February 1988

Flashpoint Faisalabad

Jack Bannister's report on the uniquely acrimonious second Test match between Pakistan and England at Faisalabad in December 1987

England 292 (Broad 116, Gatting 79, Iqbal Qasim 5-83) and 137 for 6 dec (Gooch 65) drew with Pakistan 191 (Saleem Malik 60) and 51 for 1
Scorecard



Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana exchange views © Cricinfo
Jack Bannister reports on the uniquely acrimonious second Test match between Pakistan and England, which was marred by the now-infamous argument between the England captain Mike Gatting and the Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana day, and after the rest day failed to produce a solution, the TCCB finally intervened to order an unconditional apology from the England captain 'in the wider interests of the game'

What that particular platitude ignored was the six-week background to the incident, including the conduct of some umpires as well as the method of their appointment. Another point was also missed at Lord's. The sequence of events leading to the explosion had finally focused sufficient world attention on the inherent umpiring problem in Pakistan that the politically enmeshed cricket authorities of that country were close to being forced to take some action.

Instead, one of the most shameful public humiliations ever inflicted upon a British sporting team by its own governing body meant the TCCB had abrogated its responsibility to the management and players and, perhaps unwittingly, a similar responsibility to the same 'wider interests of cricket'.

As the second paragraph of the players' crushing statement makes clear, what is beyond dispute is that the first foul and abusive language used following the umpire's procedurally incorrect interpretation of Law 42 (3 and 6) came from Shakoor Rana to Gatting. The three consecutive words he used in the hearing of players close to the incident were 'f------, cheating bastard'.

Everyone several thousand miles away, including former England captains, who simply noted Gatting's reaction to a slur and use of language which surely is without precedent in the game's history, must ask themselves how they might have reacted. Perhaps: 'I note what you say umpire, but may we discuss it later?' Mmmmm.

Gatting's response was unique and inexcusable - as was the provocation - and he should have been punished through the usual cricket channels. Why the management team of Peter Lush and Micky Stewart stood so solidly behind him was because of their knowledge of the sequence of events. Therefore once the umpire made the whole issue one of honour, they had little alternative but to back their captain's refusal to apologise unilaterally.

Natural justice and common decency demanded that, but by their final intervention, the TCCB effectively stripped Gatting and his players of their self-respect - the captain's own touchingly delivered words - and effectively made the name of English cricket something to be ridiculed in a country where winning is all-important.

A wider issue is the invidious position in which Lush and Stewart were placed by the conflicting statements which came from the winter Board meeting at Lord's. I swear that had the officials responsible been able to act with hindsight knowledge of the shattering effect that telephone call had on their besieged party of 19, and the bitter resentment it caused, they might well have acted differently.

The two most sombre Press conferences I have ever attended were those given by Alan Smith in Lahore in 1984 (the New Zealand drugs affair) and David Gower's public crucifixion at Lord's in 1986, but the innate sympathy afforded Lush, Stewart and Gatting at the end of the fourth day's play in Faisalabad was even deeper.

The match is now consigned to history for the wrong reasons. Which is a pity, because, after the second day, there was a real chance that the Pakistan ploy of preparing a second successive spinner's pitch would backfire so loudly that England just might pull off their second win in 17 attempts, spread over 26 years, in Pakistan.

Pakistan were then 106 for 5, still 186 behind England's first-innings 292, but the loss of the third day's play, together with the Pakistan Board's refusal to accommodate England's natural and reasonable request to play an extra compensatory day, effectively ensured the draw laved Miandad was relieved to secure.

To establish that position, England enjoyed five good sessions out of six after Gatting had won his second successive toss of the series. England replaced Phillip DeFreitas with Eddie Hemmings, who might still have played if the fast bowler had been fully fit, while Pakistan brought in Shoaib Mohammad and debutant Aamer Malik instead of Asif Mujtaba and the unfit Wasim Akram.



Chris Broad on his way to a first-innings 116 © The Cricketer
The tourists came straight out of the starting blocks in positive fashion, and that welcome approach, together with a much less sparkling performance from Abdul Qadir, took England to 254 for 4 at the close, with Gatting and Chris Broad stamping a contrasting personal seal on the day. The Notts opener reached his fourth Test hundred - his first since Melbourne in December 1986 - just before the close, and for the second successive Test his unease against spin was overcome with a marathon effort of unswerving concentration. His final 116 came off 339 deliveries, and he hit 13 fours in his seven-hour innings.

Gatting joined him at 124 for 2, with his normal glowing fires further stoked by the obvious queries concerning the dismissals of Graham Gooch and Bill Athey. His normal inclination to impose himself boiled over to produce the most inspiring innings by an England captain in living memory. It even surpassed Dexter's 70 at Lord's in 1963 against West Indies, when considered in the context of all the different circumstances.

The bare bones of 79 runs, including 14 fours, from 81 deliveries, were fleshed out with square-cutting, pulling and driving as ferocious as anything ever done by Gordon Greenidge, and his share of the 117 stand for the third wicket rushed his side to the dominant position of 241 for 2, 30 minutes before the close.

Qadir finally bubbled back into the game with two late wickets after a relatively quiet day, and in the morning session of the second day England were spun out by the two Qs, with Igbal Qasim taking four of the six wickets to fall to give him his seventh Test haul of five wickets in an innings.

Despite England's loss of their last eight wickets for 51, with the last four going for four runs in six overs, a total of 292 on a pitch taking finger-spin from the word go was acceptable, particularly with the start Neil Foster was to provide. He whipped out both openers with the first hostile pace and movement of the match, and with John Emburey inducing an horrendous head-up charge from Javed and then bowling Ijaz Ahmed and Shoaib Mohammad with successive deliveries, the home side were wobbling at 77 for 5 an hour before the close.

But Salim Malik (dropped at 6 by Gatting off David Capel), and Aamer Malik, who batted for 28 deliveries for his first Test run, held out until the fateful close, unaware they would not face another ball for 65 hours and 35 minutes.

When play did restart, 35 minutes late on the scheduled fourth day, only 19 legitimate deliveries were bowled before Manchester-type murk and drizzle effectively killed off the match, despite another heroic burst from Foster when play resumed in midafternoon, which gave him the splendid figures of 18-4-42-4.

England's request for an extra day was refused that night, despite the three clear days after the end of the match before the third Test was due to start in Karachi. So although Gooch's 65 off 74 balls out of 106 for 2 at lunch from the 24 overs bowled in two hours set the right attacking note, the loss of four quick wickets after lunch meant that England could not give themselves any more than 44 overs in which to bowl Pakistan out.

The home side naturally did not attempt to score the 239 they needed for victory, and the only notable feature after lunch was that both the England declaration and the end of the match took place in the middle of drinks intervals. Quite contrary to the rules, the umpires pulled up stumps at the start of the last 20 overs, apparently having been given permission by Javed, who, it must be said, was in the thick of things like a flash off the field from the end of the second day onwards.

The closing sentence of the players' statement says it all. The incident was sad for cricket, but the enforced solution even sadder.

Test Notes

  • Chris Broad, playing in his 16th match, scored his fourth Test century (first against Pakistan). It was his first hundred in first-class cricket since his 112 in the fourth Test against Australia at Melbourne in 1986-87.

  • Pakistan's total of 191 was their lowest in a home Test against England (previously 199, Karachi, 1972-73).

  • Aamer Malik, who made his Test debut in this match, is one of three players to score a century in each innings on first-class debut. Aamer, 25 in January, hit 132 not out and 110 for Lahore A v Railways at Lahore in 1979-80. The other batsmen to achieve this feat were A. R. Morris (NSW v Qld, Sydney, 1940-41) and N. J. Contractor (Gujarat v Baroda, Baroda, 1952-53).

  • Abdul Qadir was playing in his 50th Test.