On July 12 2009, Pakistan’s 196th Test cricketer – 23-year-old Fawad Alam – received his maiden Test cap.
Pakistan is present in England with the largest travelling squad in the history of cricket, including ten fast bowlers, four spinners, four opening batsmen, nine middle-order batsmen and two wicket-keepers.
For the first time, a 14-member officials team comprising former cricketers is also part of the more than two-month-long tour to England. Keep in mind Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani, CEO Wasim Khan and many other board personalities are also touring England during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pakistan cricket has effectively been shut down and transferred to England for the time being.
Surprisingly, there are still fears the Pakistani team will not be able to perform due to their weak pacers line-up. Team management feel there will be no reverse swing due to a ban on the use of saliva on the ball.
This will make a difference in the performance of the pacers of both teams, but it will be more difficult for the Pakistani bowlers. Among Pakistani pacers, Mohammad Abbas has a speed of 125 kilometres per hour, but in Asia he has been taking wickets with reverse swing. He is one of the few pacers who have experience playing in England.
Shaheen Shah Afridi also has the right skills and is well trusted by both the team and the management. Similarly, Naseem Shah did most of the hunting in his short career thanks to the reverse swing.
How will they reverse swing without saliva?
To explain the solution, the former cricketers present say the pacers will have to make the effort themselves. Such advice was the be expected from such a large management contingent.
Then there’s Muhammad Musa. Like many other pacers, he has no experience in England’s playing conditions, which is why it won’t be easy for him to perform well on this tour.
And let’s not talk about Wahab Riaz and the other pacers who have never performed well during a tour of England in their many series of trying.
Junaid Khan has not been included in the squad despite saying says no pacer other than Abbas is more qualified than him to bowl against England. The numbers are on his side – no bowler in the pacers line-up has an average like his.
Khan toured England with the under-19s, played county cricket for six years and was part of the Champions Trophy-winning team. But the selectors clearly didn’t think he has the qualities to adjust to the team line-up.
Pakistan should not forget that its strength is strong bowling. Pakistan has always won events with the help of powerful bowling. If the team relies solely on batting, there can be no doubt the most difficult tour of England will be the most important chapter in its history.