When frustrated England players kidnapped a Pakistani umpire

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Throwback to 1956: When frustrated England players kidnapped a Pakistani umpire! 

Throwback to 1956: When frustrated England players kidnapped a Pakistani umpire!

The bilateral series between Pakistan and England seldom took place without any controversy. In recent times, ball-tampering and spot fixing are the two most dicsussed controversies when England played Pakistan in a series. But Pakistan and England share a long history of controversies. The first controversy took place in Peshawar which hosted the third Test match. A Pakistani umpire who had played for Delhi in Ranji Trophy was ‘kidnapped’ (if one can use this term) by the England players as they were unhappy with his decision on the field that cornered them in the match.

The first controversy took place in Peshawar which hosted the third Test match. A Pakistani umpire who had played for Delhi in Ranji Trophy was ‘kidnapped’ (if one can use this term) by the England players as they were unhappy with his decision on the field that cornered them in the match.

In 1956 MCC’s tour of Pakistan, the umpire, Idris Baig was poured a bucket of water by the English players as MCC team was not satisfied with his officiating. Baig allegedly gave a few biased decisions.

Baig started his career as a player in Ranji Trophy for Delhi between 1936 and 1946. After a few weeks of his retirement, Baig started officiating matches in Ranji Trophy.

As Pakistan parted away from India, Baig went to Pakistan. He officiated four matches between Pakistan and India in 1954-55.  He also officiated matches of Pakistan against New Zealand and Australia.

In 1956, the MCC team came to Pakistan to play a four-match series. Baig was the local umpire of the match.

During that time, players couldn’t tour twice in one winter, so MCC had sent a young team under the leadership of Donald Carr.

15 players, a manager, and a sole reporter arrived in Karachi on December 26, 1955.

The initial weeks of the tour happened under a relaxed atmosphere and it was all about fun.

MCC’s first unofficial Test went well as they were unbeaten on the pitch and in the Lahore Test they had drawn the match but it was followed by a massive defeat to Pakistan in Dhaka.

Baig was an umpire of that match and his a few decisions didn’t go well with MCC team. Later after that game when Baig walked past an England’s player’s room, MCC player George Duckworth was drenched with water,  he chuckled; but Carr joked, “We’ll get you too, before the end of the tour.”

“You’ll never get me,” Baig roared back.

Pakistan team didn’t take this incident well. They were fumed. In the third Test in Karachi, MCC team were bowled out for 188.  Baig’s decision raised questions as he gave four lbw decision in favor of Kardar’s, the then Pakistan captain, team.

On the third day of the match, Pakistan needed only 18 runs to win the match. They won it with eight wickets in hand. After the match, there was formal dinner hosted for MCC players where they reached in relaxed, recalled Howards.

MCC team went to Pakistan team hotel where they found Baig and made him sit in a chair as they tipped a bucket of water over his head.

By the next morning, a major incident was brewing. Kardar told Baig that he was ridiculed. Then Baig appeared in front of newspaper reporters, claiming that MCC players manhandled him. The telegram was sent to the Lord’s. And extra security was sent to Peshawar.

MCC team manager Howard offered a written apology to Baig. But protests took place inside and outside the ground.

So before the fourth Test start in Karachi, there was a tense situation. All the social arrangements were canceled. On the fourth day of the Peshawar Test, MCC needed to chase 125 runs to win, but they were 75 for 7 at one stage. Finally, MCC won the match with two wickets in hand.

After the end of the series, there was a farewell dinner where the decision for the neutral umpire to officiate a bilateral series was also discussed.

Later, in 1970 when the East Pakistan was destroyed by the super cyclone, and more than 150,000 people died; Carr came with a team to raise fund for Pakistan state. The match took place in Karachi. Before the match, Baig went to England’s dressing room and said them he is in charge of the match. Baig even recognized Carr and gave him a warm hug.

Carr took Baig out of the dressing room where he was tapped on the shoulder by one of the players who showed him the bucket and said, “Would this help?”

“Baig laughed,” Carr remembered.

“It was fine,” Carr signed off.

Bibliography:

Martin Williamson’s article in EspnCricinfo

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack (for scorecard)

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