Afflicted by the cricket equivalent of the golfer’s yips, Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz aborted his run up five times in a row during day two of the second test with Sri Lanka.
With Sri Lanka building a healthy innings of 331 for four, Riaz was brought back into the attack to take some wickets and relieve pressure on team captain Sarfraz Ahmed and head coach Mickey Arthur.
Riaz had been hit for four by the Niroshan Dickwella, and faced the seemingly unmovable force that was Dimuth Karunaratne on 165 runs in the 111th over.
And he must have wished for the ground to open up and swallow him as he pulled up five times, despite remarking his run and taking two practice run-ups during an excruciating over timed at more than seven minutes.
With Sri Lanka on 336 for four, television cameras showed coach Mickey Arthur looking on suitably unimpressed, uprooting from his position in the dressing room in frustration.
The accompanying commentary saw the episode described as both “extraordinary” and “most frustrating”, coming as it did “right in the middle of a Test match when your side need you, as a wicket-taking bowler to come in short bursts to get someone out”
“Pacing out your run up needs to become like eating and sleeping, It needs to be second nature to you, it should be easy for you like breathing, waking up, getting out of bed.”
A change in the pace of overs delivered during One-Day and Test cricket and the difference between bowling around and over the wicket were attributed for Riaz’s difficulties.
Only selected after Mohammed Amir pulled out through injury, Riaz holds the record for bowling more than 100 no balls in his international career.
Salvation for Pakistan eventually arrived in the shape of Yasir Shah, who finished with six wickets after Karunaratne was dismissed just four short of a double century by Mohammed Abbas.