Tests: England 0 Pakistan 1, ODIs: England 2 Pakistan 1

The Pakistanis in England, 1987

Graeme Wright

Having, earlier in the year, fulfilled one ambition by leading Pakistan to their first series victory in India, Imran Khan achieved another when, under his captaincy, Pakistan won their first series in England. For the 34-year-old all-rounder, in his benefit year and nearing the end of his international career, it was a memorable double. It would not be doing an injustice to his team-mates to say that, without Imran's leadership, or his ability as a player, such triumphs would not have been celebrated.

Victory over England, by an innings at Headingley with the other four Tests drawn, provided compensation for defeat by two Tests to one in 1982, Pakistan's previous tour to England. At the time Imran, rankled, had expressed his dissatisfaction with some of the umpiring; five years older, he was more circumspect. His team's manager, Haseeb Ahsan, who had come to England with the 1962 Pakistan team, was less so. He had, in 1962, suffered foot trouble in the first match and had returned home early. By way of coincidence, if somewhat surprisingly, this was Pakistan's first full tour of England since then.

The wet, often cold weather which blighted so much of the tour was ironically Pakistan's ally in the first two Test matches. Principally, it allowed Imran to recover from a stomach muscle strained while he was lifting weights two days before the Old Trafford Test. He did not bowl there, and never slipped himself at Lord's. When he did so at Headingley, feeling the ground firm under his feet, he was at once a formidable strike bowler, swinging the ball prodigiously and taking ten wickets as England were beaten in three days and 24 minutes. One of those ten was his 300th Test wicket. At Edgbaston, when Pakistan's batting showed signs of the vulnerability once associated with it, Imran kept out England's bowlers for more than two hours and then, with England needing 124 from eighteen overs, he and Wasim Akram, his young charge, bowled through to deny them. Finally, at The Oval, where England had to win to square the series, he hit his fourth Test hundred as Pakistan amassed 708, their highest total in Tests.

At the outset of the tour, when Imran was often absent from the party of players, the young team looked uncertain of purpose. Kent beat them by an innings, but with Imran in charge they humbled Essex, the county champions, by 210 runs. The arrival of Javed Miandad, the vice-captain, produced a further transformation. Miandad had stayed in Pakistan until the birth of his son: within three days of arriving in England, he celebrated with an unbeaten double-hundred against Sussex and followed it with 113, 71 not out and 68 in the Texaco Trophy series. With his ability to pick up the line quickly, his sure footwork and his placement of the ball, he looked then as if he would cause England's bowlers all kinds of problems. But it was not until the last Test, when he batted more than ten hours for 260, that England again suffered from his genius.

Instead, when it mattered, it was Salim Malik who thwarted them, reaching maturity - if not his sixth Test hundred - with an innings of 99 at Headingley that was full of authority and Test-match temperament. As much as Imran's bowling, it was essential to Pakistan's victory. Settled into the No.5 spot, he brought to the middle order a much needed solidity. After him came batting that could produce runs freely and attractively, especially against a weary attack: the gifted eighteen-year-old, Ijaz Ahmed, an exciting strokeplayer and a fascinating prospect; Salim Yousuf, at times an untidy wicket-keeper but a stylish batsman; Wasim Akram, a ferocious left-handed belter of the ball either straight or over mid wicket; and of course Imran.

At the top of the order, however, Pakistan were less sure. Injury to Ramiz Raja, who dislocated his shoulder while fielding against Northamptonshire, forced the return of Mudassar Nazar to a role as opener: initially the intention was to play him in the middle order, but his calm temperament stood Pakistan in equally good stead at the start. He averaged 57.75 in the Tests, with an invaluable hundred at Edgbaston. His partners, Shoaib Mohammad and Ramiz, who began the series as the opening pair, could not match his resolve. Shoaib, son of Hanif, betrayed in the Tests the patience that was his father's hallmark but made a good impression with hundreds in the county matches. Ramiz looked the better batsman, technically sound and with time to play his strokes or adjust to defence.

At No.3 Mansoor Akhtar, apart from a disciplined 75 at Old Trafford, disappointed in the Test matches but delighted around the counties with his wristy cover drives, quickness to pull anything short and his neat, almost classical leg-glance. He hit four hundreds and was the only tourist to exceed 1,000 runs. The little left-hander, Asif Mujtaba, who had been capped within days of his nineteenth birthday against West Indies the previous November, never came to terms with the varying pace and movement of the ball off English pitches. But his fielding, in a team of athletic fielders, was quite outstanding. In the one-day series, with no restriction on the tactical substitution of a bowler once he finished his spell, Mujtaba's was a frequent appearance.

There were times when Pakistan's bowling looked ordinary: at others it looked of the highest class. Wasim Akram, left-arm fast-medium, finished the tour with most wickets and justified all one had heard of him. From an easy, economical run-up and a whippy action, he could let slip a genuinely fast ball, especially if it was a bouncer, and at 21 he possessed impressive control of pace and movement. Mohsin Kamal, lively medium-fast, had trouble with his line at times, but when on target his late movement into or away from the bat troubled anyone not going fully forward. He developed well on tour and took the chance offered him by the injury to Saleem Jaffer. Hailed as the find of the 1986-87 season by his captain, Jaffer, a fast-medium left-armer, was troubled by a groin injury sustained during Pakistan's tour of India and played only twice on this tour. His record in one-day cricket suggested that his absence was especially felt in the Texaco Trophy series, which England won 2-1 by coming back spectacularly in the final stages of the third match.

Few opportunities were afforded to Zakir Khan, a tall, medium-pace bowler who kept a useful line and length, or to Manzoor Elahi, a stockily built all-rounder. The effort Manzoor put into his bowling did not compensate for his inability to use the ball in English conditions; with the bat, his plane was as often horizontal as vertical but he struck the ball hard. Six sixes in an over off Kirti Azad in a charity match at West Bromwich bore testimony to that. Azeem Hafeez, a left-arm medium-fast bowler, capped eighteen times, who happened to be in England on holiday, was drafted into the side midway through the tour, as was Zulqarnain, a wicket-keeper with three Test appearances. Yousuf was the only wicket-keeper in the tour party and he played in all but two of the team's 25 scheduled fixtures.

For spin, Pakistan depended on Abdul Qadir and Tauseef Ahmed, although it had been thought that the assistant manager, Iqbal Qasim, a left-arm spinner with 44 Tests' experience, might strengthen this arm of the attack. This became even more of a possibility when, for the first 50 days of the tour, the whereabouts of Abdul Qadir remained something of a mystery. Having stayed at home to look after his wife, who was ill, he eventually arrived in time for the Second Test and, with Tauseef out with a broken finger, was immediately called into action. However, it was not until the Oval Test, when he at last gave the ball time in the air, that his leg-spin and googly bowling was seen at its best. He took ten of his eleven wickets in the series there; seven in the first innings. Tauseef, the off-spinner, gave the ball quite a tweak but bowled too flat and fast for the English pitches of 1987.

The tour was not without its less salutary moments. Accusations of cheating were leveled against some of the Pakistan players following incidents in the one-day international at The Oval and the Test match at Headingley. At Old Trafford, time-wasting was the charge when, with Imran off the field for an X-ray of his thumb, only eleven overs were bowled in an hour after tea on the second day. This is a practice by no means unique to Pakistan, but the situation was exacerbated by statements to the press from both the England and Pakistan managements. In addition, Pakistan's grievance over the selection of D. J. Constant and K. E. Palmer to the Test match umpires' panel, and the TCCB's subsequent refusal to replace them, was allowed into the public domain. A less loquacious manager might have stilled some of the off-the-field controversies. Unfortunately, Haseeb, albeit a charming man, served only to fuel them.


Test matches - Played 5: Won 1, Drawn 4.

First-class matches - Played 17: Won 2, Lost 1, Drawn 14.

Wins - England, Essex.

Loss - Kent.

Draws - England (4), Glamorgan, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxford & Cambridge Universities, Surrey, Sussex, Worcestershire.

Non first-class matches - Played 8: Won 4, Lost 3, Drawn 1. Abandoned 2. Wins - England, Ireland (2), Scotland. Losses - England (2), Somerset. Draw - Minor Counties. Abandoned - Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk's XI, Derbyshire.

Match reports for

1st ODI: England v Pakistan at The Oval, May 21, 1987
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2nd ODI: England v Pakistan at Nottingham, May 23, 1987
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3rd ODI: England v Pakistan at Birmingham, May 25, 1987
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1st Test: England v Pakistan at Manchester, Jun 4-9, 1987
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2nd Test: England v Pakistan at Lord's, Jun 18-23, 1987
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3rd Test: England v Pakistan at Leeds, Jul 2-6, 1987
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4th Test: England v Pakistan at Birmingham, Jul 23-28, 1987
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5th Test: England v Pakistan at The Oval, Aug 6-11, 1987
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© John Wisden & Co