, especially as Pakistan's injury list means "Halwai" Ehteshamuddin has been drafted in from the Bolton League as third seamer. There is a subplot - the battle to be recognised as the world's No. 1 allrounder: Imran v Botham on show, with Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee in the wings.

It's the school holidays, and I'm young enough and local enough to attend all five days, and I do. I'm mesmerised from the first minute, even though the highest total in the match is only 275. It is a classic Headingley wicket and every run is a minor triumph. Pakistan take a first-innings lead, with captain Imran Khan top-scoring and then taking five wickets. Imran's expert marshalling of the tail to rescue Pakistan's innings is as enjoyable as his sprinting, leaping fast bowling. I see Botham, Gower, Willis, Gatting, Miandad, Zaheer, Majid, and Qadir, some of the greatest cricketers in history, and it feels special.

The second innings is a real struggle for Pakistan, Mohsin and Mudassar fall to Willis without a run on the board. At a moment of crisis Javed flashes a breathtaking, almost reckless fifty, before Imran is again left with the tail to set England a worthy target. He battles every inch, judiciously switching between defence and attack, ordering his tailenders how to approach each ball. Nor does Imran shirk any challenge. He wants to face every ball and does his utmost to protect his partner.

It is Imran against the English, a warrior standing alone to defend his nation. And Imran is winning, the target creeping above 200, until umpire David Constant intervenes. Sikander Bakht, Pakistan's matchstick fast bowler, has valiantly supported his captain with 7 off 47, but Constant gives him out caught off his pad to Vic Marks. It is a decision that any member of the crowd can instantly judge is incorrect. Sikander is stunned, Imran fuming under his helmet, Pakistan's rally undone by treachery, their supporters incandescent in the stadium.

The Halwai is helped on to the pitch; his 14 overs in the first innings and third-ball duck have earned him a pulled muscle. Imran knows he has run out of time and quickly falls to Botham. He marches off, head held high, with no acknowledgment to Ehtesham, who has to be carried off the pitch. A moment of comedy to break the tension.

Pakistan lose by three wickets, but they have fought like we've never seen them before. It is a moment of pride. Imran has shown Pakistan cricket a new way, the way of the warrior. The series, to my mind, is the turning point in Pakistan's cricket history. There is no looking back from here.

Those feelings are still with me now. The tension of the five days, the injustice and anger of Sikander's dismissal, the thrill of Miandad's innings, the expectation of each one of Qadir's deliveries, and above all the pride of watching Imran's fearless leadership. I know I've witnessed something special in these five days but how could I know what would follow in the next three decades?

Kamran Abbasi is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gallant_cricketer on April 7, 2010, 21:08 GMT

    The English performance was also commendable which only made the series more closely fought and exciting. One highlight was that Botham as a great player changed his batting style from relying on aggression to exercising patience and defense, showing that he could bat that way too.

    The Lords test included one of the fastest overs Imran ever bowled. It was his first over in the morning on the third day in which he removed Jackman, which led to England following on and ultimately Pakistan's win.

    Another comedy scene I recall is frowning face of Qadir with vehement appealing and waving of arms after hisLBW appeal against Botham was turned down. It seemed pretty close though and it made Qadir emotionally devastated.

    I do agree with the Kamran that this series was a turning point for Pakistan in that they learnt how to fight and win.

  • straight6 on April 7, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    That 1982 Series was just superb and I will always have fond memories of it. I was just a little kid, but I saw Imran Khan at his best. Taking Bothams middlestump at Edgebaston for A GOLDEN DUCK was just brill! Patrick Eager brought out a book later that summer and the pictures certainly tell the story. In the Lords Test Mohsin and Mudassar got the honours, but Imran had bowled probably his best and in one particular spell which I saw with my very own eyes, Imran yorked Bob Taylor, the England keeper, full on his toes, and he got injured and play was halted. In the Headingley Test again Imran was bowling with great pace and one particular incident was the Allan Lamb incident where Imran bowled Allan Lamb a very ferocious bouncer and Lamby very nearly knocked his helmet onto his stumps by taking evasive action. Abdul Qadir was also great to watch weaving his magic spell on the Englishmen. Another fond memory I have is when Pakistan had England at 9 for 3 at Lords, Great Cricket

  • straight6 on April 7, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    That 1982 Series was just superb and I will always have fond memories of it. I was just a little kid, but I saw Imran Khan at his best. Taking Bothams middlestump at Edgebaston for A GOLDEN DUCK was just brill! Patrick Eager brought out a book later that summer and the pictures certainly tell the story. In the Lords Test Mohsin and Mudassar got the honours, but Imran had bowled probably his best and in one particular spell which I saw with my very own eyes, Imran yorked Bob Taylor, the England keeper, full on his toes, and he got injured and play was halted. In the Headingley Test again Imran was bowling with great pace and one particular incident was the Allan Lamb incident where Imran bowled Allan Lamb a very ferocious bouncer and Lamby very nearly knocked his helmet onto his stumps by taking evasive action. Abdul Qadir was also great to watch weaving his magic spell on the Englishmen. Another fond memory I have is when Pakistan had England at 9 for 3 at Lords, Great Cricket

  • Engle on April 7, 2010, 3:35 GMT

    After Bradman and Sobers, I would venture to say that the 3rd greatest cricketer is Imran Khan. Whereas other cricketers could be emulated no matter how good they were, these 3 would be well nigh impossible to duplicate. Bradman was so far ahead of the pack of batsman, Sobers so versatile and entertaining and Imran the most overworked cricketer yet one who thrived on challenges. Fast-bowler, batsman, captain, selector, mentor, media-relations, law changer...there will never be another.

  • straight6 on April 7, 2010, 3:22 GMT

    That 1982 series was just brilliant. I was a little boy then, but i was lucky to see everything in that series. I witnessed Mohsin's 200 at Lords and Mudassar's 'Man with the Golden Arm spell'. Zaheer was threatening all series, but only had the one knock of 75, which was very delightful to watch, Tom Graveney commented that it was a typical Zaheer innings, with pure timing and great footwork. Miandad was a let down though, in a very crowded batting line of Zaheer Abbas, Majid Khan, Haroon Rashid, Wasim Raja, Salim Malik and Mansoor Akhtar. Miandad was only and only taking himself on and had a poor showing throughout, and infact had he contributed with his bat more then i'm sure Pakistan would have won the series. In the One-dayers the highlite for me was the Golden Duck Ian Botham got from an Imran Khan 'Indipper', the ball cartwheeled Botham's middlestump and Botham, who had just come out in his floppy sunhat went off saying the 'F' and 'B' word. Imran had one on Botham for sure

  • dummy4fb on April 6, 2010, 19:27 GMT

    Imran Khan is easily the best cricketer ever produced by Pakistan. To compare him with the likes of Ian Botham, Viv Richards, Dennis Lilee, Kapil Dev etc is unfair. They were all great cricketers and that period of play can be considered golden for cricket. Twas the period when the better was better, slogger was slogger and the best was best. Not like today where a bowler like steyn after swingiing the bowl comprehensively gets hit for a unintended four. And where a batsman like pollard hits mistimed sixes. And also where a player of Dravid's calibre is sent way down the batting order (after Uthappa). I wish that i was born in that era.

  • NK67 on April 6, 2010, 17:40 GMT

    in his autobiography david constant talks about the sikander decision saying that he mistook the noise of bat on pad for bat on ball. sounds like an honest enough mistake to me. compare that with the incredibly poor decisions down the years given by the likes of shakoor rana, khizar hayyat, & shakeel khan that have infuriated EVERY test playing country that has toured pakistan. that is not honest umpiring. that is blatant dishonesty & that played a part in neutral umpires being introduced in test cricket. why has kamran abbasi not mentioned that instead choosing to blame david constant?

  • NK67 on April 6, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    i would've been 15 when this series took place & can remember it clearly. day 4 at lords was my first ever visit to a cricket ground. fascinating series esp when you look at the make up of the two teams. england's outstanding bowler was their captain, willis. he missed the 2nd test & that was the one england lost. botham had a quiet series by his high standards. as for the batting, well i recall randall being pressed into opening. how bizarre does that look now? also has to be said that mike gatting at that stage had not scored a test 100 so to call him a "great" is a bit ridiculous. basically the england batting depended on a bit of solid batting from tavare & the elegance of gower. this would've been lamb's 2nd series & he didn't have a good series. pakistan had the more accomplished batsmen but take away mohsin's 200 & there wasn;t much left. imran had to perform heroics with the bat & ball in every test & he was on his own. hardly fair to mention umpire constant imho.

  • Engle on April 6, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    When Imran was made captain, it was with a great sense of trepidation amongst fans. Could a fast bowler, who also bats fairly well succeed with added pressure by being made captain ? And for a team like Pakistan ? Impossible, I thought. Surprise, surprise. Not only did he succeed beyond one's wildest dreams, his performances actually got better with leadership. Which is why he is so unique. No other fast-bowling all-rounders of his time (or any) could succeed as captain. Botham, Kapil, Hadlee, Kallis, Flintoff, S.Pollock never could...it's too much to ask for.

  • ianChappellFan on April 6, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    i agree with stargazer and itchy, it was not like it was not happening in pakistan as well, but it irks more when an english umpire does it since the englishmen have this religious than thou sort of air around them, the players, commentators, press and umpires. So a pak ump doing it is normal but an englishman seems strange.

    btw, no one has mentioned that the concept of neutral umpires was first introduced by imran, in a series with WI, he wanted to beat the best team in the world fair and square. he was surely ahead of his time, at that time everyone in pak complained that you are not utilizing the "home umpire advantage", against the best side in the world.

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