Pakistan v Australia, 1st MCC Spirit of Cricket Test, Lord's, 4th day

Patience is a missing virtue

The talent is there in the Pakistan line-up, but if the team is to compete it has to learn very quickly about the demands of Test cricket

Nagraj Gollapudi at Lord's

July 16, 2010

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Kamran Akmal was bowled for 46 to break Pakistan's final line of resistance, Pakistan v Australia, 1st Test, Lord's, July 16, 2010
Kamran Akmal's swing across the line at Steven Smith was typical of how Pakistan subsided at Lord's © Getty Images
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The Shahid Afridi episode is a clear indictment of the state of Pakistan batting. Barring Salman Butt every senior batsman went for the wrong shot exposing a fragile temperament and weak spirit, totally unfit for Test cricket. In contrast to the price every Australian batsman, including their No. 11, put on their wicket the Pakistan counterparts displayed a careless attitude and an ignorance of the occasion.

Chasing a world-record score there were never any pretensions about Pakistan reaching the summit. Still one would have expected to see them grind: batsmen straining every sinew to hang in there, to put a price on the wicket, of not falling for temptations, to show a resolve and thereby highlight the uniqueness of Test cricket. Instead the batsmen showed the same resolve a five-year-old would exercise if you dangled a toffee in front of him - they tried to latch onto it instantly and were sweetly suckered by the Australians, who laughed their way to victory.

It could've been different. The fight that Butt and Azhar Ali displayed raised expectations that Pakistan were willing to finally exercise patience. One way of combating the enemy is to never allow him to gain a foothold and Butt did well to stamp his authority. He took advantage of the numerous innocuous deliveries from Mitchell Johnson who fed his strength outside off stump and was happy to drive and cut with authority.

At the other end the Azhar carried forward the confidence displayed during his brief stay on Wednesday, smartly rotating the strike and not allowing Australia to play on his nerves. But for the second time in the match Ben Hilfenhaus, the most consistent pace bowler for Australia, managed to find Azhar's edge with a perfect outswinger. Immediately Azhar shrieked in disappointment and on his way back even apologised to Butt for falling short of his expectations.

However, it was the Butt's dismissal that gave Australia the opening they were looking for. Apart from Simon Katich, Butt was the only other batsman who had conquered the bowling and adapted to the rapidly-changing conditions. He had worked hard with Ijaz Ahmed and Aaqib Javed in the preceding weeks to put his bat in front of the pads and play close the body with a straight, stable and relaxed head. It was working and Butt seemed set to put his name on the batting honours board with a deserving century.

Unfortunately he betrayed his resolve as soon as Ricky Ponting introduced Marcus North half an hour before lunch. It would've been better to have at least a quick look at the new bowler rather than step out against a drifter that looped from down the leg side before Tim Paine came up with some swift glovework behind the stumps. Stunned at his mistake, Butt lingered for a moment in remorse. He couldn't believe what he had done.

More unbelievable was Umar Akmal's premeditated attempt to cut North in the final over before lunch. To his surprise the ball bounced more than expected and Umar guided a top edge into the hands of slip. Umar had done well to charge North in the preceding overs to hit some handsome lofted drives, including a straight six, but it was plain foolish to play a risky stroke on the cusp of the break. Umar might be only 20 but had learnt many things in his Test initiation.

After a memorable century in his debut innings in Dunedin last year he walked in after another top order collapse as Pakistan were chasing a tempting 251 for victory. He proved his precocious talent by steeling himself against everything Shane Bond and co. tried to do to unsettle him. He would have done well to remember that innings today when the sun was shining with a placid pitch in front of him.

Afridi, Kamran Akmal and the tail succumbed, putting up a toothless display. The previous evening, Umar Amin, the other debutant for Pakistan, had said the one thing he would like to learn from Katich, the highest run scorer in the match, was to leave more balls alone. Forget Katich, who is an accomplished opening batsman, but that same skill to survive was also shown by the Australian tail of Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger, who stitched together a useful 52-run stand for the final wicket on the third afternoon. In contrast Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, and Danish Kaneria gave their wickets away.

What Mohammad Yousuf, the former Pakistan captain, said recently about his country's youngsters being more inclined to excel at Twenty20 cricket rings true. In the shorter format it is the instincts that take precedence over the mind. Patience plays a minor role and it's a trait Pakistan's youngsters are woefully short of.

"If you want to play Australia you have to be mentally and physically very strong," Afridi said later with some strain before speaking out loud about why he was not enjoying playing Test cricket. Clearly he is not an ideal example to follow for a youngster wanting to excel in the longer format of the game.

Instead the wise words of Katich are worth heeding. "I've just tried to enjoy each Test match and enjoy winning Test matches, because that's part of our tradition of playing in the baggy green is to win Test matches," he said.

International players always talk about proving their mettle in Test cricket because the demands are unparalleled. Pakistan's young batsmen have a unrivalled talent. What they don't have, and need to learn quickly, is to combine it with sweat, persistence and patience.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by   on (July 19, 2010, 7:21 GMT)

We're playing against a senior team captained by Ricky Ponting, and we lose by 150 runs, and everyone has nothing nice to say about the team. Thats just cruel. I think the bowlers were excellent against the Aussie batting line up. Ponting, Hussey, Paine, White everyone crumbled! The first innings was a let down, but we came strong in the second innings. Every batsman was responsible, the debutants played wonderful cricket, but at the end of the day, 440 was just too much. For a team with such experience, we still did rather well. I do see a victory coming very soon tho.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (July 18, 2010, 16:29 GMT)

The manner in which Pakistan gifted the game to a strictly average opponent was frustrating, to say the least. As an Indian fan who grew up in the 90s, I can understand the frustration of Pakistani fans. Personally, I cheered them through the first three days only to be badly let down on day 4. The sight of Waqar Younis out there made me wistfully remember 90s Pakistan- if only someone could recapture their magic!

Posted by nerb on (July 18, 2010, 5:45 GMT)

Yes, patience was lacking before this test match even began with Captain 'Boom Boom' Afridi's comment about Pakistan's 'winning habit'. Two back to back wins in T20 is not a winning habit...but 13 consecutive test wins by Australia is against Pakistan certainly is! What a fantastic record. Even Australia's No. 10 and 11 batsmen showed more patience than Afridi in this test - and this young Pakistani side has a lot to learn from the Australian temperament shown in this match. At least Afridi has been honest and jumped before he was pushed. But the true test of patience belongs to the long suffering Pakistani cricket fans, who must be tearing their hair out at this latest in a long list of events that has tarnished their image over the last 3 years.

Posted by   on (July 17, 2010, 16:39 GMT)

very good article, spot on!

i just want to add, that the patience isn't only when they're out in the middle, but also when they're taking desicions outside teh field. They have to show faith and patience in letting the youngsters to flourish, and perform. Same goes with the new captain. We can't realistically expect him to start winning matches from the first day, he needs time to get the team going.

Posted by ejsiddiqui on (July 17, 2010, 11:48 GMT)

Nagraj you are spot on, apart from Butt; Patience was the main thing missing from Pakistani Batsmen.

There were no price tag on Pakistani wickets they freely distributed them. You don't have to be very strong to resist against temptation. Even if you have a mediocre mind you still can find. Bowlers may get you out on zero but there has to be a price on your wicket.

Posted by Shahraz_London on (July 17, 2010, 11:18 GMT)

WE ARE ON A PATH! WE LOST BUT WE PLAYED REALLY WELL! I WAS REALLY IMPRESSED. I AM REALLY GUTTED AFRIDI HAS RETIRED FROM TESTS!!!!!

Just think - the difference was minor - ie

Gave Watson 5 wikets, Gave North 5 wickets and didnt take last 2 wickets of Aus second innings! plus our best batsman Umar Akmal failed!

AFRIDI SHOULD DEFINTELY BE IN THE TEAM - THERE WILL BE TIMES WHEN HIS STYLE WILL CHANGE GAME - HIS CAPTAINCY WAS GOOD. GIVE HIM A BREAK. HE SHOULD JUST REMEMBER HOW HE PLAYED SEMIS AND FINAL OF 2009 T20.

THAT TEAM WITH YOUNKIS KHAN AND YOUSUF INCLUDED (and a replacement for Farhat - Malik or Fawad or Azhar Ali) WOULD HAVE THE PERFECT BALANCE - ALL ROLES COVERED.

AFRIDI'S DEFICIENCIES AS BATSMAN WERE ONLY HIGHLIHTED BECAUSE OTHERS DIDNT PLAY THEIR ROLE - HIS ROLE ISNT VOLUME OF RUNS ITS "CHANGING THE GAME"

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (July 17, 2010, 11:09 GMT)

Real Shame!Pakistani fans are missing to see matches on their home ground and on top of that Pakistani team is playing like bunch of club cricketers.Pakistani selection committee should also be blamed for selection blunders.Yasir Hameed and even Shoib Malik (although he should never been selected in first place) are better than Farhat and co.Umar Akmal is over rated.He has yet to win anything for Pakistan. Kamran Akmal has again and again shown that apart from being a poor wicketkeeper he is also a very average batter. Salman is a good example of hard work and patience. Ijaz Butt is reason of all problems.Players like Farhat who are associated with selection committee are being picked for no reason.What wrong Asim Kamal has done? He scored 8 half centuries in 12 test & most under extreme pressure in India and Australia.Similarly,Hassan Raza keeps scoring in domestic cricket and gets no chance?World cup is around the corner and you can not make excuses of team building after every loss.

Posted by Shujaat56 on (July 17, 2010, 8:03 GMT)

Well i think we should give Pakistan a break here.. Please understand that Pakistan are going through a building phase here in the tests.... None of the averages of Pakistani batsmen matches those of Australian batsmen, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey all average over 50 with Katich and North averaging over 40... while the Pakistanis highest average is 43 (Umer Akmal) and the rest all are below 35...... So how can you compare the two teams?

As in bowling department, the Australian attack included the likes of Hilfenhaus, Jhonson, Watson and Bollinger while Pakistanis had Gul, Asif and Aamer... I think still Pakistani bowling attack did a wonderful job to keep the Australian batting line-up below 350 in both the innings...... Its a great effort..

The fight back sown by Pakistanis in the 4th innings is the indication of a resolve that Pakistanis have... Lets hope for the best from them in the future.... I have high hopes at least....

Posted by Paki_Cheetah on (July 17, 2010, 6:00 GMT)

Patience! if I have to be patient about watching the ball go pass the batsmen all day long, I would better find another game...I was watching the match the other day and I can feel my beard grow hoping that Afridi would quit it in the middle of the match, though it was one of the better matches...yeah, Pakistanis may not be not REAL cricketers because the players themselves find Test cricket ultimate boredom, but they are REAL entertainers when it comes to T20, which requires its own set of "virtues". Cricket is GAME not a scientific research project that I have to be patient about it. Test cricket is really out of sync with the pace of modern world and I commend Afridi for giving his opinion loud and clear. ;)

Posted by 1more_opinion on (July 17, 2010, 5:39 GMT)

You are indeed right. Patience is what separated the successful batting of Pakistan like Miandad, Shoaib Mohammad in West Indies in 1988 from the ones during the last five years. On the other hand, the current crop of bowlers cant even strike the tail. Atleast Waqar and Wasim got the tail of the opposition out pretty quickly, even when Pakistan was not top of the test cricket then.

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