Distinct Asian flavour

The Asians inside and outside the game represent the FUTURE OF CRICKET and what happened at Headingley will be repeated time and again in the next few years, writes TED CORBETT.

The brawny lads from Bradford, wearing their Muslim green, shouted "reject" and "traitor" at Sajid Mahmood as he rushed Pakistan to defeat at Headingley and recorded his best Test figures of four for 22.

English lads, their beer bellies bulging under their international tee shirts, showed their affection for Monty Panesar whatever he did: bowling those beautifully flighted spinners, rushing to field the ball as if his life were at stake, batting with an intensity that belied his No.11 position.

The Yorkshire crowd, still the most passionate and knowledgeable around the Test circuit, wondered how long it might be before Adil Rashid, 18, was given a place in the England squad whether as a county match-winning leg-break bowler or a middle-order batsman with a heap of runs at various levels from Academy to Under-19.

It may have been the day Asian cricketers made their mark in English cricket. Alec Stewart, England wicket-keeper and captain, until a few years ago, was taken with the improvement in Mahmood. "We will not miss Simon Jones if this lad goes on improving so quickly," he said after Mahmood had taken two wickets in four balls and ensured that England won the rubber.

"I think he is a better bowler than Simon who launches the ball at 90 miles an hour and finds reverse swing if there is any. Mahmood is cleverer. Nice slower ball, nice change of place at the crease, good control. He has a way to go, but you can see what he's got — lots of pace for a start. He is a find," Stewart said.

Jack Hampshire, former England batsman, Yorkshire captain and international umpire, stopped me in a petrol station. "Hey," he said, "can that young spinner bowl, or what?

"He's the best I have seen for a long time. I said to Ray Illingworth `he's got the lot' and Illy just nodded. He doesn't give the nod to many doesn't Raymond and I reckon he is a fan. I like the look of him. He can bowl."

Cricketers don't go in for superlatives but when they say "he can bowl" and all the emphasis is on the "can" you know they are impressed.

As for Rashid, I have heard about nothing else recently, but how he will go to Australia, score a century in every Test and bowl out the Aussies, well, as quick as you like.

Not yet, I hope. He is 18 and although he has filled out and got stronger he is at 18 mighty vulnerable and not to be rushed.

The county have big plans for the future. They want to erect �12m worth of new stands and extra facilities, they have got Geoff Boycott aboard to give their ambitions some credence and the whisper is that they are after a big name coach although he may have to start by getting them out of the Second Division after their poor showing this summer.

"Our concerns about Asian and black players are behind us," says the new chief executive Stuart Regan, who is also young, also highly-praised. "We just want the best cricketers." That will be music to the ears of those who thought that Yorkshire would never get used to the idea of players born in another county much less those of a darker colour.

There is a lot of talent in the local leagues, young boys keen to leave the ghettos and make a name for themselves and as cricket has a new credibility since the return of the Ashes they are as likely to choose that route as boxing, football or the more local sport of Rugby League.

Headingley — Yorkshire want it to be called Headingley Carnegie after the Scot who left all that money to be pumped into educational projects — resounds to the noise of drills and hammers and the clang of scaffolding being erected.

There is a new confidence about the place; it is clearly going to thrive in the 21st century. "We have plenty of plans," says the former president Robin Smith — no, not the former England batsman, but a local business tycoon.

There is new confidence too among the Asians who can take advantage of Yorkshire's wish to include them in their plans.

In fact the Asian players who turned up for the third Test — Pakistan that is — did not thrive.

Their fielding and catching let them down, injuries played a part and the umpiring was frankly appalling and probably cost them the game.

The side still made a good fist of winning the match and levelling the series and right until an hour before lunch on the final day it looked as if they might be successful.

In the end one run-out among four cost them the match — caused, ironically, by Younis Khan, man of the match. This Test was played at an incredible rate. On the first day — 347 runs. On the second — 370. On the third — 339. On the fourth — 342. At this point 1,398 runs had come in four days for 30 wickets. Even as Pakistan lost on the fifth day — bowled out for 155 in 47.5 overs the runs still came in a hurry. .

The game was so attractive that when there was a possibility of a tight result on the fifth day — and, more to the point, the probability of a full day's cricket — thousands headed for Headingley.

No tickets are sold in advance for the last day in England so the prices, the ground arrangements from stewards to food all had to be fixed at the last minute.

That is where, I am sorry to say, the club let itself down. Spectators queued for hours as the securitymen went through their duties meticulously, stopped everyone and demanded to know if they were trying to smuggle beer into the ground.

(It did not happen at Old Trafford a year ago when the 10,000 locked out were asked to leave long before the start and when everyone in the ground was able to see the whole day's play.)

Most of those in the queues were Asians, anxious to be part of the day, especially if their team was to win. To their credit when they got in they cheered everything; England success, Pakistan glory, errors, bad errors and glaring mistakes; runs, wickets, dropped catches, diving catches, direct hits, the appearance of Inzamam-ul-Haq after his rib injury, the end of Younis who might have won the match on his own, a wide, no-balls, leg byes.

And when England won they cheered the "reject" Mahmood and went to collect his autograph and wish him well and remind him — and why not? — that he was one of them.

The Asians inside and outside the game represent the future of cricket and what happened at Headingley will be repeated time and again in the next few years.

Brave new world, isn't it? The Scores

Third Test, Headingley, August 4 to 8. England won by 167 runs.

England — 1st innings:

M. Trescothick c & b Sami 28; A. Strauss c Younis b Nazir 36; A. Cook c & b Gul 23; K. Pietersen c Nazir b Sami 135; P. Collingwood c Umar b Gul 31; I. Bell b Kaneria 119; C. Read lbw b Gul 38; M. Hoggard b Gul 0; S. Mahmood b Gul 34; S. Harmison c Sami b Kaneria 36; M.Panesar (not out) 5; Extras (b-13, lb-6, nb-11) 30; Total 515.

Fall of wickets: 1-67, 2-67, 3-110, 4-192, 4-259* (Pietersen, retired hurt), 5-345, 6-347, 7-421 (Pietersen out), 8-445, 9-501.

Pakistan bowling: Sami 26-1-135-2; Gul 29-4-123-5; Nazir 28-7-101-1; Kaneria 34-4-111-2; Umar 2-0-8-0; Butt 4-0-18-0.

Pakistan — 1st innings: S. Butt (run out) 20; T. Umar c Read b Hoggard 7; Y. Khan (run out) 173; M. Yousuf c Read b Harmison 192; I. Haq hit wkt. b Panesar 26; F. Iqbal lbw b Collingwood 0; K. Akmal c Trescothick b Mahmood 20; M. Sami c Harmison b Panesar 19; S. Nazir (not out) 13; U. Gul c Panesar b Mahmood 7; D. Kaneria c Trescothick b Panesar 29; Extras (b-1, lb-20, w-5, nb-6) 32; Total 538.

Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-36, 3-399, 4-447, 5-447, 6-451, 7-481, 8-489, 9-496.

England bowling: Hoggard 29-4-93-1; Harmison 30-1-142-1; Mahmood 24-4-108-2; Panesar 47.4- 13-127-3; Pietersen 1-0-14-0; Collingwood 10-1-33-1.

England — 2nd innings: M. Trescothick c Butt b Gul 58; A. Strauss c Akmal b Sami 116; A. Cook c Iqbal b Kaneria 21; K. Pietersen b Kaneria 16; P. Collingwood b Nazir 25; I. Bell c Akmal b Sami 4; C. Read b Sami 55; S. Mahmood c Akmal b Nazir 2; M. Hoggard c Younis b Nazir 8; S. Harmison c sub (Farhat) b Gul 4; M. Panesar (not out) 5; Extras (b-8, lb-3, w-1, nb-19) 31; Total 345.

Fall of wickets: 1-158, 2-190, 3-214, 4-237, 5-248, 6-299, 7-301, 8-323, 9-332.

Pakistan bowling: Sami 21.3-4-100-3; Gul 20-1-76-2; Nazir 14-4-32-3; Kaneria 33-2-126-2.

Pakistan — 2nd innings: S. Butt c Trescothick b Hoggard 16; T. Umar c Cook b Panesar 11; Y. Khan b Panesar 41; M. Yousuf (run out) 8; F. Iqbal c Read b Mahmood 11; K. Akmal c Read b Mahmood 0; I. Haq st. Read b Panesar 37; M. Sami (run out) 0; S. Nazir c Trescothick b Mahmood 17; U. Gul c Collingwood b Mahmood 0; D. Kaneria (not out) 0; Extras (lb-6, w-5, nb-3) 14; Total 155.

Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-52, 3-68, 4-80, 5-80, 6-112, 7-113, 8-148, 9-149.

England bowling: Hoggard 7-3-26-1; Panesar 17.5-4-39-3; Harmison 15-3-62-0; Mahmood 8-2-22-4.