Pakistan. Wow.

P

The world as we know it has been turned upside down. First there was Brexit. Then Trump. Then Corbyn (well, kind of). But now the biggest shock of them all: Pakistan winning the Champions Trophy.

Ok, perhaps it’s wrong to suggest that a cricket tournament is anywhere near as important as the first three upsets above, but I’m sure it will feel seismic for some hardcore (not to mention long-suffering) Pakistan supporters.

Just three weeks ago Pakistan were written off completely. They were, after all, ranked a dismal 8th in the world rankings. And let’s not forget that the Champions Trophy only has eight teams.

I remember thinking that Pakistan might not win a single game. They’d been derided as old fashioned – a team incapable of scoring 300 – and their coach, Mickey Arthur, seemed completely fed up with them.

Make no mistake about it. This Champions Trophy was supposed to be all about England … or possibly India. But the mercurial Pakistanis (forgive the cliche) weren’t having a bar of it. They completely destroyed the hosts, and then they completely destroyed their local rivals in the final.

The sight of Indian supporters streaming out of The Oval long before the end – something I thought was a poor show to be honest – must have been a most gratifying one for Pakistanis everywhere. Who needs the bloody IPL eh?!

I think this Pakistan triumph is the most surprising result we’ve had in a international 50-over competition for a long time. It probably eclipses the West Indies’ unlikely win in 2004 simply because the primary hero, Fakhar Zaman, had only played three ODIs before yesterday’s beautiful hundred.

The context of Pakistan’s victory is also remarkable. As I mentioned above, Pakistan were supposed to be an anachronism. We read so much about how modern white ball cricket has changed, and how the successful teams are ones who evolve over a period of time. Andrew Strauss might call it a ‘development pathway’.

Pakistan don’t seem to buy into all that bollocks. Then just turn up and win. And it doesn’t particularly matter how many games they lost beforehand.

Now that’s a narrative I can definitely buy into.

James Morgan

PS Just a quick note to say that I had an amazing time yesterday evening watching Lashings play Crowborough in Sussex. There were plenty of big names on show: Tino Best, Fidel Edwards, John Emburey, and Martin Bicknell to name a few.

It was quite funny watching club batsmen trying to play Best and Edwards. Their main strategy – and this seemed like thoroughly sensible ploy after their opener was hit on the helmet in the first over – was to play them from square leg. Fortunately there were no lasting injuries.

Man of the match was Chris Schofield (remember him?) who hit 60 odd. However, the bloke who made my day was the fella below, who I spotted walking around the outfield. He’s probably the most decorated 12th man in history. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr Cuthbert Gordon Greenidge MBE #legend.

12 comments

  • Haven’t watched the highlights yet, but Pakistan have certainly given India a thumping, as they did England. Like England, India have appeared to think that all they have to do is turn up, well there you go. It does seem that England can only play one way – trying to hit the ball out the ground- on flat batting tracks, while India are really not very good outside of Asia.

  • Gordon’s got the right idea, keep your head covered on a sunny day like yesterday! 🙂
    He’s the coolest man in cricket (I reckon Viv tried too hard, but I wouldn’t say it to his face). I’m very jealous of you, James!

  • I did (sort of) watch the highlights, and the two most significant contributions were probably Fakhar’s century (having been “out” off a no ball) and Amir’s first spell. Proper fast bowling. I’d say putting Pakistan in was a bad move, but the poor Indian performance may have been nerves rather than hubris. Anyway, great win for Pakistan, and a much needed boost for cricket. Wonder if the ICC is listening.

    Probably the most surprising result ever in an ODI tournament was India (or, if we’re honest, anyone other than West Indies) winning in 1983.

    Cuthbert: probably also one of the nicest (12th) men around. Saw him bat against Bucks in 1974 or 5 in the Gillette Cup. Small ground, minor counties bowlers, Greenidge and Barry Richards opening. You know where this is going. They got Barry, but not Gordon (or not before he’d made about 180).

  • I’m delighted for Pakistan and it was gratifying to see India’s over-hyped megastars cut down to size. Sarfraz’s team played brilliantly and clearly had the greater hunger, but I think the enormous magnitude of the victory was as much to do with India imploding. I’d have enjoyed a closely fought contest that went down to the wire much more. A “thumping” is inevitable once in a whole, but it’s ultimately going to constitute more a media event – a collection of instant gratification headlines – than a game of cricket that will be remembered for better reasons. Particularly when it happens just a little too often in one tournament and one team barely even turned up for the final. The game itself is so much richer when both sides are competing.

  • To lose by 150+ runs against the same opponent in a group match and then get to the final and win by a margin of 180 was the most almighty turn around, Pakistan the team of the tournament as well as the winners.

    The average score by the team batting first was up by about 40 by comparison with 2013. Run fest cricket raises expectations and it seems impacts the margins by which games are decided.

    Nice photo.

  • Can’t say the tournament is going to linger too long in the memory banks to be honest – too early in the season, too many distractions (election, Lions) and too few close matches (and I managed to miss most of the one that there was!).

    Lucky you meeting the great man! His batting and Michael Holding’s bowling hooked me on the game in 1976.

  • Please get a hat on James … these subcontinental conditions are forecast to last until Friday!

    Well done scoring a snap with the too-often forgotten man of that stellar Windies line-up. His 214* at Lord’s in the Gower declaration game in 1984 set England back for years, just when we seemed to be knocking on the door. And what made it more annoying was that he should have been playing for us!

    It’s not for an Anglo-Celt to comment on an India/Pakistan game, so I’ll leave it at that …

    Keep it going, James. Your posts brighten our days.

        • You can always tell the size of a person’s hands by looking at a photograph of someone shacking hands with Gordon.

          Yours look big James – but still dwarfed by ‘the great man’s’ mit.

          My only cricketing claim to fame is that I was Gordon’s first captain at Hampshire – the colts – when we were both 16.

          ‘Coach’, as Arthur Holt was known, came into the dressing room and said “we’ve got a new chap today. He’ll open.”

          Gordon thrashed 98 well before lunch before running himself out. Annoyed with himself? No, just sat down in the dressing room and got his copy of the Beano out.

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