England beat Pakistan in first men’s T20 cricket international – as it happened
December 21, 2005. England’s weary cricketers trudge off the field under the misty haze of the Rawalpindi floodlights. A consolation ODI victory chalked up thanks to a match winning 4-48 by a 23 year old slippery seam bowler called James Anderson. As the players head off the dew sopped outfield and thoughts turn to flying home for Christmas, none of them were to know that they would be the last England men’s cricket side to play in Pakistan for nearly two decades.
Today, England return, belatedly, after seventeen long years. James Anderson is, inevitably, the only player from that series still plying his trade and he hasn’t sent down an international white ball in anger since 2015. Back in 2005, Duncan Fletcher’s England squad lost their Ashes glow under the South-Asian sun - succumbing in both the three Test series (2-0) and the following five match ODI series (3-2).
Since that tour the two sides have duked it out in England and the UAE, the storied rivalry between them has bubbled along, memorable for reasons both on and off the pitch. One thing is certain - English cricket owes Pakistan a debt for helping them keep the lights on, arriving to help as they did in the guts of the pandemic in the UK. An act of cricketing solidarity made all the more pertinent when England failed to return the favour, pulling out of a return to Pakistan last winter in chaotic and confusing circumstances.
England are finally back now though, in Karachi to be exact. They will be led by Moeen Ali, whose family roots are in Pakistan and he has spoken recently about how meaningful it is to return and lead England there.
I wanted to be part of this. It’s a big thing when England come to Pakistan, more than any other country, England’s the one that the Pakistan fans really love to see coming here.”
The games come thick and fast from here, seven T20Is crammed in to ten or so days, both teams on fact-finding missions ahead of the World Cup in Australia next month. England will be back again for three Test matches before Christmas but lets enjoy the white ball whackings first. It feels like a quietly momentous series and the beginning of a new cricketing chapter between the two sides.
Play will be underway in 30 minutes, I’ll be back very shortly with news of the teams and the toss. As ever, drop me a line with any comments, thoughts or theories.