Cow Corner

Shambolic Pakistan shamed at Lord’s

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It was a mournful, sombre atmosphere at cricket's HQ as a humiliated Pakistan completed their hapless capitulation in the fourth Test, overstepping the mark of irresponsible batting in the process.

The tourists recorded their heaviest ever defeat in a Test match as England's number nine Stuart Broad ended up scoring more runs in his one knock than the entire Pakistan side could muster in either of their two innings.

While England were busy swiping a staggeringly spineless Pakistan batting line-up aside, there was an unavoidable elephant in the Lord's Long Room - the shocking allegations of spot fixing within the tourists' ranks.

A debatably respectable red-top printed so-called "evidence" that Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif deliberately bowled calculated no balls to order, with Pakistan skipper Salman Butt and serial fumbler Kamran Akmal also implicated in "the most sensational sporting scandal ever".

Of course, it is all, as yet, unproven, but the allegations of Aamer's involvement were all the more startling given that, until recently, the prodigious 18-year-old thought 'spot fixing' was a type of acne treatment.

Asif has clocked up almost as many bans and cricketing indiscretions as Jesse 'The Fridge' Ryder, but the shock and sadness of his reputed involvement was still equally as alarming as young Aamer's.

It is frankly irrelevant if Akmal took cash for his alleged involvement as he would have dropped the wads from his grasp anyhow, but captain Butt's role, if proved, would be perhaps the most sickening.

Predictions were rife as to the decibels of the boos which would ring out around Lord's as the players took to the field, but a stunned Lord's offered nothing more than a muted reception in response to the controversy.

Pakistan hardly helped themselves as they sat glumly on their balcony and in the visitors' dressing room without feeling the need to have any form of a warm-up before the start of the day's play. The tourists' preparations were non-descript, and their mood was about as abject as the batting display which followed.

Butt, Aamer and Asif all had their mobile phones confiscated by police probing the case to scupper Paul Collingwood's proposal of an England v Pakistan golf social in the afternoon.

Umar Akmal attempted to give Pakistan's defeat some semblance of respectability with a dashing 79 and a more discerning application of sun block, but it was futile in the context of a pathetic demise from his team-mates.

Pakistan reportedly heard of the allegations at 18:15 last evening, and Andrew Strauss revealed that his side felt "hollow" after wrapping up the win in clinical fashion during the morning session.

The sight of the tourists' manager Yawar Saeed and his assistant Shafqat Ranan poring over the sordid details of the allegations on the team's balcony while their batsmen formed an orderly procession out in the middle encapsulated the sorry farce the fourth day deteriorated into.

England clinched a 3-1 series win in their final Test match before the Ashes in November but, with the finale shrouded in controversy, stiff whisky replaced the celebratory champagne with the game's reputation left in tatters.

SHOT OF THE DAY: With Swann searching for his ninth wicket of the match, Akmal gave the spinner every chance by taking an extravagant and ungainly swipe across the line to dispatch a fine delivery into the Pimms tent over square leg.

STAT OF THE DAY: But for the electrifying 79 from Akmal, Pakistan would have suffered the ignominy of becoming the first side since New Zealand back in 1958 to be bowled out for under 100 in both innings of a Lord's Test.

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: I don't think that much can be taken from this series for England in view of recent events. How else can the incredibly erratic performance of Pakistan be explained other than some skulduggery was afoot. The repercussions from this series are going to be felt for a long, long time I am sad to say. (Mano de Dios gives his gloomy, but understandable, assessment.)

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