Umpire Shakoor Rana (left) and England captain Mike Gatting (head bowed) when peace was being brokered to ensure that the England-Pakistan series did not come to an abrupt half following an ugly showdown between the two gentlemen during a Test in 1987 © Getty Images
Umpire Shakoor Rana (left) and England captain Mike Gatting (head bowed) when peace was being brokered to ensure that the England-Pakistan series did not come to an abrupt half following an ugly showdown between the two gentlemen during a Test in 1987 © Getty Images
By Jawad Khan
As every doosra and teesra out of Saeed Ajmal’s hand passed the incapable strokes of perplexed Englishmen, the smell of a potential controversy got stronger with every wicket in the packed media centre of an otherwise empty cricket stadium in Dubai.
Staying completely loyal to their predecessors, the British journalists and media men triggered another controversy by questioning the bowling action of Pakistan’s new spin king and the wisdom behind his selection of attire that consisted of a full sleeved T-shirt. Rumours abound that Ajmal’s action might come under an even sterner media examination following England’s defeat in the first Test.
Controversies, however, are nothing new in Pakistan vs England encounters. Here’s a look at some of the major controversies that have plagued the relationship of these two cricketing giants over the past decades:
1. Ian Botham’s distasteful comment against Pakistan – 1983
Ian Botham was never shy of openly expressing his views and, naturally, controversies always dogged him both on and off the cricket field. In 1983, after being forced to fly back home from Pakistan during the Test Series between Pakistan and England, Botham’s views once again sparked controversy.
“….the kind of place to send your mother-in-law for a month, all expenses paid.”
This is how he described Pakistan, for which he eventually had to apologise. Less than a decade later Botham ate his words when a certain Wasim Akram got rid of him for a duck in the World Cup 1992 final and Aamer Sohail asked him:
“Who’s coming in next? Your mother-in-law?”
2. Mike Gatting’s finger-wagging showdown with umpire Shakoor Rana – 1987
Being  0-1 down in their away Test series against Pakistan in 1987, an under-pressure England captain Mike Gatting got himself involved in high drama, with Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana – an incident that almost saw the tour being called off midway.
In a bizarre turn of events, umpire Rana called Mike Gatting “a f***ing” cheat on his insistence to move his fielders during the bowler’s run-up. Gatting returned the favour in an equally fearsome manner and his finger-wagging while shouting at Rana made headlines worldwide. Rana demanded an official apology and halted play until then. Finally, after losing the whole third day of play and government intervention of the highest level, the series continued towards its logical conclusion.

3. Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, reverse swing & ball tampering – 1992


By 1992, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were supreme exponents of reverse swing. The Englishmen, however, found it hard to digest. As processions of English batsmen started making their way back to the pavilion, the English media waged a war on the legendary Pakistani swing kings that has never really settled since. Akram and Younis, along with other Pakistani players, were at the centre of ball-tampering accusations from the English media and players. England’s case, however, was rubbished off by their own batting legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott when he termed English batsmen as incapable and that Pakistani bowlers would get them out even if they bowled with oranges!



4. Wait Until Dark! – Moin Khan gives away the Karachi fortress – 2000


When Pakistan collapsed in the third innings of the Karachi Test against England, they were in danger of losing a Test match at the National Stadium for the first time in 39 years. Moin Khan, the Pakistani captain, was in no mood to get his name in the record books for the wrong reasons and tried every tactic to slow down the game to an eventual draw. Umpire Steve Bucknor, however, ruined Moin’s plans and allowed play to go on in near darkness as England secured one of their most famous wins.



5. “Boom Boom” Afridi dances on the pitch – 2005


Being the innocent guy he is, Shahid Afridi usually finds unique ways of serving his team. On this occasion, assuming considerable lack of attention from his surroundings, Afridi decided to try a few dance moves on the cricket pitch. The cameras, however, were watching and so was Kevin Pietersen. Afridi got penalised for his innocence and Pakistan’s image suffered a further dent.



6. The Oval fiasco – first forfeited Test in history – 2006


Not many thought that a man as laid back as Inzamam-ul Haq would be at the centre of cricket’s first forfeited Test match in 129 years. When Umpire Darrell Hair accused  Pakistan of ball tampering and awarded five penalty runs to England, Pakistan captain Inzamam protested without much success. However, when the teams went for the tea break, few predicted what was to follow. In a completely unexpected turn of events, Inzamam along with the rest of the Pakistan team, refused to come back to the field in protest against the ball tampering charges. Umpires Billy Doctrove and Hair waited for a while and then awarded the match to England, the fist such instance in 129 years.


7. The Three Idiots – Spot-fixing Scandal – 2010


Very rarely has the world seen talents such as Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif together on the cricket field. It’s a pity, however, that they will never be seen together again. When Amir and Asif overstepped while bowling with inconceivably large margins under the supervision of their leader in crime Salman Butt, Pakistan cricket fell into the dirtiest sporting controversy in its history. The three cricketers were eventually banned and later convicted of criminal charges in the UK and are now serving their sentences behind bars.


(Jawad Khan is an e-commerce professional, a wannabe entrepreneur, and a cricket enthusiast, who still lives in the ’90s and spends his holidays watching Wasim Akram’s yorkers on YouTube. He spells out his cricketing wisdom at The above article has been reproduced with permission from