The Pakistanis in England, 2003

Lawrence Booth

This was an international tour of high speed, but low relevance. The Pakistanis were in and out in little more than a fortnight, during which they played four warm-up games and three one-day internationals, the NatWest Challenge, a competition introduced at the request of Duncan Fletcher, who was concerned at his players' lack of one-day nous. Both teams had skulked disappointedly away from the World Cup in South Africa three months earlier, and though Pakistan had not in modern times been short of one-day match practice, England were now also intent on ensuring that they would not be accused of that mistake before the 2007 event.

The Challenge was a new competition won by a new captain leading a new team. And thanks to murderous batting from Marcus Trescothick, Boy's Own bowling from James Anderson, and an ounce of luck, the reshaped team under Michael Vaughan were able to kickstart his captaincy with a trophy.

Pakistan were in the process of rebuilding too, having dropped eight senior players after an even more harrowing World Cup. Even so, the 12 they picked here still started the series with an average of 71 one-day caps each. Only Darren Gough in the England squad could beat that figure. In the event, England were thankful for the experience of one of their older troupers: Trescothick smashed 212 runs - more than twice as many as his nearest rival, Mohammad Hafeez - with a strike-rate of 94, and settled the series with a century at Lord's. England's fielding, though, was boosted by the new brigade, and looked sharper than it had for years. The players even looked as if they were enjoying themselves.

Match reports for

1st Match: England v Pakistan at Manchester, Jun 17, 2003
Report | Scorecard

2nd Match: England v Pakistan at The Oval, Jun 20, 2003
Report | Scorecard

3rd Match: England v Pakistan at Lord's, Jun 22, 2003
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co