The Pakistan national cricket team (Urdu: پاکستان قومی کرکٹ ٹیم), popularly referred to as the Shaheens (Urdu: شاہین, lit. Falcons), Green Shirts and Men in Green, is administered by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The team is a Full Member of the International Cricket Council, and participates in Test, One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International cricket matches.
The team is considered a strong but unpredictable team. Traditionally Pakistani cricket has been composed of talented players but is alleged to display limited discipline on occasion, making their performance inconsistent at times. In particular, the India-Pakistan cricket rivalry is usually emotionally charged and can provide for intriguing contests, as talented teams and players from both sides of the border seek to elevate their game to new levels. Pakistan team contests with India in the Cricket World Cup have resulted in packed stadiums and highly charged atmospheres. The team is well supported at home and abroad, especially in the United Kingdom where British Pakistanis have formed a fan-club called the "Stani Army". Members of the club show up to matches across the country and are known to provide raucous support. The Stani Army also takes part in charity initiatives for underprivileged Pakistanis, including annual friendly cricket matches against British Indian members of the similar "Bharat Army".
In the home Test series victory against Pakistan in July and August 2006, several promising new players emerged. Most notable were the left-arm orthodox spin bowler Monty Panesar, the first Sikh to play Test cricket for England, and left-handed opening batsman Alastair Cook. The 2006–07 Ashes series was keenly anticipated and was expected to provide a level of competition comparable to the 2005 series. In the event, England, captained by Flintoff who was deputising for the injured Vaughan, lost all five Tests to concede the first Ashes whitewash in 86 years.
More selectorial problems abounded during Atherton's reign as new chairman of selectors and coach Ray Illingworth (then into his 60s) assumed almost sole responsibility for the team off the field. The youth policy which had seen England emerge from the West Indies tour of 1993–94 with some credit (though losing to a seasoned Windies team) was abandoned and players such as Gatting and Gooch were persisted with when well into their 30s and 40s. England continued to do well at home against weaker opponents such as India, New Zealand and a West Indies side beginning to fade but struggled badly against improving sides like Pakistan and South Africa. Atherton had offered his resignation after losing the 1997 Ashes series 3–2 having been 1–0 up after two matches – eventually to resign one series later in early 1998. England, looking for talent, went through a whole raft of new players during this period, such as Ronnie Irani, Adam Hollioake, Craig White, Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash. At this time, there were two main problems:
In 1956 Australia toured Pakistan. Pakistan had a victory against them. They bowled Australia out for 80 in their first innings. Pakistan took a lead of 119 runs when they were dismissed at 199. Pakistan again bowled Australia out for 187 in the second innings, giving the hosts a target of 68. Pakistan won comfortably by 9 wickets. Again, Fazal Mahmood was the chief destroyer, taking 13/114 in the match.
The first recorded incidence of a team with a claim to represent England comes from 9 July 1739 when an "All-England" team, which consisted of 11 gentlemen from any part of England exclusive of Kent, played against "the Unconquerable County" of Kent and lost by a margin of "very few notches". Such matches were repeated on numerous occasions for the best part of a century.
Pakistan's first Test match was played in Delhi in October 1952 as part of a five Test series which India won 2–1. Pakistan made their first tour of England in 1954 and drew the series 1–1 after a victory at The Oval in which fast bowler Fazal Mahmood took 12 wickets. Pakistan's first home Test match was against India in January 1955 at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dacca, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), after which four more Test matches were played in Bahawalpur, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi (all five matches in the series were drawn, the first such occurrence in Test history).
Their fortunes changed on the 1953 Ashes tour as they won the series 1–0. England did not lose a series between their 1950–51 and 1958–59 tours of Australia and secured famous victory in 1954–55 under the captaincy of Peter May, thanks to Frank Tyson whose 6/85 at Sydney and 7/27 at Melbourne are remembered as the fastest bowling ever seen in Australia. The 1956 series was remembered for the bowling of Jim Laker who took 46 wickets at an average of 9.62, including figures of 19/90 at Old Trafford. After drawing to South Africa, England defeated the West Indies and New Zealand comfortably.