LAHORE-One of the most respected and decorated England cricketers Michael Atherton believes that Pakistan cricket team has a very good record against England in recent years in England and highly compatible cricket will be seen when the former world champion visit England this summer.
“Pakistan is always a valuable team to play in England and they get good support from the crowds. The cricket should be good and highly competitive,” he said, according to the information made available here on Saturday by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Atherton has played 115 Tests and 54 ODIs from 1989 to 2001. He now enjoys a successful career as a broadcaster with Sky Sports and a journalist with The Times as their chief cricket correspondent. He was in Pakistan in early March, before the COVID19 outbreak, working on a documentary on the revival of cricket in Pakistan, which is likely to be aired as part of the Pakistan team’s build-up for the summer tour of England.
The PCB digital caught up with him for its podcast show and discussed a wide-range of topics, including his relationship with Pakistan cricket, the evolution of new media and his journey from being a cricketer to replacing Christopher Martin-Jenkins at The Times in 2008.
Atherton lauded the Pakistan Super League (PSL) for providing top notch security arrangements to its foreign players and assuring that the country is safe one. “It’s great to see cricket’s return to Pakistan. By now all foreign cricketers are fully aware that they are safe in Pakistan. They had a great time playing PSL matches.”
He said that Pakistan’s decade-long drought following the infamous 2009 terrorist attack on Sri Lankan team must have been hard on the Pakistan team too. “I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Pakistani cricketers to play in the UAE with no crowds while also being away from home,” he said.
Atherton also lauded the perseverance and determination of Prime Minister Imran Khan, recalling how the 1992 World Cup winner had once told him that he would one day win the general elections ‘and then he did win’.
The former England batsman said that Pakistan has a knack of producing wicket-taking bowlers and this quality sets the side apart from all the other teams in the world. He also gave a shoutout to the former legendary attack of Pakistan comprising of Wasim Akram, Waqar Yopunis, Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed.
“When I played against them, they had some great bowlers in particular. The last attack that I played against on my tour here of 2000, they had Wasim and Waqar Younis then Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq. Now you have got four great match-winning bowlers there.”
“Pakistan, of course, have produced great batsmen, but I think in recent times, the strength and depth of their bowling and particularly the kind of wicket-taking bowlers – pace bowlers and mystery spinners – have set them apart,” he added.
Atherton also gave a unique take as to why Pakistan keeps producing great quality bowlers and went on to say that lack of infrastructure plays no role in developing budding bowlers. “I don’t know why Pakistan particularly produces great bowlers. I suspect it has something to do with the relative lack of infrastructure. In order to produce lots and lots of great batsmen, you’ve got to have facilities and infrastructure and coaches and a very formal system, but I think bowlers can spring and emerge from anywhere and that’s probably why Pakistan produce so many,” he added.
Pakistan has to play three Tests and three T20Is against England this year. England and Pakistan are slated to play three Tests and three T20Is against each other. The series will be beginning from July 30 if all the current situation improves looking at the coronavirus pandemic. England is currently placed at the fourth spot in the World Test Championship standings with 146 points from nine matches. On the other hand, Pakistan is placed at the fifth spot with 140 poins from five matches.