Fourth Cornhill Test

ENGLAND v PAKISTAN 1992

Peter Johnson

Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: England - N.A.Mallender

England may look back on this victory, their first over Pakistan since 1982, as an even greater personal triumph for Graham Gooch than the win against West Indies on the same ground the previous year. Their captain's positive thinking tailored a deliberately misshapen team to suit a Headingley pitch which lived up to every word of its wicked reputation. His majestic 135 was the pivotal innings of another absorbing Test and his phlegmatic second-innings 37 provided England with an essential heat-shield in a feverish final session.

Given his constant involvement, it was almost inevitable that Gooch should also be the innocent central character in the most controversial of several incidents that led Pakistan into a second conflict with ICC's Code of Conduct. They believed he had been run out as he completed his 14th run and England were still a worrying distance away from the 99 needed to win. Slow-motion playbacks suggested they were right. But umpire Ken Palmer, elder brother of the official they had clashed with in the Third Test, turned down the appeal and, thereafter, the Pakistanis could not conceal their frustration. After a noisy, argumentative climax, match referee Clyde Walcott fined substitute Rashid Latif for the serious and obvious dissent of hurling his cap in anger and gave wicket-keeper Moin Khan a verbal warning.

Though Pakistan will never be totally convinced they were not the victims of injustice, they were, overall, simply waylaid by the Headingley pitch. Gooch saw it coming and planned accordingly. Wicket-keeper Russell was sacrificed to make room for an extra batsman. Malcolm and Salisbury were left out because history suggested sheer pace and wrist-spin would be useless. England made four changes from their Old Trafford squad and, after sniffing Headingley's overcast atmosphere, omitted Newport and Childs, re-introduced Pringle and Ramprakash and gave the Somerset seamer Mallender his Test début.

A calculated gamble was instantly justified when Javed Miandad, believing the wicket could only get worse and would not last five days, chose to bat. Pakistan struggled as the ball came off sluggishly, occasionally keeping low and always seaming and swinging. Although Lewis did not adapt well, Mallender collected three wickets with intelligently-controlled pace and Pringle was his usual steady self. Only Salim Malik prospered, through a selective mix of caution and sudden bouts of aggression. Several Pakistanis were as much victims of their own recklessness as of alien conditions. Asif Mujtaba and Ramiz Raja both edged into their stumps, Wasim Akram was run out in a misunderstanding with Malik and five others virtually steered the ball towards the slips. Hick took four of those catches, and collected two more when Pakistan batted again, thus equalling England's record for an innings and a match. Twenty-two catches in 11 Tests confirmed his status as one of the world's finest slip fielders; England still awaited confirmation that he was a Test batsman.

The last hour of Pakistan's 197 - and the finale of Malik's superb, unbeaten 82 - was played on a second day which dawned bright and crystal-clear. The change transformed batting into a very different art: it was still not easy, but the ball swung far less. Atherton, promoted because Stewart was resting after keeping wicket, rejoined Gooch for the first time in more than a year. Their compatibility was obvious as they put on 168, their seventh century stand together, and Atherton was heading elegantly towards three figures when a high-velocity, low-flying leg-break from Wasim hit his off stump.

Gooch, thriving on the wildest then surviving the finest of Pakistan's bowling, took England into a cloudy third day with a first-innings lead. The value of his seven-hour 135 was put into perspective only after he was bowled by Mushtaq Ahmed's delivery before lunch. He had struck 19 fours and a six in 301 balls, and his maiden century against Pakistan, and 17th in all Tests, completed his set against the six countries he had faced. But he was the third casualty of an avalanche in which nine men perished for 50. Waqar Younis, suddenly quicker and devastatingly accurate, took all five of his wickets for 13 in just 38 balls. Among the debris of England's 320 was a sound 42 by Smith, another leaden-footed failure by Hick and a third successive Test duck by Ramprakash.

A lead of only 123 was disappointing but, ultimately, more than adequate. Mallender, noticeably more confident, used the pitch with all the know-how acquired in 13 seasons foot-slogging around the county circuit. Again Pakistan found the wobbling ball an irresistible lure. Mallender, chosen as the horse for this unique course, finished with five for 50, and match figures of eight for 122. Ramiz kept his instincts in check for more than two hours making 63, and another masterpiece of bad-wicket batting by Malik- this time an unbeaten 84 - dragged his team into a fourth afternoon. But England's supposedly simple task of scoring 99 turned into a three-hour trial of skill, nerve and self-control. Reduced to three front-line bowlers by an injury to Aqib, the tourists remembered Imran Khan's famous entreaty to act like cornered tigers. Wasim and Mushtaq bowled with magnificent, legitimate hostility, backed by a fierce gale of appeals for this, that and the other. Rejection by umpires Palmer and Kitchen brought several displays of theatrical astonishment by fielders, as well as three invasions by Pakistani spectators. The pressure increased when Atherton and Smith both fell to Waqar at 27 but, thanks to Palmer's unwitting help, Gooch clung on for two hours before he was caught at silly point off Mushtaq, soon to be followed by Stewart. Gower also stayed two hours, making an equally ice-cool 31, after Latif's cap-throwing act failed to convince either umpire he had been caught behind. With some late assistance from Ramprakash, Gower finally inched his way to the target which squared the series.

Man of the Match: G. A. Gooch.

Attendance: 53,870; receipts £760,000

Close of play: First Day, Pakistan 165-8 ( Salim Malik 57* Mushtaq Ahmed 6*); Second day, England 216-1 ( G. A. Gooch 93*, R. A. Smith 22*); Third day, Pakistan 98-4 ( Salim Malik 13*, Inzamam-Ul-Haq 2*).

© John Wisden & Co