Let’s be clear about this: we did almost everything in our power to throw that game away. Pakistan, over the last year in a particular, but throughout its cricketing history, has made a habit of contriving to lose from the most dominant of positions. That we got away with it on Saturday morning doesn’t mean that our batting has emerged from the (mostly self-inflicted) psychological trauma of the last few years of Test cricket.

Like a demented 3-year-old with a pair of gardening shears, Pakistani batsmen seem to take some sort of perverse pleasure in getting to the very brink of victory, before stabbing themselves in the heart with the business-end of said shears. Today was no different. We wobbled more than a bowl of trifle on a tray that has had a discreetly placed stick of TNT go off underneath it. Only Pakistan could make chasing 180 seem daunting, and chasing 40 (with 7 wickets in hand) a virtual mountain. One shudders to think what would have happened if, with 5 runs required, Kamran Akmal had been given out when Hussey claimed the catch at gully.

Shudder.

In the end Muhammad Amir had to come out and finish the job himself, with Umar Gul of all people stroking the winning runs through cover. Hardly confidence-inspiring stuff.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has broken it’s 15-year long duck against the Aussies, and there is something to be said for the good that will do this team. In a way, it seemed that Pakistan was afraid of winning against Australia. Sydney proved that we, on some level, simply did not know how to do it. Headingley has now proven that we can. There is, of course, much to be said about having the right mentality when it comes to Test cricket in particular: the Aussies, over the last decade and a half, have been so used to winning, so efficient, so ruthless, that they now expect nothing less than victory, and much of their fighting spirit comes from this expectation. That this team is not as talented as the teams before it is almost inconsequential: the Aussies own the pitches they step out onto.

The same cannot, of course, be said for Pakistan, which generally displays all of the application and determination to win of a small cat faced with a ball of yarn. This win will not change that, but it will help. It has, of course, been a long, long time since Pakistan won a Test of consequence.

Looking forward, England come next, and their batsmen will not fall to quality swing bowling as easily as the Aussies. An interesting summer awaits – will Pakistan draw strength from the tremendous psychological boost of having finally beaten Australia to band together as a unit, or will the wheels fall off, causing said unit to explode in a shower of thwarted ambition and misplaced confidence? Who knows – demented 3-year olds are unpredictable creatures.

“I’m not going back to the pavilion. They’ll murder me!”


– el kapitan

Advertisements