Yesterday New Zealand scored 100 runs from the last 29 balls of their innings. A liberal supply of knee-high, leg-stump full tosses had been dispatched sometimes literally out of the ground at Pallekele which was holding its first one day international.
From the moment they took the field to the moment they lost their last wicket Pakistan were frankly shambolic, giving away a glut of extras, overthrows and dropped catches. They bowled at the death like they were playing in a benefit match on a Bank Holiday Sunday. In reply they batted like zombies.
Ross Taylor scored 62 runs off the last 16 balls that he faced. But his innings had begun uncertainly to say the least. Planting his left leg a few inches in front of him and wafting the bat far from his body and out in front of him he had repeatedly flirted with danger and over balanced hideously.
Nor was Taylor the only Kiwi to struggle at the outset despite the fodder on offer. But the more tentatively New Zealand batted the worse Pakistan bowled and fielded.
At ‘half time’ and at the end of play, the Cricketainment Industry moved into full gear expressing awe at the late onslaught triggered by McCullum, effected by Taylor and ably assisted by Oram.
Not one eyebrow was raised among the commentariat at this abrupt change in Pakistan form, which prior to this had delivered them comfortable and impressive wins and the accolade of ‘Team Most Likely …’
But we have been here before; in the Caribbean against Ireland in the last World Cup four years ago, at Sydney two years ago and at Lord’s last summer. Bizarre misses, inexplicable bowling changes, sudden reverses in the batting fortunes of opponents, reckless shots and feeble defences.
Yesterday one Pakistan batsman played three inches down the wrong line of a straight delivery.
It may be that Ireland won fairly and squarely four years ago (and their result against England in this competition is proof of their potential to upset good sides), but in years when they tell their grandchildren can those cricketers in green be certain there were not two sides out there playing for an Irish victory?
It may be that Broad and Taylor played exceptional innings, but in their private moments will the memories be tarnished by a niggling doubt?
Why is it not possible to accept that we saw yesterday another remarkable match and another remarkable innings?
Because the failings of the PCA and the ICC to convince us that they have rooted out corrupt practices mean that we really don’t know for what the match was remarkable – cricketing skill or cricketing manipulation.
If this was horse racing, there would be a steward’s enquiry. But in cricket the silence of the infrastructure that administrates and reports on the industry is deafening.
In the image above, people appear to be standing and walking on the ceiling. The image is warped and the moving figures blurred which makes us suspicious of what we see.
We are right to have our doubts. It is a photograph of a mirrored ceiling at the entrance to the Baltic Exchange in Newcastle on a busy and sunny Sunday afternoon.
Trust is of such importance to man as a social animal that its loss is immediately replaced by distrust. There is no neutral, intermediate stage. Trust lost, leaves a stain, an imprint which is substantial, tangible. It is mistrust.
Sadly, it has come to this.