First Test, Pakistan v Australia (Dubai) – Day 5: Adrift, disoriented

Pakistan 454 (Younis Khan 106, Sarfraz Ahmed 109, MG Johnson 3/39 (31))

Australia 303 (DA Warner 133, Yasir Shah 3/66)

Pakistan 2d/286 (Ahmed Shehzad 131, Younis Khan 103*)

Start of play, Day 5.

Australia 2nd innings 59/4 (CJL Rogers 23*, SPD Smith 3*, 23 ov)


I have been only the humblest jugglers-with-facts; and that, in a country where the truth is what it is instructed to be, reality quite literally ceases to exist, so that everything becomes possible except what we are told is the case; and maybe this was the difference between my Indian childhood and Pakistani adolescence–that in the first I was beset by an infinity of alternative realities, while in the second I was adrift, disoriented, amid an equally infinite number of falsenesses, unrealities and lies.”

– Salman Rushdie, “Midnight’s Children”



The day five story is the story of when my kick-run-jump-leap-destroy-look-at-me-look-at-me-look-at-me child self of brashness of thought and brashness of action crashed in upon the wizard of self-reflection and spin and turn and drift who was working hunch-backed and mysteriously away over his looking water pond in the desert of Dubai.


The Australian cricket team, I had been but a pre-natal quavering in India in 2012/13 as I lost 0-4 (and despite (yes despite) winning four-out-of-four tosses of the coin and on every occasion choosing wisely to bat). The dusty wickets and shifty eyes of millions of conjurers left my petulant swings of the bat looking as one-dimensional boorishness; my leaden-footed indiscriminant advances to the spinners looking recklessly speculative at best.


I was born into dusty wickets in England in 2013 as G Swann and reverse swinging J Anderson bullied and gloated and danced over the collapsing and technically deficient batting house of cards I constructed time after time after time (losing the games where I lost the toss, drawing those where I won the toss. The toss, the toss. Luck plays no part?)


I came of a talking and of a walking age in Australia in 2013/14 beating the deckchair English 5-0 on fast pitches (and hark, yes, I did win the toss for the first four matches to lead 4-0. But why do you ask?)


And I developed a self-confident manner and cocksure strut in South Africa in 2013/14 beating the best in the world on their home grounds, 2-1. It was a time marking the end of my childhood. Losing the toss and winning the First Test at Centurion (see?!). Losing the toss again but losing the Second Test at Port Elizabeth. And then, the decider in Cape Town. The biggest of my life, the game that marked the end of my childhood and start of the next phase of this life. I won the toss, won the match, took the last wicket required with minutes to spare, and I was success, I was life itself, I was winning from tight spots and I was application for reward. I was belief. So many alternative realities and open doors and always the possible the possible the possible.


And so to the bewitching sands of the desert and its shadow people, desert decorated incongruously with omnipresent polished western steel and polished western concrete and a polished western glass formed from building sites staffed by a gigantic casual workforce of labourers too disposable to ask for better conditions and thereby going weeks months years without ever seeing their loved ones back home on the sub-continent and also staffed by many western office types too greedy and besotted by the dollar to see their loved ones back home in Australia and instead hoping believing praying that the telegrammed money sent back to Pondicherry Hyderabad Pokhara Sydney Brisbane Melbourne may be felt by those left behind as warmly as a hug.


And so into calamity I walked as a young male lion walks blithely into a trap as the hunters of Pakistan captured me and for five days brought me systematically and crushingly undone amid appeals and yelps and floggings and clatterings of wickets and wallops of boundaries and eons of dot-balls under the sun the heat the shimmering sky. I had lost the toss.


I was found wanting and left in the desert to ponder as my spinners were crashed carted smacked to all parts and as my top order largely threw their hands away through acts of impatience overreach stupidity and the schemers and swarmers of Pakistan and the timeless presence alone of the Pakistan members throbbed and blinded my sunspotted vision. I was out. I was done. I was cooked.


I battled on using only a rare combination of adolescent verve and newly found adolescent resolve and beyond any reasonable anticipation, prolonged the game beyond tea on the final day. But an inevitability prolonged is still an inevitability.


Pakistan defeated Australia by 221 runs

Pakistan lead the two test series 1-0.


Pakistan 454 & 286/2d

Australia 303 & 216 (91.1 ov)


The next step on my very faltering and very human journey I will take on October 30; Day 1 of the Second Test. I wonder…

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. You beautifully capture the hypnotic delusion of facing spinners on a dusty turner in the desert heat. Patience, patience, patience. Thanks David.
    I was thinking about the huge advantage of batting first in these conditions, and wondered if Test Cricket hadn’t become a prolonged version of Two Up. Everything else is just noise after the coins hit the ground.

  2. Classic piece E.

    Eating a bit of humble pie on slow turning pitches won’t hurt the development of these players.

    My kingdom for a spinner who turns the ball!!

  3. Great work Mr Wilson. With your S Rushdie prologue I expected a diatribe on TA’s TA (Tony Abbott’s Team Australia)!

    What I got was much better. Your use of comas was as beguiling as Pakistan’s spin; weaving and wending and in just the right moment, disrupting the game.

    And as to Clarke’s Team Australia, what do they learn from this game? Do they grow up? Or are they stuck in perpetual adolescence?


  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Dave. As long as our playing of and bowling of spin on turning wickets stays at the adolescence stage, wins in the Sub-continent and the UAE will be few. Expect more dry, turning pitches in England next year.

  5. G’day all.
    Thanks very much.
    For Australia, much to do, much to do, yet relax relax relax.

  6. David- you’re in spectacular form! Such rollicking, wild prose (even if the cricket was not). Besides Rushdie, your report reminded me of James Joyce, which is high praise indeed! The long, vivid sentences, which leap and bounce and cart the reader along. Great stuff.

    I look forward to your words on the second Test.


  7. G’day Mickey,
    Ahh, that’s too kind.
    Glad that you enjoyed the ride.
    Calling for cricket correspondents for the 2nd Test now – on another thread.
    Whaddoya say?

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