ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pakistan deserve number two Test ranking, says Gatting



Mike Gatting has a whale of an appetite for all the things he believes that are good in life. The former England captain is a big eater, big drinker and loves to talk.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when he eagerly accepted my request for a chat in an English Cricket Board (ECB) hospitality tent at Lord’s after the first day’s play of the opening Pakistan-England Test On Thursday.

Gatting was the host of the evening and continued to receive guests as we talked about the quality of cricket witnessed during the day, the strength of the two teams, the playing conditions and the injury woes on both dressing rooms.

But inevitably the conversation drifted to the one topic he is known for in Pakistan and most of the cricket world: His finger-wagging confrontation with Pakistan umpire Shakoor Rana almost two decades ago.

What does he think about the incident that is regarded as one of the saddest episodes in the history of Test cricket?

“Frankly I don’t think about what happened that day and wonder why people always keep talking about it,” says Gatting, a man who led England to a memorable Ashes triumph only to fall from grace following his spat with Rana and an alleged sexual encounter with a barmaid.

“It was an unnecessary incident that shouldn’t have happened. It was a sad episode,” murmurs Gatting, counted among the most gifted batsmen of his era.

It all happened on the second day of the Test in Faisalabad on England’s 1987 tour of Pakistan. Rana accused Gatting of cheating and had a heated argument with the England skipper. The umpire later refused to officiate on the third day unless Gatting gave an apology. He got what he wanted but the episode almost put an end to the series and strained relations between the two countries for several years to come.

Gatting says both the teams have put that incident behind them. “The only rivalry (between Pakistan and England) I see now is something that is necessary at this level of the game. Players from both sides are very competitive and I am looking forward to an exciting series,” he expressed.

Gatting rates Pakistan as a team of several gifted players and believes that they deserve to be ranked number two in the rankings. “It is not a bad side even without Shoaib (Akhtar), Rana (Naved-ul-Hasan), Mohammad (Asif), Younis Khan and (Shoaib) Malik. Once these guys comeback they would be a terrific team,” he remarked.

Like everybody present at Lord’s to watch the opening day’s action, Gatting was appalled at the way Pakistanis dropped their catches, enabling England to make a strong start in the opening Test. “They really did drop some dollies,” he said. “It might cost them,” he told.

Gatting did not agree with Pakistan’s bowling coach Waqar Younus who said that the players dropped the catches because of visibility problems at Lord’s. “I’ve played here quite often and there have never been any such problems,” he told. “Probably it’s the nerves,” he added.
Source:The News

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