First Test Match

England v Pakistan 2001

Julian Guyer

Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: R. J. Sidebottom, I. J. Ward.

Sustained inaccuracy and total breakdown on Saturday afternoon from usually reliable Lord's performers marred this match. Clearly, it was time for MCC's electronic scoreboards to be centrally contracted. Gough and Caddick, who between them took 16 for 207, were persuasive advocates for the virtues of being fresh for the big occasion. This was the 12th time in their 24 Tests together that England had won, a testament to their combined potency and a record that, temporarily at least, compared favourably with Trueman and Statham (13 from 35). They were ably supported by assured close catching, notably from Thorpe, while a solid all-round batting effort gave the new-ball duo the platform they required.

As usual, fortune favoured the victors. Law 13 certainly proved unlucky for Pakistan when, after Thursday's total washout, the follow-on lead was reduced from 200 runs to 150; as it was, they struggled to close the gap to 188. Overcast skies had encouraged Waqar Younis to bowl first, and the England openers received some testing overs from him and Wasim Akram that they did well to survive. Contrastingly, Shoaib Akhtar, playing his first Test in more than a year after injuries and investigations into his action, looked short of match fitness. Abdur Razzaq made the initial breakthrough, but it was Azhar Mahmood, the sixth bowler used, who stood out. Bowling from close to the stumps, he pitched the ball up, giving it every chance to swing and seam around the batsmen's off stump; his whippy action meant he was just quick enough not to be hit off his good length.

Vaughan, promoted to No. 3 ahead of Hussain, struck 26 elegant runs in boundaries before Mahmood "strangled" him down the leg side. And when the same bowler ended Atherton's 200th Test innings, bowling him between bat and pad for 42, England were 114 for three. Then came the stand of the match, a mixture of attack and attrition. Thorpe did most of the former, Hussain the latter, and, as they added 132 in 46 overs, Pakistan had cause to regret following England's example in omitting a specialist spinner. Thorpe moved serenely to 50 for the 36th time in Tests but, frustratingly, there was no ninth hundred.

His exit brought in Ryan Sidebottom, making his debut only because of back injuries to Yorkshire colleagues White and Hoggard. He and his father, Arnie, were the tenth such pairing to play for England but, with his corn-dolly locks tumbling from under his helmet, hair rather than heredity informed most discussion of the night-watchman. More importantly, he saw out the day. Even better for England was that Hussain was still there, too, his near-four-hour vigil yielding a gutsy 53 not out. But their progress was checked the following morning when Shoaib fractured the captain's right thumb. Next over, clearly in pain, he was caught behind off Mahmood for 64. Two years earlier at Lord's, he broke his right middle finger while fielding against New Zealand, and in June 2000 he broke his left thumb fielding for Essex.

Few England batsmen have enjoyed the luxury of playing their first innings with more than 300 on the board. Even so, Ian Ward was admirably serene. Only the arrival of No. 11 Gough prompted rashness, rather as the appearance of Gough's fast-bowling partner, Caddick, prompted indiscretion from Pakistan's top order. Striding in from the Nursery End so the Lord's slope complemented his out-swing, he struck with his third ball, Salim Elahi edging to first slip for a duck. Fellow-opener Saeed Anwar followed soon afterwards, also well taken by Atherton, this time off Gough. When Caddick had Inzamam-ul-Haq and Razzaq caught behind, Pakistan were 60 for four in 18 overs. But without White, the gap between the strike bowlers and the support looked worryingly wide. Left-armer Sidebottom bowled as if conscious that, like his father, this might be his only Test, while Cork frequently pitched too short.

Pakistan lost Yousuf Youhana first thing on Sunday morning, but Younis Khan, severe on anything short and seizing on anything overpitched, remained defiant. His fifty came from 78 balls, including eight fours; one, straight-driven off Caddick, was as good as any shot in the match. It was a surprise to see him misjudge a rare good-length ball from Cork, and with him went Pakistan's chance of avoiding the follow-on. Gough mopped up the tail in four balls either side of lunch, becoming in his 50th Test the eighth England bowler to take 200 Test wickets when he dismissed Rashid Latif; his five for 61 gave him the place on the Lord's honours board that he craved even more.

An excited crowd was lifted further when Thorpe, diving full length to his right at third slip, took a superlative one-handed catch off Caddick's fifth ball to dismiss the luckless Elahi for a pair. Despite the disappointment of three near dismissals, Caddick never flagged and deservedly claimed the match award after twice routing the top order. Only Razzaq showed any inclination to hit back. Wasim and Waqar, in what seemed certain to be their last Lord's Test, tried to resist but were powerless. When Cork finished the match by dismissing Waqar, England had taken 16 wickets in the day. Their overall performance - their first innings victory over Pakistan since Ian Botham's one-man show at Lord's 23 years earlier - was worthy of their 100th Test here and the first of the new World Test Championship. On the debit side, Thursday's abandon-ment had cost £400,000 in ticket refunds, and yet again revenue was lost from the lack of a fifth day. Wise heads agreed that things could not go on like this, but, dared their supporters hope, could England?

Man of the Match: A. R. Caddick. Attendance: 80,559; receipts £1,661,047. Close of play: First day, No play; Second day, England 254-4 (Hussain 53*, Sidebottom 4*); Third day, Pakistan 115-4 (Yousuf Youhana 26*, Younis Khan 32*)

© John Wisden & Co
 
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