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Tour and tournament reports

Pakistan in England, 1954

England's main summer tourists in 2010 will be Pakistan. Their first tour was in 1954 when, unheralded and unsung, they caused a sensation by beating England (who were about to go to Australia and successfully defend the Ashes) in the final Test at The O

Leslie Smith
In the cricket history of Pakistan the date, Tuesday, August 17, will live long. On that day at Kennington Oval, Pakistan became the only side to win a Test Match on a first visit to England. This victory also enabled them to share the rubber, for each side won one game with the other two left drawn.
Before the tour started no one could have imagined such an outcome to the Test series. Pakistan arrived in England virtually an unknown team and the strength of their extremely young side was estimated to be no better than average county standard. Following the strenuous and closely-fought games with Australia the previous summer, England were not expected to be seriously extended. In actual fact, until the final Test, they were not. In at least two of the first three games England were vastly superior, but except at Nottingham, where they won by an innings and 129 runs the weather prevented them gaining the success their cricket deserved.
The Pakistan players were the first to admit that they were fortunate to share the rubber, but few people would deny that they won The Oval Test on merit. For England, humiliating though it was at the time, defeat really meant little, but for Pakistan the win had far-reaching effects. It was estimated that interest in the game in that country would be doubled and that thousands of youngsters, inspired by the unexpected result, would become active cricketers. The outcome of this may well be seen when Pakistan next tour England in 1962.
The players were also splendid ambassadors. Rarely has a more popular set of cricketers toured anywhere, and wherever they went they made a host of friends by their modest charm and obvious eagerness to learn. It would be wrong to suggest that they were a particularly talented team, but for all their limitations they lost only three matches, one to England, another to Yorkshire, and the third against a powerful combined side in the final match, at Scarborough. Nine victories in first-class matches included that in the fourth Test Match, one against Canada and five against counties. The other eighteen games were drawn.
To achieve such a record in a season entirely unsuited to their style of cricket reflected great credit on the side. In match after match they were forced to play on soft, slow turf, generally in cold, depressing weather. The majority of the players were used to matting pitches and warm sunshine, but in most cases batsmen and bowlers adapted themselves well to the changes. One or two of the team, notably Fazal Mahmood and Hanif Mohammad, showed themselves to be in world class and several others displayed plenty of ability. Unfortunately there were not enough top-grade cricketers on whom to call and a few of the party, hard as they tried, scarcely came up to county standard. Thus A. H. Kardar, the captain, and his fellow selectors on the tour found it hard to give everyone an equal share of matches. The need to maintain a well-balanced side meant that the leading players were called upon for practically every game. In a party comprising seventeen besides Khan Mohammad, the Lancashire League cricketer who appeared occasionally, this meant that others spent long spells of inactivity, but it says much for their team spirit that at no time did they show the slightest resentment.
Imtiaz Ahmed, the wicket-keeper-batsman, played in twenty-eight of the thirty first-class matches, which accounted for his unusually high number of victims. His total of 86 created a new record for a touring wicket-keeper. All but six came while he was behind the stumps. Hanif, too, missed only two games, Waqar Hassan three and Maqsood Ahmed four. Others who received little rest were Kardar, Shuja-ud-Din and Mahmood Hussain.
The side proved consistent in batting and steady in bowling, but with plenty of scope for improvement in the field. The catching and groundwork were often weak, though on some occasions appearing quite respectable. Waqar, usually at cover, Kardar in the gully, Hanif in the deep and Imtiaz as wicket-keeper were the exceptions, being good throughout.
Fazal, the vice-captain, even apart from his magnificent twelve wickets for 99 which played such a vital part in the victory over England, revealed the attributes of a great bowler. Noted for stamina, Fazal was called upon for a tremendous amount of work in the early part of the tour and it was not surprising that he broke down. Following the match with Nottinghamshire on June 19, 21, 22 in which he took eleven wickets, Fazal bowled only in two Test Matches during the next month. Neither did he bowl in the last four games. For all that he took most wickets on the tour and he headed the averages with 77 for 17.53. Fazal, undoubtedly one of the big personalities of the season, became the first Pakistan player to find inclusion among Wisdens Five Cricketers of the Year.
Mahmood Hussain, faster than Fazal, took some time to find his form on pitches which rarely helped him. He finished in splendid fashion, dismissing twenty-one batsmen in the last four matches, and in The Oval triumph he took five wickets, four in the first innings. Shuja and Zulfiqar Ahmed were the leading spin bowlers. Shuja, a left-hander, sometimes proved costly, but he never hesitated to buy his wickets. He also bowled for extremely long spells, particularly in the absence of Fazal. The off-breaks of Zulfiqar often caused trouble because of a peculiar deceptive action. When he tried an occasional leg-break there seemed little change in his delivery and batsmen were compelled to watch the ball with care. More was expected from the young leg-spin bowler Khalid Hassan, but he never really settled down to English conditions. He appeared to bowl a little too fast and his length and direction suffered. When appearing in the second Test at Nottingham before he reached 17 years of age, Khalid Hassan became the youngest Test cricketer in history. Kardar, often troubled by strain, bowled little.
The brothers Wazir and Hanif Mohammad finished first and second in the batting averages, but Hanif was by far the best batsman in the party. At first almost purely defensive, he later blossomed into a most attractive opening batsman, bringing off delightful all-round strokes with a power his slight build belied. He made nearly 300 more runs than anyone else on the tour. Wazir broke a finger in his second innings, but recovered splendidly and became a valuable middle-of-the order batsman, with determination and strong defence which proved very necessary when too many batsmen threw away their wickets by recklessness.
Maqsood, a natural hitter with a good eye, often delighted crowds by his aggressiveness. In his first match at Worcester Maqsood hit a century in 100 minutes and another hundred came in the third game at Leicester, but afterwards he faded somewhat. Waqar, the stylist of the side, had the opposite experience. He began so badly that not until the seventh innings did he reach double figures, but thereafter he showed his best form and when set he looked a grand player, with the flowing drive his best stroke. Alim-ud-Din, regular opening partner to Hanif, started with centuries in his first two matches and scored over 700 runs by the middle of June, but was later worried by internal trouble which kept him out of the game for a month.
Imtiaz did not do as well as expected with the bat and not until the last fixture did he complete a century, but 96 on his first appearance at Lord"s showed him to be an excellent batsman. Kardar played a brilliant innings of 139 in an unsuccessful effort to save defeat from Yorkshire and a number of other useful efforts came from him, but like many of his colleagues he lacked consistency.
Kardar"s knowledge of English players and conditions, learned while at Oxford and with Warwickshire, served him well as captain. He made few mistakes and led the side in a quiet, orthodox manner. Fida Hussain, the manager, and Salah-ud-Din, his assistant, also played important roles in the success of the tour. Despite the bad weather, the Pakistanis took back a fair profit and they left behind them happy memories.