Australia plunge into unknown as cricket’s resurrection in Pakistan continues | Geoff Lemon

For both sides there will be a fair bit of making this up as they go along once the three-Test series gets under way in Rawalpindi

It was no surprise that, half an hour after the end of training was due, Steve Smith was the last man standing. Two days before Australia’s first Test match in Pakistan since 1998, the centre-wicket practice at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium that had been teeming with players saw their numbers dissipate through that spring afternoon. For a time Smith alternated batting with Usman Khawaja, facing Ashton Agar’s left-arm orthodox. Eventually, inevitably, it was just Smith, and one baseball-mitted coach throwing down ersatz spin. Just Smith in the Australian net, at least. On the far side of the same wicket square, having likewise outlasted his teammates, a couple of toilers bowled to Babar Azam.

The symbolism was plain. On either side, shot for shot, each matched the other for assiduousness. The two who lead the batting for their teams, the two carrying most responsibility. Babar is a classical stylist who can play at modernity’s frantic tempo, and has risen to captain the side. He is also a metaphor for cricket’s resurrection in his country: after three years of a record far too modest for his gifts, he peeled off three centuries in consecutive matches as soon as Tests returned to Pakistan.

Continue reading…For both sides there will be a fair bit of making this up as they go along once the three-Test series gets under way in RawalpindiIt was no surprise that, half an hour after the end of training was due, Steve Smith was the last man standing. Two days before Australia’s first Test match in Pakistan since 1998, the centre-wicket practice at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium that had been teeming with players saw their numbers dissipate through that spring afternoon. For a time Smith alternated batting with Usman Khawaja, facing Ashton Agar’s left-arm orthodox. Eventually, inevitably, it was just Smith, and one baseball-mitted coach throwing down ersatz spin. Just Smith in the Australian net, at least. On the far side of the same wicket square, having likewise outlasted his teammates, a couple of toilers bowled to Babar Azam.The symbolism was plain. On either side, shot for shot, each matched the other for assiduousness. The two who lead the batting for their teams, the two carrying most responsibility. Babar is a classical stylist who can play at modernity’s frantic tempo, and has risen to captain the side. He is also a metaphor for cricket’s resurrection in his country: after three years of a record far too modest for his gifts, he peeled off three centuries in consecutive matches as soon as Tests returned to Pakistan. Continue reading…[#item_full_content]

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