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2010: Pakistan's year in crisis

By Mark Mitchener

Zulqarnain Haider's decision to retire from international cricket after claiming he received death threats is only the latest of a number of problems to trouble Pakistan cricket in 2010.

Sadly, allegations of corruption and off-field disputes have made the headlines more often than the national team's on-field performances.

THE NIGHTMARE DOWN UNDER
Mohammad Yousuf and Australia captain Ricky Ponting
Yousuf and Pakistan had an unhappy tour of Australia

Pakistan's tour of Australia last winter, which began in December 2009, was a disaster for the tourists. After drawing their warm-up game with Tasmania, they lost every single competitive game during their stay down under.

The Test side, captained by Mohammad Yousuf, were beaten in all three Tests at Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart, with the defeat in Sydney all the more remarkable after Pakistan had looked set for victory on the final day.

Australia resumed on the final morning 80 runs ahead with only two second-innings wickets remaining. But Mike Hussey (134 not out) and defiant tail-ender Peter Siddle (38 from 117 balls) added a mammoth 123 for the ninth wicket before Pakistan were skittled for 139 to hand Australia a 36-run win.

Pakistan were then whitewashed 5-0 in the one-day internationals, lost the only Twenty20 international and were reeling from nine straight defeats in all formats by the time they left Australia in February.

BALL-BITING AND BACKBITING
Shahid Afridi speaks to the umpires during the Perth game where he bit the ball
Afridi's ball-biting earned him a two-match suspension

Pakistan's Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi, never a stranger to controversy, was then handed a suspension by the International Cricket Council for an unusual offence.

In 2005, the all-rounder was banned for one Test and two one-day internationals for deliberately scuffing up the wicket with his spikes in a match against England in Faisalabad.

More than four years later, he was caught on camera biting the ball in a one-day international against Australia in Perth and banned for two Twenty20 games.

With Afridi suspended, former skipper Shoaib Malik was named captain for two Twenty20 internationals against England in the United Arab Emirates.

But before they could take place, Malik and Mohammad Yousuf were involved in a public war of words, with both criticising the other's term of captaincy.

Malik had more personal issues of his own to deal with subsequently, ahead of his high-profile marriage to Indian tennis star Sania Mirza.

INDEFINITE BANS - OR ARE THEY?
Younus Khan
Younus Khan's indefinite ban was lifted after three months

Following the disastrous Australia tour, the PCB launched an inquiry and eventually announced sweeping punishments in March.

Former skippers Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan were banned indefinitely from representing Pakistan after the inquiry found them guilty of "infighting which... brought down the whole team", although the PCB later stated the bans were not intended to be for life.

Five other players were also punished. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Shoaib Malik were banned for a year and heavily fined for unspecified indiscipline, while Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal were all heavily fined and warned that their conduct would be monitored during a six-month probationary period.

All four suspensions were subsequently lifted at various points during the year...

Malik's ban was lifted in May, Younus's in June (by an appeal judge) and Naved's in October. Yousuf announced his retirement from international cricket in March but was recalled to the squad in August.

Having won the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009, Pakistan were losing semi-finalists in the Caribbean in May, bowing out after Australia's Mike Hussey hit three sixes in the last over to book their place in the final.

AFRIDI'S BACK... NO HE'S NOT
Shahid Afridi
Afridi quit Test cricket after only one game as Pakistan skipper

Unable to play at home since gunmen attacked Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in March 2009, Pakistan headed to England in late June to play two Twenty20 internationals and two "home" Tests against Australia.

Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi ended a four-year exile from Test cricket to lead Pakistan in the Tests but then resigned the captaincy and retired from Test cricket after his team lost the first Test by 150 runs.

Batsman Salman Butt was named as his replacement as Test skipper on 17 July.

THE ENGLAND SERIES STARTS POORLY
Kamran Akmal
Kamran Akmal dropped a number of chances during the series

After battling back well to win the second Test against Australia and level the series at 1-1, Pakistan then faced England in four Tests.

Fielding an inexperienced batting line-up, the tourists were cruelly exposed. Dismissed for 182 and 80 at Trent Bridge as England won the first Test by 354 runs, they were then rolled over for 72 in the first innings of the second Test at Edgbaston as England romped to a nine-wicket victory.

Pakistan's fielding was lacklustre at times. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was dropped after a nightmare performance behind the stumps in the first Test, only for replacement Zulqarnain Haider to suffer a broken finger in the second Test and return home.

Fortified by Yousuf's recall for the third Test, Pakistan won by four wickets at The Oval. But that high point would soon be followed by a new low.

SPOT-FIXING STORM BREAKS AT LORD'S
Pakistan selector Shafqat Rana and team manager Yawar Saeed read the News of the World's allegations
Spot-fixing allegations overshadowed the last day of the Lord's Test

Spectators attending the first three days of the fourth final Test at Lord's witnessed some superlative cricket.

Teenage left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir produced a virtually unplayable spell of swing bowling which left England struggling at 102-7 and Pakistan odds-on favourites to square the series .

But Jonathan Trott (184) and Stuart Broad (169) added 332 for the eighth wicket, a new world record, before spinner Graeme Swann ripped through Pakistan, whose batting crumbled again as they were steamrollered for 74 and forced to follow on.

As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning, reports then surfaced that would rock the world of cricket, with the News of the World alleging that three Pakistan players had been involved in spot-fixing during the Test.

It was claimed that Amir and fellow seamer Mohammad Asif had deliberately bowled no balls at pre-arranged times in return for money from a bookmaker's "middle man". New Test skipper Butt was also implicated.

As a result of the newspaper allegations, there was a funereal atmosphere to the final day as Pakistan, who did not appear on the field to warm up before play, limped to an innings defeat before lunch. Hardly surprising that the presentation ceremony, which was low key, was held behind closed doors.

Butt, Amir and Asif were provisionally suspended by the ICC and interviewed by British police, as was seamer Wahab Riaz, although no charges were brought. The ICC's anti-corruption and security unit's investigation remains ongoing - as does the police investigation.

BUTT ACCUSES ENGLAND
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt
Butt's comments during the one-day series incensed England

With the accused trio back in Pakistan, the remaining tourists moved on to the limited-overs leg of the tour. After two sparsely-attended Twenty20 defeats in Cardiff, Pakistan soon trailed 2-0 in the five-game one-day international series before a superb spell by paceman Umar Gul helped Pakistan win the third ODI at The Oval to keep the series alive.

But corruption was soon back in the headlines after the ICC announced that it was investigating "a certain scoring pattern" in the third ODI, although no England player was under suspicion.

And an already tense series was inflamed further when PCB chairman Ijaz Butt told Indian television that he had heard some bookmakers saying some England players had been paid to lose at The Oval.

JONATHAN AGNEW'S COLUMN
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, writing in September 2010

England were understandably incensed at Butt's accusations and captain Andrew Strauss admitted the team had "strong misgivings" about taking the field for the last two ODIs.

Tensions boiled over at Lord's as Jonathan Trott and Wahab Riaz were involved in a brief spat in the practice nets, with reports claiming the pair had thrown pads at each other.

The England and Wales Cricket Board threatened to take legal action against Butt unless he apologised.

A tour mired in controversy ended on 22 September as England won the deciding ODI at the Rose Bowl.

Butt retracted his claim a week later, while tour manager Yawar Saeed, who had managed numerous tours since the 1970s, resigned.

ANOTHER NEW CAPTAIN - AND A NEW CODE OF CONDUCT
New Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq
Misbah was named Test captain to face South Africa

In early October, Pakistan named their squads for their "home" series against South Africa in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Veteran batsman Misbah-ul-Haq, omitted from the tour of England, was named as their fourth Test captain of 2010, with Afridi continuing as limited-overs skipper.

Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was left out because of injury, giving another chance to the fit-again Zulqarnain Haider behind the stumps.

Meanwhile, the ICC upheld the provisional suspensions given to Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir, while Mohammad Asif withdrew his appeal, claiming his legal team needed more time to prepare their case. The PCB then suspended the trio's central contracts.

Pakistan also announced a new code of conduct for its players, following ICC recommendations, and were credited for doing so by the game's world governing body.

HAIDER TAKES FLIGHT
Zulqarnain Haider
Haider flew from Dubai to the UK on the day of the final ODI

With the one-day series against South Africa level at 2-2 and all set for a deciding fifth match, details began to emerge that wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider was no longer with the squad, and had boarded a plane to the UK.

He was later quoted as saying that he had quit international cricket after receiving death threats for refusing to fix games.

Fans of Pakistan cricket will feel that 2010 cannot end soon enough.



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see also
Haider wants to 'live in peace'
10 Nov 10 |  Pakistan
Haider has let Pakistan down - Iqbal
09 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Cricketer Haider may seek asylum
09 Nov 10 |  South Asia
Pakistan suspend trio's contracts
03 Nov 10 |  Pakistan
Misbah to lead Pakistan in Tests
08 Oct 10 |  Pakistan
Jonathan Agnew column
22 Sep 10 |  England
England finish off tarnished Test
29 Aug 10 |  England
Pakistan lose injured Zulqarnain
16 Aug 10 |  Pakistan
Aussies stun Pakistan in thriller
14 May 10 |  Cricket
Pakistan to ban Yousuf & Younus
10 Mar 10 |  Pakistan
Pakistan v South Africa (in UAE) 2010
25 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Pakistan in England 2010
07 Sep 10 |  Cricket
Pakistan in Australia 2009-10
05 Feb 10 |  Cricket


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