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Fifty-five years of fractiousness

Tours between England and Pakistan have rarely been devoid of drama. We look at instances starting from the unofficial MCC tour in the 1950s to Ovalgate

Rob Smyth
Rob Smyth
Pakistan's players arguing with umpire Roy Palmer after he warned Aaqib Javed for intimidatory bowling, England v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, July 7, 1992

Getting shirty: Javed Miandad argues with umpire Roy Palmer on behalf of Aaqib Javed  •  Adrian Murrell/Getty Images

Mike Gatting v Shakoor Rana, 1987-88
Infamous wags are not just the preserve of English football. Long before Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Cole and Co, Mike Gatting's finger-wagging with the Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana caused an international incident. The catalyst was absurdly trivial - Gatting moving a fielder during the bowler's run-up - but the camel's back had been weakening during a long winter and within seconds it all spilled out. Rana called Gatting a "****ing cheating ****", an observation that Gatting returned with interest. Rana refused to continue until he received a formal apology. The entire third day was lost and the tour nearly called off.
Aaqib Javed's sweater, 1992
Only in a fixture with such a history of enmity could people get shirty about a jumper. As the third Test of 1992 meandered towards a draw on the fourth evening at Old Trafford, umpire Roy Palmer warned Aaqib Javed for intimidatory bowling at Devon Malcolm. Then, when Palmer handed back Aaqib's sweater with a little too much zeal - "probably because it was caught in his belt" (Wisden) - Aaqib and his captain, Javed Miandad, took serious umbrage at the umpire, seeing Palmer's gesture as insulting and disrespectful. Aaqib was fined half his match fee and any chance of a peaceful series had gone.
Ian Botham's mother-in-law, 1983-84
In the 1980s, Ian Botham was usually the dominant figure in an England Test series, even when he was not playing. In 1983-84, after flying home from England's tour of Pakistan with a knee injury, Botham said that Pakistan was "the kind of place to send your mother-in-law for a month, all expenses paid". It was a throwaway comment but he was fined and forced to apologise, and then, eight years later, when dismissed for 0 in the World Cup final against Pakistan, Aamer Sohail asked: "Who's coming in next? Your mother-in-law?"
David Constant, 1982
A decade of endless moaning about home umpires from both sides began because of David Constant's error in the deciding Test at Headingley, when his appalling decision to give Sikander Bakht out caught off the pad arguably cost Pakistan the series. On their next tour five years later Pakistan asked that Constant not stand in the Tests. The then TCCB not only refused the request but leaked it to the press. After an inevitable controversy at The Oval involving Constant, Imran Khan and Mudassar Nazar, the Pakistan tour manager, Haseeb Ahsan, called Constant "a disgraceful man".
Chris Broad, 1987-88
The most controversial of all England-Pakistan series really came to life when, having been wrongly given out caught behind in the first Test by Shakeel Khan, Chris Broad simply refused to leave. He loitered at the crease for around a minute - it was almost a surprise the new batsman was not timed out - before Graham Gooch persuaded him to go. "On reflection I should have left him there," said Gooch later. "Then we could all have gone home."
Allegations of ball-tampering, 1992
The English cricket community could not shut up about Pakistan's ability to make the ball talk during the summer of 1992. Most gabbled excitedly about the genius of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who ran riot with their unprecedented reverse swing; others muttered about bottle tops, fingernails and ball-tampering. Matters came to a head during the fourth ODI at Lord's, when the ball was changed at lunchtime during England's innings. With speculation about ball-tampering, the ICC - fearing the sort of rumpus that was to occur 14 years later - refused to reveal any information about why the ball had been changed.
Moin Khan, 2000-01
The prospect of becoming the first Pakistan captain to lose a Test at the National Stadium in Karachi and the first to lose a series at home to England for 39 years was too much for Moin Khan, who tried to fight fate with absurd delaying tactics as England moved unexpectedly to victory on the final day. The over rate was down to nine an hour but the umpire, Steve Bucknor, ensured justice was done by playing on in near-darkness. Thanks to Bucknor's common sense, this became the controversy that never was.
Bob Willis v Iqbal Qasim, 1978
A night-watchman lingering like a bad smell precipitated a major row in 1978, when, in pre-helmet days, Bob Willis felled Iqbal Qasim with a nasty short ball, forcing him to retire hurt. The playing conditions of the day stated: "Captains must instruct their players that the fast, short-pitched ball should at no time be directed at non-recognised batsmen." The England captain, Mike Brearley, tried to play down the incident, but the TCCB reminded him of his responsibilities and said it "bitterly regretted" what had occurred. Wisden described England's tactics as "unnecessarily ruthless".
Shahid Afridi, 2005-06
After a few relatively harmonious series normal service was resumed in the second Test. First Steve Harmison controversially ran out Inzamam-ul-Haq - who was taking evasive action and so should not have been given out. Then, while everyone was distracted by the explosion of a gas canister in a soft-drinks machine, Shahid Afridi decided to practise his Saturday Night Fever moves on a good length. As plans go, it was more Baldrickian than Machiavellian: he was caught on camera and banned for one Test and two ODIs.
Darrell Hair v Pakistan, 2006
So much for neutral umpires being the answer to the problems in this rivalry. When Darrell Hair punished Pakistan for ball-tampering on the fourth day they refused to reappear after tea. Hair and Billy Doctrove decided the match had been forfeited - the first in 1814 Tests and 129 years - but the end of the match was the start of a row. Eventually Pakistan were acquitted of ball-tampering and Hair, who had offered to resign from the Elite Panel in exchange for $500,000 compensation, was banned from umpiring international matches, although he did briefly return to Test cricket two years later.
Idris Begh, 1955-56
A rivalry that has been habitually in need of cooling down came to life precisely because of a bucket of cold water. In 1955-56, Donald Carr's MCC side toured Pakistan and were unhappy with the umpiring of Idris Begh. During the third Test, Begh was taken back to the MCC hotel and drenched by a bucket of cold water. The MCC players said it was a prank and that Begh had come of his own accord. He said he had been kidnapped. Either way the tour was almost cancelled and the seeds of mistrust had been sown.

Rob Smyth is the author of The Spirit of Cricket - What Makes Cricket the Greatest Game on Earth. This article was first published in the August 2010 issue of the Wisden Cricketer. Subscribe here