In the history of test cricket, several English batsmen, notably Geoff Boycott, Chris Tavare and, before them, Trevor ‘Barnacle’ Bailey, have garnered a reputation for snail-paced scoring, so there is a certain irony in the fact that the slowest century in test cricket history was scored against England. In the first test of a three-match series between Pakistan and England, staged at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in December, 1977, England won the toss and elected to bowl. Twenty-one-year-old Mudassar Nazar opened the batting for Pakistan and, with the home side reduced to 49-2 on a difficult wicket, effectively ‘dropped anchor’. At stumps on the first day, Mudassar was 52 not out and he continued in similar vein when play resumed the following morning.
Indeed, even as his hundred approached, Mudassar showed no urgency in his batting and, if anything, became even more defensive. Just one short of his century, the increasingly fractious crowd invaded the pitch, resulting in running fights with the police. The players took an early tea and play resumed, albeit 25 minutes late, with Mudassar still ‘poised’ on 99 not out. Finally, after facing 419 deliveries and spending 557 minutes, or the best part of nine-and-a-half hours, at the crease, Mudassar reached a hundred. When he was finally caught and bowled by off-spin bowler Geoff Miller, he had scored 114 off 449 balls in 591 minutes, at a strike rate of 25.38.