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8 controversies in England vs Pakistan Tests

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England_Pakistan_Controversies_CricketThe late Richie Benaud, doyen of cricket commentary, once called cricket the most controversial game of all. This statement from the irrepressible Benaud might dismay some cricket fans, but it has a lot of truth to it. Over the years, cricket has been associated with gambling, spot-fixing, match-fixing, ball tampering, sledging, disrespect toward umpires, dalliances of a non-platonic nature, and even the odd verbal tirade and physical skirmish. However, the popularity of the sport is such that it manages to shrug off these incidents.

Pakistan is a country that produces exceptionally talented cricketers who have thrilled cricket fans with their skills. During their 1992 World Cup winning campaign, Ian Chappell called their team a skilled rabble.

When Tests are staged between two competitive teams there is bound to be the odd incident as emotions take over and tempers flare, with each player wanting to win for their country.

England are facing Pakistan in the 2nd of a 2 Test series at home, so let us relive some of the most controversial incidents between the two teams in Tests.

Ian Botham and the mother-in law comment

During England’s tour of Pakistan in 1983-84, Ian Botham had to fly home due to an injury. In those days, the poor standard of the hotels in the sub-continent, unrelenting heat, supposedly biased umpiring and lack of positive results on the field led to verbal outbursts as an outlet for a player’s frustration.

On returning to England, Botham made a scathing comment saying that Pakistan is a place where you should send your mother-in-law for a month with all expenses paid. This led to outrage in Pakistan. At the Hilton hotel, where the English team were staying, the staff threatened to go on strike. Botham apologized and was also fined for his comment.

In the 1992 World Cup final, when Botham was dismissed by Wasim Akram, Aamir Sohail taunted Botham by asking whether the next batsman in was Botham’s mother-in law.

Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana

In general, once the bowler starts his run-up, fielders can walk a few paces in front but are not allowed to change positions, even if asked to do so by the captain. All changes can only be done prior to the bowler starting his run-up.

Mike Gatting, the England captain, was involved in an altercation with the Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana in 1987. Rana claimed that Gatting was altering his field without letting the batsmen know. He stopped play, walked up to Gatting and called him a cheat, with a few expletives thrown in for good measure. Gatting, not one to take a backward step, retaliated.

Both parties stood toe to toe, wagging their fingers at each other. It was a bad look for cricket and Rana refused to officiate further until he received an apology. The entire 3rd day’s play was lost and the incident nearly led to the abandonment of the tour.

In those days, there was no official code of conduct for players; incidents of boorish and loutish behavior were dealt with on a case by case basis. This incident, among others, led to the rule of having umpires from neutral nations officiate international matches.

Chris Broad refusing to walk on being given out

During the same Test series, Chris Broad was wrongly given out caught behind by umpire Shakeel Khan. Broad was so incensed by the decision that he refused to leave the crease and kept shaking his head, saying that he wasn’t going to leave for the pavilion. He loitered at the crease for nearly a minute before the non-striker Graham Gooch persuaded him to leave.

This was shocking disrespect for the umpire’s decision and would have had serious consequences in today’s day and age. Ironically, Chris Broad is now a match referee.

Aaqib Javed’s sweater incident

During the 3rd Test between the two sides at Old Trafford in 1992, there was not much excitement in the contest which was petering out towards a draw. Aaqib Javed was warned by umpire Roy Palmer for intimidatory bowling towards England tail-ender Devon Malcolm. At the end of the over when Aaqib went to collect his sweater from Palmer, he felt that the umpire was very harsh in handing the bowler his sweater.

It was probably an innocent mistake from the umpire as the sweater was stuck in his belt. However, both Aaqib and his captain Javed Miandad felt that he was being disrespectful to the bowler and took offense. Aaqib was fined half his match fee.

Ball-tampering allegations against Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis

In 1992, reverse swing wasn’t known to the world at large. Most people felt that only the new ball could swing in the conventional manner. But Wasim and Waqar managed to get even the old ball to swing at pace and the English batsmen were left clueless.

During the 4th ODI of the tour at Lords, the ball was changed during England’s innings and the ICC aggravated the situation by refusing to divulge the reason. The English press launched a scathing attack against the duo, which took some of the sheen off Pakistan’s well-deserved series win.

Moin Khan’s delaying tactics in Karachi

Pakistan had never lost a Test at the National Stadium in Karachi and had never lost a Test series to England at home. In 2000, England were in a dominant position on the final day and appeared on course for victory.

Moin Khan tried to stave off defeat by slowing down the over rate and then claiming that the light was so bad his fielders could not see the ball. Steve Bucknor turned down Moin’s pleas and England chased down the target in near darkness.

The ball tampering fiasco in the Oval

During the 4th day of the 4th Test at the Oval in 2006, neutral umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove accused the Pakistani team of ball-tampering and awarded England 5 penalty runs. Pakistan refused to take the field after tea as a protest. The umpires decided that Pakistan had forfeited the match and awarded the Test to England.

This was the first time that a Test had been forfeited in 129-year history of Test cricket. Match referee Ranjan Madugalle acquitted captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and the Pakistani team of ball-tampering, but banned the Pakistani skipper for 4 ODIs for bringing the game into disrepute.

In July 2008, the ICC decided to change the result of the Test match to a draw but in February 2009 they reinstated the original decision of an England victory. This remains the only forfeiture in Test history.

The spot-fixing scandal of 2010

During a Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Pakistani bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were accused of bowling deliberate no-balls for money in collusion with their skipper Salman Butt. In February 2011, the ICC banned Butt for 10 years (5 suspended), Asif for 7 years (2 suspended) and Amir for 5 years. In addition to the sanctions imposed by the ICC, in November 2011, Butt, Asif and Amir were handed jail terms of 30 months, 1 year and 6 months respectively.

 

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