England Win and Ridiculous Conspiracies

23 09 2010

It is with some relief that we write these words: the England Pakistani series is over. What was an intriguing series to begin with has gone through the gamut of emotions  and remarkably ended in a tense, exciting and winner takes all scenario. What has not been so pleasant, quite apart from the claims of spot fixing, has been the increasingly aggressive stance from Pakistani supporters as they begin to subscribe to the ‘worlds against us’ conspiracy theory.

Yesterdays game was, for the most part, a very close affair until Swann turned the screw in the 28th over of the Pakistani innings. The Pakistani bowling attack again served notice of how dangerous it could be, the old man of the side, Shoaib Akhtar, showing immense bravery to continue bowling with a side injury and pick up 3-40. For a large part of the innings England were only one or two wickets away from collapsing almost entirely.

The English saviour, once again, was Eoin Morgan – a man who has done more for the England ODI team in turning them into a consistent and dangerous unit than arguably any other. Without the sheer class and calmness of Morgan; without his ability to work the strike and hit the gaps; without his talent to shift in gears and hit boundaries almost at will late in the innings – England would have in all likelihood, here and on increasingly numerous other occasions since his debut, folded – whether chasing or setting a target. Up until now Morgan has mostly produced these outstanding innings batting second – an easier task simply because you know exactly what you have to do – but yesterday, batting first, it was up to him to set the pace and judge what a reasonable score was. Once again he performed brilliantly and it was almost solely down to him that what turned out to be a very testing target was set.

In the Pakistani reply Akmal and Hafeez once again set off like a rocket, something that has been a feature of this series, before getting bogged down in the middle overs. Two wickets in an over, one a brilliant catch by Paul Collingwood, from Broad slowed the Pakistanis although it was the introduction of Swann that really set the cat among the pigeons. The ball in his first over to defeat Fawad Alam was breathtaking and we suspect would have got far finer players than the Pakistani number five out. The death knell of the Pakistani innings however was in the 28th over when Swann removed Yousuf and Afridi in consecutive balls – Yousuf’s in particular being another exceptionally fine bit of bowling. Rameez Raja on the Test Match Special commentary summed Swann up perfectly; “I never thought that watching off spin could be so interesting”. There are few finer sights in cricket than watching a fast bowler steaming in and causing havoc – i.e. Allan Donald at Edgaston 1998, Curtly Ambrose at Trinidad in 1994 to name but a couple – but one of them is definitely a top class spinner weaving his web. Edge of your seat stuff as you wonder whether this one will be caught at slip, beat the bat or simply castle the hapless batsman.

One regrettable aspect of this series was the lack of UDRS technology as there were on a three or four occasions fairly glaring errors made by the on field umpires. Whilst this is part and parcel of cricket, sadly these all went one way and have only served to fan the conspiracy theories surrounding Pakistani cricket as put forward by an increasing number of their supporters and the administration. The Compulsive Hooker has always been a little suspicious of technology as in our view we believe it is important not to devalue the umpires on the pitch – something that is already happening unfortunately with players increasingly showing small amounts of dissent and questioning decisions. However with the glaring and obviously wrong decision against Kamran Akmal last night we feel that perhaps it should be made a global standard by the ICC for all games.

Fortunately the particular decision against Akmal,whilst obvious in its incorrect nature, would have been unlikely to have altered the end result of the game. When he was dismissed Akmal had already become very bogged down and was struggling to push the scoring along after what had been a flying start and, considering the deficit at the end was 121 runs, it is unlikely that he would have made that much of a difference. In the end the class of Swann and Morgan told and England, rightly, were victors in the series.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the scoreboard of yesterdays game; please click here.

What is imperative now upon conclusion of the series is that the PCB and the ICC conduct a full, thorough and above all totally honest search into these allegations as well as fixing in general. Sadly up until now the PCB, and Ijaz Butt in particular, have appeared to be, if not dishonest, certainly disingenuous and more likely to try and save face by going on the attack than apparently willing to try and clean up the game. It seems obvious to most (and by most we mean pundits and experts within the game rather than the armchair supporters such as ourselves) that something is going on. For any Pakistani’s reading this we also realise that these issues are unlikely to be concentrated solely with your national team and so the ICC needs to take charge and bring any wrong doers to justice, whatever their nationality.

We have fallen out of love with cricket a little bit in these last few weeks and we know that we are not the only ones. It will be with some relief that the Ashes will arrive as with that series at least we can be reasonably sure that nothing untoward will be going on. The tour squad is announced today at 1:30pm and we are already feeling the first tingles of excitement at what is likely to be a closely fought and brilliant series.

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2 responses

23 09 2010
James Parrett

Great piece, Brad.

Fear not, the Ashes are only 2 months away…!

23 09 2010
Jonathan

Nice article Brad; where others may have taken the opportunity to vent you took the objective route, more power to you!

There were a couple of shockers from the umpires last night.

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