Multan Test pitch preview with Fred Durst

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England’s win over Pakistan in Rawalpindi has given rise to several highly annoying articles asking whether Ben Stokes’ team are changing Test cricket forever. Maybe a bit, maybe not so much. Does it matter? Can’t it just be a great Test victory on a fairly awful pitch?

Because that really was the defining element of the first Test. The win wasn’t remarkable because England triumphed over Pakistan. The real feat was triumphing over the benign surface.

In that context, scoring 500 runs in a day isn’t so much a sign of things to come; it’s more a symptom of a team who haven’t yet been dissuaded from playing in a particular way employing that approach to the full in conditions that really maximised the return.

As such, it seems pertinent to ask not whether such a relentless batting onslaught will become commonplace but whether it will ever happen again.


This leads us on to the pitch where the second Test will take place. We don’t know much about the surface at the Multan Cricket Stadium, so we sought a bit of insight from someone who has rather more expertise in this area – Limp Bizkit frontman, Fred Durst.

Fred Durst says…

It’s never really come to wider public knowledge, but fans of my highly awful band, Limp Bizkit, will tell you that I’ve always had a keen interest in horticulture.

This goes all the way back to the time of our first US number one album, Significant Other, when I got away from the pressures of success by setting up a number of beds containing different growing media back at my homestead in California. It was a somewhat rudimentary attempt to gain a better understanding of soil classifications, but I found the experience fascinating and my enthusiasm (and plants) only grew from there.

By 2006, when the band was on hiatus, I had found myself increasingly drawn to the preparation of sports pitches and cricket pitches in particular. I have since undertaken a number of courses with the UK’s Grounds Management Association and I’m now studying for my Level 6 GMA Professional Certificate in Turf Surface Consulting.

It’s been a long road, but by this point I like to think I know a thing or two.

Now, I’ve only managed to grab a fleeting glimpse of the surface in Multan and we’re still a day or so out from the game, so the following really does need to be seen in that light. However, based on what I’ve seen, it does look like we could be in for something not wildly dissimilar to the last match.

While it hasn’t hosted a Test since 2006, the history of Multan Cricket Stadium does partially support this view. Pakistan made 546-3 in the first Test played here against Bangladesh in 2001 with no fewer than five centurions. (This wasn’t actually every Pakistan batter who came to the crease as Inzamam-ul-Haq retired hurt for 105. Poor Faisal Iqbal was the one to miss out, bowled for 9 after a 168-run opening partnership.)

It was also in Multan where Virender Sehwag made 309 off 385 balls in 2004, walking off at the end of the first day unbeaten on 228.

While that suggests heavy run-scoring could again be on the cards, it’s worth emphasising that both of those matches ended in innings victories. There has in fact only been one draw in the five Tests Pakistan have played here – the most recent one against the West Indies in 2006. On that occasion the home team inched to 357 all out at less than three runs an over before the Windies went past their total thanks to 216 off 262 balls from Brian Lara.

Usual Lara rules apply there, I’d say: Don’t draw too many conclusions. Lara was a bit different.

So I would expect a good few runs this week, but spin should also play a part. Yasir Shah took 10 wickets in the last first-class match there, back in October.

Fog, smog and daylight hours could be issues though, so both teams will again be fighting time as much as each other.

Before I go, can I just quickly draw your attention to my latest film – yes, I also make films now – The Fanatic, starring John Travolta. Critics are calling it “cliche-filled”, “improbable”, “pretentious”, “miserable” and “completely shallow”. Give it a try! See if you agree!

Hey why not have a read about the King Cricket crowdfunder? You don’t have to contribute anything to it. It’s just a good explainer of how this website is run, if you don’t already know.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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    1. I fully expected his pitch preparation advice to be something like ‘keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ ‘, so good to see he takes a more measured approach to the art than he did to his lyrics.

      I am a bit worried that all the patreon money is going on funding these celebrity cameos though, I’m sure the likes of Durst, Swift and Chalamet command high fees for contributions.

      1. Rest assured, A P Webster, that like all the biggest media outlets we always seek to pay our contributors in that most useful commodity, “exposure”.

      2. Surely Durst is paying KC, not the other way around.

        I have carefully examined the top 10 Fred Durst quotes on Let’s put to one side the oxymoronic feel to that last sentence.

        Anyway, point is, I suspect that KC has had a hand in ghost writing that piece for Durst. There’s just something about the grammatical structure…the tone…I can’t quite put my finger on it. Heck, maybe I’m completely wrong.

      3. I am with Ged here. An American would never say “US number one” – he would simply say “Number one” and when quizzed whether it is US or the world, would reply with some version of “Is there a difference?”

    1. Bold to replace an all-rounder with a bowler. We’d argue asking a batter to keep is actually uncharacteristically cautious.

  1. Bazball Vs Mystery Spinner.

    It’s the ultimate test, you’d think. Bazball’s policy of hitting everything as if it is a straight long hop. Mystery Spin’s attribute of making straight long hops unexpectedly turn through ninety degrees. The result, so far, is a slight win for spin. 200 for five, all wickets to Abrar Ahmed.

    But it’s not so much of a win that the run rate is under control. It’s still pushing six an over.

  2. According to the BBC’s Stephan Shemilt, 24-year-old Ahmed “took advantage of a pitch offering excessive turn”.

    Somerset have duly been docked 12 points.

  3. This ought to have been predictable. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Durst has been asleep at the wheel on this one. If there’s one thing a captain needs from a founder of a third-rate nu-metal band, it is accurate pitch information.

    Now sure, he might claim that he’s only had a fleeting glimpse of the pitch from afar, and that his involvement was all in someone’s imagination in any case, but he can’t survive in the job after this. Already I’ve seen tweets from as disparate a group as Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky, calling for his removal (actually, “purging”). And if those guys are agreeing on something, you know it’s serious.

    1. Yes, we’ve been having ‘robust’ discussions with the lad. We’re going to give him a chance to defend himself, but it honestly feels like he’s prioritising his GMA studies over the journalism that we asked him to do free of charge. Maybe even the filmmaking too.

      Not the band though. Pretty hard to detect any effort put into that one.

      1. I think that’s a good approach, KC, to give him another chance, we can’t go back to dropping somebody after one test match. He just needs to figure out what’s important right now – certainly not his music.

      2. You always take a chance with these selections, like maybe their heart’s elsewhere, but we do at least feel confident his heart isn’t in music. That’s pretty obvious to anyone with ears – even just eyes is probably enough if you see one of their videos.

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