Third Cornhill Test



Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: England - G.Fowler, V.J.Marks.

With Willis, having recovered from his neck injury, back in command England gained the victory they needed to take their second series of the summer. It was accompanied, all the same, by another undistinguished batting stumble which came close to allowing Pakistan to create a piece of cricketing history with their first success in a series against England. Requiring 219 to win, which should have been a formality once they had moved to 168 for the loss of only Tavaré, England suddenly turned their innings into a desperate scramble on the fourth evening when five wickets went down for the addition of 21 runs before Botham gratefully accepted a bad light offer to calm English nerves. Botham also went on the final morning before the last 29 runs were secured.

England's eventual victory to take the series 2-1 was accompanied, as at Edgbaston, by claims from Pakistan's captain, Imran Khan, that umpiring errors, one of which, he said, allowed Gower to survive a catch behind in the early stages of his first-innings 74, cost his side the match and the series. If errors were made, the main reason why Pakistan failed to take an exciting and fascinating series was their own reckless batting, particularly in their second innings when conditions were at their least difficult on a wicket which encouraged seam bowling throughout the five days.

It was easy to understand Imran's disappointment after his own heroic efforts with both bat and ball which were to earn him the Man of the Match award for the second time in the series as well as the Man of the Series award. Apart from his readiness to criticise the umpires and his failure to curb the excessive appealing from his team, he had a magnificent series, his first as his country's captain.

Pakistan's aspirations at Headingley were handicapped before the start when injury ruled out three of their quicker bowlers, forcing them to enrol the portly Ehtesham-ud-Din from the Bolton Association side, Daisy Hill, as Imran's new-ball partner. Pakistan made two other changes following their Lord's victory, Sikander and Majid both being in the side. England abandoned the policy adopted in the first two Tests of being without a recognised opening batsman by awarding a first cap to the Lancashire left-hander, Graeme Fowler. Marks replaced Hemmings and made his Test début.

Imran having won the toss and chosen to bat, Pakistan's first innings contained only one partnership of note; that of 100 between Mudassar and Miandad for the third wicket after Mohsin and Mansoor had gone to the new ball. With only four specialist bowlers at his command, and the pitch of little help to spin, Willis used himself and Botham in short bursts while Jackman courageously kept the other end going for 4 hours 35 minutes, broken only by lunch and tea. Once Botham had removed Mudassar to make Pakistan 119 for three, England made good progress, Jackman being rewarded with three wickets from his 37-over spell. Among them was that of Majid, who became the leading Test run-maker in Pakistan's history during his innings of 21, overtaking Hanif's total of 3,915. Pakistan needed the steadying influence of an unbeaten 67 by Imran to climb to 275, fewer than Imran wanted but still beyond the capabilities of England once he had exchanged his bat for the ball and taken five for 49 in 25 overs.

England's first innings, like Pakistan's, contained only one productive partnership in which Botham gave a glimpse of what he had achieved on the same ground the year before against Australia. In a stay of just an hour he made 57 out of a stand of 69 with Gower, destroying the leg-spin bowling of Qadir before falling to a fine running catch by Haroon, fielding as substitute for Ehtesham, who had pulled a muscle. Imran removed Tavaré, Gatting and Lamb in nine deliveries, and England's plight would have been worse if Qadir's appeal for a catch behind off Gower, when the batsman was 7, had been rewarded. Gower survived, however, to lend support to Botham and to bat altogether for 234 minutes.

Pakistan's first-innings lead of 19 was soon forgotten when they batted again. By the end of Willis's opening over Mohsin and Mudassar were both out, Mohsin caught behind driving loosely against the first ball and Mudassar edging the fifth and his own first, a rising delivery, to third slip. For a while Miandad entertained and threatened in his second half-century of the match, but attempting a full-blooded drive he was caught behind. It was the very stroke he had urged his partner Mansoor to ignore during their third-wicket stand of 78. Miandad was the first of five victims for Botham, Imran the last, out after having seen Sikander given caught at short leg when, as was clearly evident from television pictures, his bat missed the ball. With help from Qadir and Sikander, Imran again played with a discipline lacking from his senior batsmen.

Fowler and Tavaré, left to negotiate the first nine overs of England's second innings on the third evening, took the score into three figures when, after the weekend, the match was resumed. While Tavaré played his familiar deadpan role, Fowler, driving superbly, reached his first Test half-century just before the third of the day's brief stoppages for rain. He lost Tavaré soon afterwards, but Gatting took over and victory looked safe that day when they reached 168. By then the light had deteriorated, but the batsmen twice spurned the chance of going off, Fowler having settled into his role and Gatting mindful of an indifferent forecast for the final day. Although the decision was undoubtedly right at the time it was to have a disastrous effect later. With Ehtesham unable to bowl, Imran turned to Mudassar to fill in, and as in the second Test at Lord's the opening batsman rewarded him.

Mudassar's medium pace accounted for Fowler, caught behind after a 262-minute stay which included eleven boundaries. Lamb and Gower soon followed, giving Mudassar a three for 11 spell in sixteen balls, and when Gatting and Randall both fell leg-before to Imran, England had slipped to 189 for six, victory still 30 runs away. However, the overnight break gave England the chance to escape from the panic of the previous evening and only 50 deliveries were needed on the last morning to secure the additional 29 runs required, despite the loss of Botham to the eleventh ball. Marks and Taylor saw England home, although not without alarms. The 42 extras in England's second innings undermined Pakistan's stirring effort.

Receipts were £189,800 and the total attendance 50,300.

© John Wisden & Co