By Shoaib Ahmed
Pakistan cricket team led by A.H. Kardar landed in the mother country for their eagerly awaited, first-ever official tour. Kardar carried years of county cricket experience with him, which proved to be an asset as the conditions in England were completely alien for the visitors. No miracles were expected from the new entrants and none were enacted until the fourth and last Test, which was played at The Oval.
Tourist’s record against the counties was nothing less than enviable as they lost only one first-class match against Yorkshire. In Test matches however, the story was starkly different as the young and youthful Pakistanis failed to combat the pace-cum-spin attack comprising of Alec Bedser, Brian Statham, John Wardle, and Appleyard (the last named surprisingly played in just one Test despite bowling his team to victory). The first three Tests were heavily tilted in favour of MCC. That the end result after these matches showed a 1-0 scoreline can only be attributed to poor weather conditions than any other factor.
Such one-sided was the contest till the commencement of the last Test that no one can mistake the English from being a bit over-confident. There were also some partisan voices in the press, who opined that Pakistan was granted Test match status prematurely. So optimistic were they of their series victory that echoes were heard that the England team management were taking this last match as a practice match for the coming more crucial Ashes series.
When Frank Tyson’s fiery burst sent Pakistan packing for just 133 runs on the first morning, it seemed that such berating opinions were justified to an extent. Fazal Mahmood and Mahmood Hussain, who was astonishingly left out of the team for the initial two matches, however had other ideas. Not to be overawed by their much experienced opponents, they simply scythed through the strong English batting line to dismiss them three runs short of Pakistan’s score. For Pakistan, the story of the second innings was almost similar to the first innings and had it not been for the last two wickets, Pakistan would not have been able to reach even that meagre 164. England had the match and series all but wrapped up when they crossed the hundred-mark for the loss of just two wickets. It was then that Fazal struck like lightning on the shell-shocked hosts, who were all set to celebrate the much expected series victory. He single-handedly snatched victory from the jaws of an impending defeat. In the end England fell short by 24 runs from their target and handed the babes of Test cricket a historic win. All the English scribes, who unanimously had written Pakistan off even before Pakistan had landed in England, were made to eat their words. Pakistan thus became the first country to beat England on their first tour.
Fazal’s 12-wicket haul earned him tremendous respect in England and he was soon being compared with the likes of the great Alec Bedser, one of the best exponents of seam bowling to have graced the cricket fields.