A moment of applause, please

Congratulations to Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf, who has gone past Sir Vivian Richards’ long standing record for the most Test runs in a year. Well done that man. As I write, he’s still at the crease, so he could still push the mark beyond 1,750 runs. A remarkable achievement!

Mohammad Youhana Yousuf

Who can do me a favour and work out what Yousuf Youhana’s Test average was, and what it is since he swapped religions and became Mohammad Yousuf? I’d check myself but thought you’d enjoy the challenge.

England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Lord’s, 4th day

So then. Pakistan trail by just 119 runs, with Mohammad Yousuf unbeaten on 185…and one Shahid Afridi is also there. Keep an eye on the scorecard, and chat away with any comments. This could go either way.

Pakistan v India, 1st Test, Lahore, day one

Younis Khan is in fine touch on what was a brilliant first day for Pakistan, who ended on 362 for 2. Khan, unbeaten on 147, shared in a 190-run partnership with Mohammad Yousuf (95*) – what a terrific start.

My colleage Sid is at the game and was bulletining it.

I’m reminded of the post I put up on The Surfer yesterday: The hot and dosti tandoori Ashes

No more Ian Botham pitch reports, please!

So in response to England’s 288, Pakistan are 4 for 185. Flat batting track, huh? Thanks for nothing, Beefy.

And add to that, Inzamam has retired hurt and is off having x-rays. I’ve not seen any news as yet as to how bad the injury is, or whether or not he can resume his innings tomorrow.

I think honours are about even here, and neither side has taken a clear advantage. Mohammad Yousuf needs to kick on, and the lower order need to help him. I saw a couple of deliveries in the latter part of the day that kept low, so I think Pakistan will need a first innings lead, the more the merrier.

The talent that lies within

I can’t remember who said it, but it was during Pakistan’s tour of England in 1996 when I heard the following uttered: “Pakistan are the most talented team in the world, and contain the richest abundance of natural talent anywhere in the world.” Something alone those lines, anyway.

It’s one of those sayings which sticks with you (and follows you, although hopefully not in the next few weeks!), and I’ve yet to find someone who can justify it, or qualify it. Yet something tells me it’s probably true, which leads me to ask: how and why aren’t Pakistan regarded as a serious world-beating threat? Why, if they have such rich seams of talent, are they so inconsistent and volatile? Why can’t Inzamam run between the wickets, and why has their fielding always been so crap?

In that 1996 tour, I saw players like Inzy, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis – and the spin twins of Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed (bowling Mushy). Actually, wrong tour Will – Saqlain didn’t play a Test, my mistake. Anyway, it’s understandable that a team can struggle to compete when they lose such greats as Wasim and Waqar (just look at the West Indies. Although their problems run deeper, and I don’t even begin to understand them) but a country that can produce such natural talent ought to succeed more than they have been.

The BBC went some way to explaining the problems a few weeks ago:

Bob Woolmer has at his disposal a wealth of talent: prolific middle-order batsmen Younis Khan, Inzamam and Mohammad Yousuf; a brilliant young leg-spinner in Danish Kaneria; and bowlers of searing pace in Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami.

Shoaib can be devastating – when he’s fit and the mood suits him

But getting all of those fit and mentally tuned in to perform in all three Tests will be Woolmer’s big challenge – quite often one department has fired, only to be let down by the other parts of the team.

Shoaib is a curious one. He has the ability, and bendy arm, to kill most batsmen if he so chooses. But he comes across as lazy, arrogant, unfit and superior to the game. He’ll play if he wants, when he wants.

Even when Wasim and Waqar were squashing batsmen’s toes at will, the question as to “which team will turn up?” hovered over the Pakistan team, and I don’t think it’s lifted to this day. Which side will turn up against England?