Rameez Raja © Getty Images (File photo)
Rameez Raja © Getty Images (File photo)

January 5, 1987. As England and Pakistan went through the dress rehearsal of the final of the Benson and Hedges Challenge, a bloomer by the umpires cost Rameez Raja his wicket. Arunabha Sengupta recalls how the batsman was run-out after being caught off a no-ball.

In retrospect it was an inconsequential match, a dress rehearsal for the final under the full beam of the lights.

For a change the Benson & Hedges Challenge contested Down Under was a four-nation tournament, all the matches held at Perth. In fact, ABC referred to the tournament as the Perth Challenge. It was a part of the Sports Festival that coincided with the 26th edition of the America’s Cup, which was held in Fremantle.

It was the first time in 132 years that New York Yacht Club could not defend the title. It was also the first time that cricket was played under lights at WACA.

And in spite of the august presence of West Indies with their quicks bowling on the lightning-fast wicket, England and Pakistan had ensured their places in the title round — which, for a change, was a one-off match instead of the usual best-of-three.

Things had shaped that way from the very first match when Wasim Akram, Salim Jaffar and the seemingly innocuous Mudassar Nazar had surprisingly defended the small score of 199 against Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and the others. When the Caribbean cricketers had faced England, they had been asked to score a modest 229, and had thrown away the last six wickets for 31 to lose by 19 runs.

And of course, in between, all the three teams had steamrolled the weak Australian side. Only Pakistan were made to strain themselves in this regard, overcoming a big total of 273 with one wicket and one ball to spare.

Hence, when the final group match started between England and Pakistan, both the sides were sitting pretty with four points apiece, already in the finals to be held two days later.

Yet, this was a One Day International, and both teams wanted to win. Imran Khan won the toss and Pakistan batted with a great sense of purpose.

Qasim Umar and Shoaib Mohammad put together a sedate 61 before Ian Botham, bowling second change, castled the former. The in-form Rameez Raja walked out and proceeded to settle down, as was the norm in those way be-gone days.

Pakistan were cruising at 98 for 1 in the 27th over and England captain Mike Gatting was sending down his earnest slow-medium-paced little swingers. And at this juncture the bizarre incident took place.

In spite of his short run up, Gatting over-stepped. Umpire Tony Crafter called no-ball, but it was drowned by the noise of the slightly boisterous crowd. Rameez clipped the ball to shortish mid-wicket where it was held on the full by Bill Athey.

Crafter’s arm was extended, but the batsman did not look at him. Rameez went down the wicket, taking steps towards the pavilion. Athey stood confused, made to lob the ball to Gatting. The England skipper, standing with arms folded in disappointment over the no-ball, pointed his finger to the striker’s end.

Athey lobbed the ball in a slow arc to wicketkeeper Jack Richards, and Rameez, turning too late, saw his bails being taken off. Strangely, umpire Dick French at square-leg upheld the appeal.

It was in direct contravention of Law 38(2) which stated: “If a no-ball has been called, the striker shall not be given run out unless he attempts to run.” Rameez was certainly not going for a run. Crafter and French, Test umpires both, made this rather basic howler and the batsman was on his way back.

The England cricketers perhaps knew more about the law. Celebrations were muted and Gatting stood with an embarrassed expression on his face. Wisden was rather scathing in summing up: “Rarely as such an eventuality arises, two Test umpires should have known the Law.”

What followed?

Javed Miandad was the man who walked out at this moment and hammered two fours and two sixes in a 65-ball 59. It helped Pakistan set England a decent 230 to win.

Chris Broad and Athey put on 104 for the first wicket and it seemed as if it was going to be a cakewalk. Indeed, with Broad nearing his hundred and Alan Lamb scoring at more than a run-a-ball, England seemed to be cruising at 156 for 2.

But then suddenly five wickets tumbled, including two legitimate, but rather unnecessary, run-outs. With 21 runs to go, Broad feathered a snick off Imran to be the 7th out in the 47th over, missing his century by 3 runs.

However, the free-striking Phil DeFreitas and the experienced and unorthodox John Emburey gathered 14 busy runs off the 48th and 49th overs. And as a young Wasim raged in, the two professionals scampered five off the first three balls.

With one to tie and two to win, Imran brought the field up. Akram pitched up and DeFreitas ended the match with an ice-cool cover-driven boundary off the fourth ball.


This curious method of dismissal was not really a one-off occurrence in Rameez’s career.

It was again England versus Pakistan six years later, and the stage was the grand World Cup final of 1992. This time, Chris Lewis pitched short and Rameez’s slashed square cut was caught at point by Graeme Hick. However, by then umpire Steve Bucknor had called no-ball because of the height of the delivery.

But, the lesson had not been learnt. Rameez was seen walking away again, and Hick shied at the stumps. He missed. Had he hit, it would have been left to square-leg umpire Brian Aldridge to decide. And with Bucknor in the mix, it would definitely have been interesting.

Brief Scores:

Pakistan 229 for 5 in 50 overs (Shoaib Mohammad 66, Javed Miandad 59) lost to England 232 for 7 in 49.4 overs (Stuart Broad 97, Bill Athey 42) by 3 wickets with 2 balls to spare.

Man of the Match: Javed Miandad.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history of cricket, with occasional statistical pieces and reflections on the modern game. He is also the author of four novels, the most recent being Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes. He tweets here.)