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As England, under D. B. Close, had made a clean sweep against India, it was feared that they would administer the same medicine to Pakistan, but the tourists saved the Lord's Test and a flicker of defiance in the final at The Oval brought lustre to the series.
Compared with their predecessors of 1962, the Pakistan team, the third to embark on a tour of England, had greater wealth in batting. In bowling there was not much penetration in pace, spin being the main weapon. Events followed a predictable course, for England won two of the three Tests. In the county matches Pakistan were able to eke out three wins and crumbled in the match against Warwickshire.
On their arrival the Pakistan team found that the weather which had earlier bedevilled the Indians, had exhausted its fury; but the batting generally was too cautious and the bowling failed to strike awe even among county batsmen not of very high credentials. Before the first Test, Pakistan won only one first-class match, against Minor Counties, lost one to Warwickshire and drew six. They were lucky to be blessed generally with good weather and firm, hard pitches. In Pakistan they are used to playing on firm, true pitches, with sunshine at their backs. In England at times they had to bat in stygian gloom and face their turning and swinging ball, conditions quite alien to those in their homeland.
Pakistan staged a wonderful recovery in the Lord's Test when all hopes were snuffed out. They owed this mainly to Hanif's marathon effort, not ignoring the part played by their bowlers. Close offered a tempting challenge which left Pakistan a target of 257 runs for victory in three and a half hours. The target was neither very easy nor very difficult. Hanif did not accept the challenge. He felt that it was a sugar-coated pill, for Close had left ample safety margin. Hanif's reluctance to go for runs was dictated by the fact that the rough spot at the pavilion end might spell doom. He, therefore, preferred the draw - which was a distinct fillip for Pakistan.
In the second Test at Trent Bridge Pakistan sowed the seeds of defeat on the first day when they scraped a tiny total of 140 runs. Torrential rains which did more damage through leaking covers proved the last straw. Saeed's stroke-filled innings were in sharp contrast to the timid batting of the other batsmen. This win in the second Test left England in an enviable position of having only to draw the third match to win the series.
At The Oval, the Pakistan batsmen were put to a searching test on the first day through having to bat in the misty, cloudy weather. Their batting was rent asunder by Higgs and Arnold again, but England batsmen too were made to struggle for runs. Not until Arnold, who was a thorn with a double-pronged attack, and Titmus wrested back the initiative, did the ultimate pattern emerge. The Pakistan batting in the second innings too was in the doldrums for some time against Higgs. Suddenly the match went crazy and Asif and Intikhab created the ninth-wicket world record of 190 runs, but England never really lost their grip and justifiably won.
Injuries to players took a heavy toll. There was an appallingly long list of the "walking wounded", so much so that in the match against Worcestershire it was difficult to field eleven men. Only at The Oval did they function at full strength and then Majid was still a non-combatant as a bowler. Saleem, the fastest of the lot, was a trier to the core. Asif exploited the new ball judiciously. Niaz, a newcomer to English conditions and working as stop gap in the second Test, proved an acquisition. Arif Butt could not exploit the conditions as a bowler of his type might have done. Intikhab made a clean sweep in county matches and Pakistan owed their victories mainly to him. Pervez Sajjad, left-arm slow, had to bear the burden of attack in the beginning, but with Intikhab in the field, he failed to win selection.
Hanif's performances proved unpredictable, with brilliance coming in patches. His slow batting and negative approach to the games brought on him the ire of the crowd and the critics. The only extenuating circumstance in his case was his enduring ability. After the removal of cartilage, he staged a stirring come back to Test cricket. Saeed, if not always in resplendent form, performed competently. Generally he thrived on firm pitches, but was reluctant to cope with swinging balls. Burki, as an opening batsman, did not suceed. The promotion to open the innings was not of his own choice, and it proved an experiment Pakistan could ill afford. Ilyas, his partner, shone spasmodically until a foot injury laid him low.
Majid won a host of admirers by his robust methods in county matches. Who will forget his fastest century of the season against Glamorgan, embellished with a fantastic ration of thirteen 6s ? The anti-climax came in Tests, for he did not prosper in the grim atmosphere. Abbas improved beyond recognition and as the days passed showed his class and grew in stature.
As a wicket-keeper, Wasim Bari was almost infallible, taking his chances without fuss. Waqar, too, did well before his hurried return to Pakistan on the death of his father. Others were just mediocre, doing nothing worthy of mention. Mushtaq could bring solidity to the batting only once and on other occasions was found struggling for runs. As a leg-spinner he was of immense value.
The invitations to four Pakistan-based cricketers from England, Mushtaq, Intikhab, Ibadulla and Nasim-ul-Ghani, although viewed with disfavour in certain quarters, could not be wholly condemned. The policy was partially successful. Having seen those cricketers in action from their early days, I found that since they had turned professional, their very approach to the game had undergone a perceptible change. That attitude smacked of safety-first. From gay cavaliers they had become plodders, eschewing all kinds of risks.
So far as England were concerned, they were shaken a little when the first Test was drawn and made sweeping changes which were dictated also by the desire to try the maximum number of players. Barrington, as always, was the scourge of Pakistan bowlers. Occasionaly slow, but seldom pedantic once set, he remained unshiftable. Graveney, whose years have not dimmed his brilliance, showed the majesty of his strokes and wrested the initiative from Pakistan when their plan went astray. d'Oliveria, a man for a crisis, plugged the breach well when anything went amiss. Higgs was the tormentor in bowling and although not endowed with excessive speed, his adherence to length and direction made things uneasy for the batsmen. Arnold and Underwood revelled mostly in conditions unpalatable to batsmen.
For England, D. B. Close as captain was able on most occasions to handle the situation from a position of authority and even could afford to gamble. On a few occasions his gambles did not come off. He was a better tactician and shrewder than his Pakistani counterapart.
Suggestions have been made that India, Pakistan and New Zealand should be given four-day tests in England instead of five. If such a move would create more interest and quicken the tempo of games, there would appear to be nothing wrong. Matches played by these countries outside England show them in truer colours, but to advocate their down-grading merely on the basis of performance in the English weather, would, I respectfully say, be less than just. All cricket-playing countries have enjoyed lean and prosperous periods and to change the pattern of Tests on that account would be a reflection on the calibre of the countries involved.
Match reports for
Tour Match: Essex v Pakistanis at Colchester, Jun 28-30, 1967
Tour Match: Kent v Pakistanis at Canterbury, Jul 1-4, 1967
Tour Match: Middlesex v Pakistanis at Lord's, Jul 5-7, 1967
Tour Match: Somerset v Pakistanis at Taunton, Jul 8-10, 1967
Tour Match: Sussex v Pakistanis at Hove, Jul 12-14, 1967
Tour Match: Surrey v Pakistanis at The Oval, Jul 15-18, 1967
Tour Match: Minor Counties v Pakistanis at Swindon, Jul 19-21, 1967
Tour Match: Warwickshire v Pakistanis at Birmingham, Jul 22-25, 1967
Tour Match: Yorkshire v Pakistanis at Leeds, Aug 2-4, 1967
Tour Match: Glamorgan v Pakistanis at Swansea, Aug 5-8, 1967
Tour Match: Gloucestershire v Pakistanis at Cheltenham, Aug 16-18, 1967
Tour Match: Worcestershire v Pakistanis at Worcester, Aug 19-22, 1967
Tour Match: Lancashire v Pakistanis at Manchester, Aug 30-Sep 1, 1967
Tour Match: TN Pearce's XI v Pakistanis at Scarborough, Sep 2-5, 1967
Tour Match: Kent v Pakistanis at Canterbury, Sep 9, 1967
England XI v Pakistan at Lord's, Sep 11, 1967
Pakistan v Rest of the World XI at Lord's, Sep 12, 1967