While England’s rivalry with Australia is well documented, and there is of course little love lost between Pakistan and neighbours India, these two nations actually have a long and controversial history at the crease. Fixtures between England and Pakistan are often a battle and have been littered with contentious incidents. These include accusations by both sides of unfair umpiring on more than one occasion, as well as finger-pointing over alleged cheating and general unsportsmanlike behaviour. There have even been legal ramifications concerning libel and more seriously, spot-fixing. All this means that mean this summer’s test series will be one the most highly anticipated international duels of the year.
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The series will stretch over four tests, taking place, respectively, at Old Trafford in Manchester, Edgbaston in Birmingham and London’s Oval, with the very first match also being hosted in the capital at the world renowned Lord’s Cricket Ground.
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Named after its founder Tom Lord, the venue at its current site in St. John’s Wood is actually the third incarnation of the ground and has been at the current location since 1813. Curiously, the ground was built on uneven land meaning the pitch has a slight but noticeable gradient – famously referred to as ‘The Lord’s Slope’. Owned officially by the Marylebone Cricket Club, Lords is also home to other famous cricketing governing bodies such as the ECB and ECC. Middlesex County Cricket Club also play their home matches there.
The venue is home to a number of specific and special features including the famous Pavilion with its Victorian design and distinctive white balconies. This traditional structure is directly contrasted at the opposite end of the ground by the instantly recognisable and futuristically designed media centre. The on-site MCC Museum is supposedly the oldest sports museum in the world, while one would have to pass through the famous Grace Gates if entering the ground via the St. John’s Wood Road entrance.
This summer’s first England-Pakistan test will be the 14th encounter between the two teams at the venue. The previous 13 meetings in North West London sees the hosts slightly shading the number of wins 4-3 with the other 6 matches ending in a draw. Although, it must be pointed out that the results at Lords haven’t necessarily always determined which team would win the series overall.
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History Of The Duel
Pakistan’s first visit came in June 1954. The tourists might have wished they hadn’t bothered as they were greeted by the infamous great British summer – there was no play for the first three days due to rain. When play eventually did begin, both teams toiled as the game ended in a draw without England even getting a chance to bat a second time.
Rain would have done Pakistan a favour on their second trip in 1962. Having been bowled out at just 100, England’s emphatic response of 370 left them with work to do. They posted a respectable 355 in their second innings but it wasn’t enough as the hosts secured the 86 they needed for victory on just the third day’s play.
Five years later in 1967, the weather again played its part as both teams struggled to make hugely significant inroads with the bat and the match was drawn. Two more draws followed in 1971 and 1974 before England secured an emphatic second test win in 1978 by an Innings and 120 runs thanks mostly to the bowling of Bob Willis – although given the damage he inflicted in the first test in Birmingham that year when his dangerous bouncer took out Iqbal Qasim, one might argue he shouldn’t have even been involved.
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That would be the last England win at their anointed home against Pakistan for 23 years. The tourists would win three of the next four encounters at the ground in 1982, 1992 and 1996 respectively. The 1987 test match would be a draw. Pakistan’s 1992 victory at Lords was a heated affair that saw the tourists accused of ball-tampering by the hosts although nothing was ever proven. English bitterness or something more sinister?
England would finally triumph again in 2001 and most recently, 2010. Sandwiching in another draw in 2006 for good measure. Unfortunately, the infamous 2010 test will go down in history as the most notorious meeting between the two. Following England’s comfortable victory in the fourth test at Lords, it later emerged that three Pakistan players had deliberately bowled ‘no balls’ as part of a betting scam and the trio would later be jailed.
Away from Lord’s, England and Pakistan have locked horns on many occasions with many different outcomes. However, whenever the two teams clash at the ‘Home of Cricket’, for better or worse, it’s often memorable. Hopefully on July 14th, the match between these two giants of the international game will be remembered for the right reasons.