Friday, 21 February 2014

The Beef with Pakistan

Now before anyone reads this and puts a fatwah or religious death sentence on me, I am merely a cricket writer, and a crap one at that. Salman Rushdie I most certainly am not, and this is The Middle Stump and not the Satanic Verses. Nor do I have anything against Pakistanis. I have played with many over the years in club cricket, and have enjoyed being their team mate. However, in our radio show Pushing the Boundaries (out next week) we discussed the 1992 World Cup final and I touched on the war between England and Pakistan that has continued for years. I'm sure you will hear all about that tournament on these pages in the next few days, but here I thought I would write about the rows, the hatred, the controversies and the arguments that have scarred virtually every series we have played against this nation for over thirty years.

Gatt and Rana clash in Pakistan
Back in the seventies, many Pakistanis would regularly ply their trade here and became very popular at their certain counties. Down in Gloucestershire, Zaheer Abbas became the stuff of legend as he would regularly bury the bowling of many a county trundler along with his sidekick, Sadiq Mohammed. Like an Asian Fred and Rose West, no one fancied a visit to this part of the world with these two in town. Surrey had the avuncular Intikhab Alam and Younis Ahmed, whilst on the south coast down in Sussex Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, the scourge of England in the 1992 World Cup final, became as popular in Brighton in the past as no doubt the likes of Tom Daley have become thirty years on. Sarfraz Nawaz and Mushtaq Mohammed at Northants were another pair that spring to mind.

So it was strange that the war with Pakistan which is still simmering to this very day, started back then. Well to my mind it did, although it may have been earlier. I believe it stems from Bob Willis rearranging the teeth of Iqbal Qasim, now a selector for Pakistan. Qasim was a rabbit, in a brontosaurus like Pakistan tail who would bat at nine. As night watchman he had held England up for forty minutes before Willis went around the wicket and peppered him for fun. This was deemed out of order. There was no "broken fuckin' arm" back then to tail enders and bouncing them was a strict no no. So when Willis hit him, causing him to lose the amount of claret that no doubt Vanessa Feltz loses on a monthly basis, Pakistan were furious. Added to the fact that Imran apart, their attack was about as quick as the afore mentioned Ms Feltz' metabolism so they couldn't exactly get their own back.

England players gather round Iqbal Qasim after he was struck by a Bob Willis bouncer, England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Leeds, June 6, 1978
Iqbal Qasim...more claret than a Bordeaux vineyard

Next time they toured here was in 1982. Mudassar Nazar had a decent series with both bat and ball, but pissed off with the constant theatrical appealing from Abdul Qadir and Co., David Constant just refused to give them any sort of decision. This led to allegations that Connie was a racist and like Divine Brown, after her tryst with Hugh Grant, a man who has cricketing links to the female partners of both Imran and Warnie, it left a sour taste in the mouth.

Ian Botham then weighed into the argument by not touring Pakistan in 1984, and saying it was the sort of place you would want to send your mother in law. Now Beefy was only joking and having a bit of fun, but it went down about as well with the Pakistanis as Gillian Taylforth on the A1 before she was stopped by the Old Bill, allegedly comforting her boyfriend's pancreatitis. Talking of interruptions, Gatt was then next to tour Pakistan and in a warm up game he was moving the field when the bowler was running in. Stopped by the umpire, Shakoor Rana who then called Gatt a "fucking cheating cunt" allegedly, England refused to play on amidst a finger wagging rumpus. After a diplomatic hoo har, a letter of apology from Gatt and a 'hardship bonus' from the TCCB the tour just about continued.

Pakistan toured here later in the decade and a one day international at Edgbaston seriously kicked off as England and Pakistan fans clashed in the old Rea Stand. Like football back in this era, drunken thuggery had come to cricket. David Warner was not the first to get involved in a cricket related punch up in this city.

Beefy about to get his 'mother in law' sledge

The 1992 World Cup arrived and Pakistan won, although after Beefy was out for a duck, Aamir Sohail advised him to go and get his mother in law out to bat. Botham, to this day denies getting a touch on it. The fact that the ball had started to bend around corners half way through the second innings still rankles with Englishmen to this day. Hmmmm, no comment.

The next battle was in the High Court. In the red corner Botham and Lamb, and in the blue one Imran. The case had arisen because Oxford educated Imran had implied that Beef and Lamb were of inferior social standing, that Botham was a ball tamperer and they were racist. Amazingly Imran won, costing the two Englishmen half a million quid in legal fees. Pakistan seemed to be winning both on and off the pitch in this era.

Things then went quiet for a while, although these two haven't met so much in recent years. Fast forward to 2005, and you had Shahid Afridi pirouetting on a length after a gas canister exploded in Karachi, much to the chagrin of Kevin Pietersen. Afridi was banned for his Robin Cousins impersonation.

Afridi...banned for doing the triple salchow mid pitch

When Pakistan came here the following year, the series, along with Darell Hair's umpiring career was aborted by Pakistan refusing to continue at the Oval due to being docked five runs for ball tampering. This was merely the aperitif for the following tour. Mohammed Asif, Mohammed Amir and their skipper Salman Butt all received a little holiday, courtesy of the Queen of England for their part in spot fixing. Throw into the mix an English coach in charge of Pakistan dying in mysterious circumstances, a few years prior to this and the links between the two countries are explosive.

So this war has gone on for years. What happens when Pakistan and England meet next time? One thing is for will be controversial.


  1. Fantastic scene in cricket history. I think this war is not for long time. Thanks for share..
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  2. I just want to say : why do I not find this article sooner ! thankyou so much!
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