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This was a most unfortunate tour for the Pakistan cricketers on their sixth visit to England. Almost nothing went right for them, with persistent rain dogging them from start to finish. In their first six matches there were nine full days without play and many others cut short by the weather. The first match in which there was play on all three days was the seventh at Lord's, where they drew quite creditably with MCC. Altogether, of the 48 days of cricket arranged for their ten-week tour, twelve were blank and thirteen more were seriously affected. One had to go back to 1958 for something similar. Then, New Zealand, in four and a half months, lost 174 playing hours - a matter of 29 days.
Only a few months earlier Pakistan, on their own slow, lifeless wickets, had acquitted themselves well while drawing the three Tests with England. But now the same combination of players rarely produced their true potential. Of the thirteen first-class matches played - that against Yorkshire was abandoned without a ball bowled - they won only one, against Surrey at The Oval in their penultimate engagement.
England overwhelmed them in the first two Tests, but in the third, at Headingley, Pakistan held the upper hand in another match ruined by rain. Although they lacked the assistance of their five Packer men when playing against England at home, they clearly felt the absence of Zaheer, Mushtaq, Majid, Imran and Asif Iqbal on this tour.
In the three Test Matches - sponsored by Cornhill Insurance - only Sadiq and Mohsin really did themselves justice with the bat. Indeed, Sadiq alone reached 50, for the pace and swing of Old, Botham, and Willis constantly left them helpless. There was much to admire in the skill of Mudassar Nazar, son of the former Test opener, Nazar Mohammad. Of pleasant disposition, he possessed a sound defence as befitted one who, at Lahore the previous December, achieved the slowest Test hundred in nine hours seventeen minutes.
Lack of match practice told against the bowlers also. When the first Test arrived, the two main pacemen, Sarfraz and Liaqat, could show only ten wickets each while Iqbal Qasim, left-arm slow, had one victim at a cost of 88 runs. To add to Pakistan's troubles Sarfraz broke down with a strained side after sending down six overs in the first Test at Edgbaston and he was still unfit for the second at Lord's How much his absence affected them was illustrated in the third Test at Headingley where England, in reply to Pakistan's 201, lost seven wickets for 119, Sarfraz claiming five for 39.
Sarfraz's injury threw a lot of extra work on Liaqat and Sikander Bakht and both used the new ball to good purpose, although their final figures did not flatter them.
While there were some brilliant catches, a dispirited side generally fielded below standard. An exception was Wasim Bari, the captain, who kept wicket with his usual efficiency and did not concede a bye in the Tests. As captain, he had a thankless task in such a disappointing season. During the first Test at Edgbaston, he said he was bitterly annoyed at the way the England batsmen had been running on the pitch. "I am not accusing England of sharp practice, but it just does not happen outside the Tests. The umpires warned Radley, Botham, and Miller twice and even thrice. They kept on saying 'Keep off the pitch'. They must have said it fifty times." Wasim also complained about the refusal of lbw appeals by umpires Bird and Palmer. The refusal of lbws to Liaqat Ali probably stemmed from the fact that when Liaqat, left arm over the wicket, hit the pads he had almost always pitched outside the leg stump so that the batsmen had a free hit.
Owing to the bad weather, takings for the three Pakistan Tests were £230,000 down compared with the first three Tests against Australia in 1977. Against this could be set the £175,000 sponsorship of Cornhill.
Test matches- Played 3: Won 0, Lost 2, Drawn 1.
First-Class Matches- Played 13, Won 1, Lost 2, Drawn 10. Abandoned 1.
Matches- Played 16: Won 1, Lost 4, Drawn 11, Abandoned 1.
Losses- England (2)
Draws- England (1), Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Essex, MCC, Derbyshire, Kent, Hampshire.
First-Class - Matches:Losses- England (2); Drawn- Oxford and Cambridge Universities XI.
Match reports for
1st ODI: England v Pakistan at Manchester, May 24-25, 1978
2nd ODI: England v Pakistan at The Oval, May 26, 1978
1st Test: England v Pakistan at Birmingham, Jun 1-5, 1978
2nd Test: England v Pakistan at Lord's, Jun 15-19, 1978
3rd Test: England v Pakistan at Leeds, Jun 29-Jul 4, 1978