With England up the Dubai creek, it didn’t take long for the ever impartial Javed Miandad to stick his oar in.
When asked about England’s capitulation in the first test, Pakistan cricket’s favourite father and son combination claimed that England didn’t deserve to be the world’s number one team.
His reason? No, it wasn’t his obsessive hatred of all things English (which came as a shock to those who have grown accustomed to Javed’s punditry over the years) it was the ‘fact’ England have enjoyed ‘home advantage’ during their ascent up the rankings. Strauss’ team, according to Javed’s ever cerebral logic, had therefore proved nothing.
When presented with statements lacking any kind of rational thought, it’s good fun to pick them apart bit by bit. So here goes ….
Contrary to common perceptions with Pakistan – well, within the Miandad household anyway – England tend to play matches all year round. Normal procedure usually involves England staging test matches at home between May and August, and then playing test series overseas in the winter.
Consequently (believe it or not) England do not enjoy ‘home advantage’ in the majority of their games. When England play test matches in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, or the West Indies, they’re are usually called ‘away’ fixtures. This is because they take place outside the UK – on pitches which are not quintessentially English.
Javed’s rant was also riddled with contradictions. No surprises there. One minute he criticised England for their apparent inability to win major series overseas ; the next he was describing how beating Australia was a holy grail of Pakistan cricket. Brilliant!
One can only assume that Javed was in a coma last winter. Or that series victories by touring teams in Australia don’t count when the team in question is England.
Although it’s sometimes hard to tell, we think Miandad was trying to point out that England haven’t quite conquered the subcontinent yet. Of course, in this respect he’s right. Our record against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka isn’t very good. However, name me an Asian team that has won in England or Australia in recent years?
The obvious point is this: there’s no outstanding team in the world today. No side is anywhere near as dominant as Clive Lloyd’s West Indies, or Steve Waugh’s Australia. However, as there’s a rankings system in place, someone’s got to be number one – and because England have won more games than anyone else in recent years, we deserve our title.
Ok, so England played badly in Dubai. So what? Even the best teams lose now and again. Lloyd’s West Indians lost the odd game, and Waugh’s Australia did too. I remember one famous occasion in particular: at Edgbaston in 1997; it was the first Ashes test when Nasser Hussain scored a double hundred …
Australia came into that game after an extended break from test cricket (sound familiar?) They were undercooked, played poorly, and got hammered. But what happened afterwards? They bounced back of course. They trounced England in the subsequent matches and proved that Edgbaston was an aberration.
The moral of the story is this … one game means very little. Has Javed forgotten that Pakistan won the Oval test match in 2010, yet lost the series convincingly? Meanwhile, it wasn’t long ago that England got hammered at Perth. Remind me what happened thereafter at Melbourne and Sydney?
Javed would do well to remember that famous old cricketing saying: ‘a closed mouth gathers no foot’.