The Unpredictables – Part IV: 1970s

Featured Image

Pakistan as a country has been through a number of highs and lows since traumatic partition in 1947 and its cricket has followed the similar pattern, showing how this sport is embedded in social, political and cultural facets of the country. Initially dispersed, unrecognised, underfunded and weak, Pakistan’s cricket team grew to become a major force in world cricket. If cricket is known for its glorious uncertainties, our team is even more notorious for its unpredictability. In this series of blogs we shall dig into social, political, cultural and sporting history of cricket in Pakistan.

Read previous parts here:

 Part I – 1940s: Partition and Founding Stones of Cricket in Pakistan (1947 – 1950)

 Part II – 1950s: Pakistan announces itself to cricket world (1951 – 1960) 

Part III – 1960s: The Lost Decade (1961 – 1970)


Part IV – 1970s: Revival of Pakistan cricket (1971 – 1980)

Pakistan a nation was at its lowest ebb since gaining independence. The political turmoil continued to worsen after the general elections of 1970. All the prospects of political compromise remained poor as Sheikh Mujib remain adamant on his demand for near-total independence: East Pakistan would run all its affairs, including trade and defence, with the sole exception of foreign policy. Bhutto rejected these demands and Six-Point Charted of Awami League. General Yahya suspended the National Assembly in March 1971 with no dates for its restoration. Sheikh Mujib called for civil disobedience and Yahya announced him traitor and ordered Pakistan army to reconquer East Pakistan. East Pakistan fell into civil war.

Sheikh Mujib and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

Sheikh Mujib and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

General Yahya Khan

General Yahya Khan

Pakistan’s tour of England and disappearance of East from Pakistan

Pakistan’s tour of England in 1971, in doubt until the last moment because of the threat of demonstrations and the political situation in Pakistan, was an undoubted success from the playing point of view, even if the Test series was lost by a bare defeat with two matches drawn.

19-year-old Imran Khan being introduced to the Queen of England by skipper Intikhab Alam, 1971

19-year-old Imran Khan being introduced to the Queen of England by skipper Intikhab Alam, 1971

The tour saw the launching of a new batting star who would dominate the Pakistan cricket scene for many years. Zaheer Abbas was then a bespectacled gangly young man who resembled an absent-minded professor. In the first test match at Edgbaston he scored 274, an innings that had experts in rapture. Pakistan scored 608-7 in first innings and made England follow on for the first time against Pakistan. Pakistan ware on the edge of a famous victory, but rain and bad light interfered heavily with the last two days and match was abandoned with England five wickets down and 26 behind.

Zaheer Abbas

Zaheer Abbas

Pakistan lost the series narrowly losing at Leeds, after many twists and turns, by 24 runs but Pakistan had done enough to earn the respect of the cricket world. One other player made his test debut on this tour. A schoolboy called Imran Khan. He bowled fast with a slinging action, with control on neither length nor line. The potential was evident but no one could have foretold that he would one-day become the world’s most charismatic cricketer and who would turn around Pakistan cricket and make them world champions.

Pakistan team returned to a nation confronting mortal threat. As Indian forces gave first covert and then open support to Mukti Bahini guerrillas, Yahya Khan’s army began to lose control of East Pakistan. India declared war and its army marched into East Pakistan, where it overwhelmed the already exhausted Pakistan army in barely two weeks. On December 17, 1971, East Pakistan got separated from West Pakistan.

East Pakistan got separated from West Pakistan in 1971.

East Pakistan got separated from West Pakistan in 1971.

For the next 6 years the country and its cricket were to be run by men with powerful minds, strong personalities and a reform agenda at home and overseas, but also with a gift for making enemies: ZA Bhutto and his old friend and new political follower AH Kardar.

AH Kardar and ZA Bhutto discussing matters of state at Gaddafi stadium. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne

AH Kardar and ZA Bhutto discussing matters of state at Gaddafi stadium. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne)

Kardar in power, Crash-bang ODI cricket and re-birth of Pakistan cricket

Pakistan became cricket’s pariah nation in 1960s. Just as Bhutto rebuilt the country’s international reputation in the 1970s, so Kardar restored Pakistan as a major Test-playing nation. Kardar used his period in charge of Pakistan cricket to galvanise decisive change. He was the first serious cricketer, the first to bring energy and vision to the post, the one of the few with irreproachable personal integrity.

The musical chairs of captaincy continued. In 1972-73 Pakistan toured Australia and New Zealand, losing to Ian Chappell’s Australia by the extravagant margins of 3 – 0 but winning the series against New Zealand. For his efforts, Inthikab Alam, the captain was removed and Majid Khan appointed in his place when Tony Lewis brought an England team. But when Pakistan toured England in 1974, Inthikab Alam was restored as captain. Although the test series was drawn, the team went through the tour undefeated and winning the prudential one-day series 2-0. No other team since Donald Bradman’s all conquering Australians in 1948 had achieved this.

Majid Khan caught Marsh bowled Walker 158. Melbourne 1972. The not-out batsman is Mushtaq Muhammad. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.)

Majid Khan caught Marsh bowled Walker 158. Melbourne 1972. The not-out batsman is Mushtaq Muhammad. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.)

Sadiq Mohammad, Wasim Bari, Aftab Baloch, Zaheer Abbas, Asif Masood and Majid Khan on the 1974 tour of England. Masood, wearing the check trousers, has a bowling run-up that was compared by John Arlott to ‘Groucho Marx chasing a pretty waitress’. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.)

Sadiq Mohammad, Wasim Bari, Aftab Baloch, Zaheer Abbas, Asif Masood and Majid Khan on the 1974 tour of England. Masood, wearing the check trousers, has a bowling run-up that was compared by John Arlott to ‘Groucho Marx chasing a pretty waitress’. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.)

Cricket was changing. The one-day or limited overs cricket that had started as a sideshow was getting to be attractive but was still regarded as crash-bang cricket, a bit of a slog but it was beginning to attract crowds. The first World Cup was played in England in 1975 and Pakistan was captained by Asif Iqbal. The tournament turned out to be a disaster for Pakistan and it exited the tournament in anguish. The West Indies won the tournament in a canter.

The world cup teams pose with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles – Getty Images

The world cup teams pose with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles – Getty Images

Pakistan may have struggled on international stage but there was plenty of domestic cricket to console fans. Moreover, under Kardar the administrative structure of BCCP improved as well. His first priority was to give the Board a permanent headquarters and a well-staff secretariat, so the BCCP was moved to the newly built stadium in Lahore.

Kardar turned to Pakistan’s major banks and companies to finance Pakistan domestic cricket, built new stadium and facilities. He created new first-class and later one-day competitions. In 1974-75 Pakistan saw its first one-day competition, the Servis Cup, with 6 matches.

Kardar was the first Pakistani to play an active role at the International Cricket Conference (renamed from Imperial Cricket Conference in 1965).He brought a difference style as the time for snoring had ended and roaring had to start. He took bold steps. Idea of neutral umpires was first floated by him. Limiting bouncers in an over was also his idea. He was the first one to tackle issue of veto power of England and Australia, although it was removed in 1993. He also pushed for full membership of Sri Lanka.

Mushtaq the new captain, players’ revolt, emergence of Pakistan’s greatest batsman and end of Kardar’s era

Kardar’s ambitions suffered a blow after 1975 World Cup setback. He tried to resume cricketing relations with India but it came too soon after 1971 war, and Pakistan was left with an empty international timetable.

Gap was filled by tour of Sri Lanka which proved disastrous. Pakistan, led by Intikhab Alam, lost both ODIs where 2 test series was drawn 1-1. When New Zealand arrived in Pakistan in the autumn of 1976, he was replaced by Mushtaq Muhammad. This moved would be heavy with consequence.

Mushtaq immediately established himself as a more assertive kind of captain. He insisted on getting players he wanted and stood up for them in unimaginable ways. He has been many a time overlooked due to Pakistan’s subsequent achievements but he is one of greatest captains right along with Kardar and Imran.

When New Zealand came to Pakistan and a young Karachi lad made his test debut. His name was Javed Miandad. He announced his arrival by making 163 at Lahore on debut. He followed it up by making 206 at Karachi, the youngest player at age 19 years and 141 days to make the test double hundred. He was described as the batting find of the decade.

A young Javed Miandad on his way to notch his first Test century.

A young Javed Miandad on his way to notch his first Test century.

However, the series was overshadowed by the revolt of players led by Mushtaq Muhammad. The key demands of the players were the rise in allowances and match fee which had actually been reduced as compared to last home series against West Indies in 1974-75. Pakistan won the series but no bonus was announced by BCCP. During this period Kardar had also fallen out with Bhutto. His role in Pakistan cricket was nearly over. He was a man out of time. As a player and as an administrator, he had brought the national game he loved with such passion to hitherto unimaginable heights.

Pakistan takes on mighty Australians and West Indians

In controversial circumstances Mushtaq Muhamamd led Pakistani side to Australia in 1976-77. The most striking point was the balance between youth and age. Team had outstanding players of 60s – Majid Khan, Asif Iqbal, Wasim Bari, Zaheer Abbas and Sarfraz Nawaz who were joined by a new generation, of whom Javed Miandad and Imran Khan were soon to turn into giants.

The Pakistanis arrived with possibly the best batting combination in Test cricket, but by the time of their departure the team had in Imran Khan a fast bowler who had established himself as undoubtedly one of the finest in the world. Pakistan drew first test and lost second test badly. However the third test was a turning point.

As Sydney test, Imran unleashed a legendary spell of fast bowling. He had remodelled his action into something classical and fearless. He shot out 6 Australians supported by 3 wickets from Sarfraz. Pakistan were 111-4 when Asif Iqbal played an innings of his life making 120 runs, supported by debutant Haroon Rashid’s 57 and Miandad’s 64. With a lead of 140 Imran took a further 6 wickets to win the match.

A 19-year-old Javed Miandad gives a 23-year-old Imran Khan a shoulder massage during Pakistan's Test match against Australia in Sydney in December 1976.

A 19-year-old Javed Miandad gives a 23-year-old Imran Khan a shoulder massage during Pakistan’s Test match against Australia in Sydney in December 1976.

After proving themselves equal to challenge in Australia, Pakistan want to West Indies after 18 years which proved to an interesting series between two evenly matched teams. Each of the five Tests had its particular merit, the West Indies comfortably winning the last to secure a narrow two-one advantage in the rubber. Pakistan’s outstanding performers were the batsmen Majid Khan and Wasim Raja and the fast-medium bowlers, Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz.

A WI feature on Pakistan team’s visit to a WI nightclub during the 1977 Pak-WI tour. Seen from left: Reserve wicketkeeper, Taslim Arif, Stylish Pakistani opener, Majid Khan and Pakistan fast bowler, Sikandar Bakht.

A WI feature on Pakistan team’s visit to a WI nightclub during the 1977 Pak-WI tour. Seen from left: Reserve wicketkeeper, Taslim Arif, Stylish Pakistani opener, Majid Khan and Pakistan fast bowler, Sikandar Bakht.

Pakistan cricket team in WI in 1977

Pakistan cricket team in WI in 1977

Of huge imprortance for the future, their overseas victories in Australia and West Indies were watched by viewers in Pakistan for the first time, through state television. Although most of this team had been at odds with Kardar, and ultimately driven him from office, the status they had earned for Pakistan cricket must have given him satisfaction. It was left to his successor to deal with Kerry Packer.

Coup d’etat, The Packer revolution and cricket resumes with India

Two grave crises faced Pakistan cricket. On July 5, 1977 General Zia, Chief of general staff, declared martial law, ordering arrest of Bhutto and his cabinet and promised election in 90 days. This resulted in drastic changes in management of Pakistan cricket.

The coup was accompanied by Packer revolution in cricket. In May 1977, news broke that the Australian businessman Kerry packer was to stage a breakaway competition in defiance of the national authorities. Although his initiatives were short lived, it changed cricket forever. Day-night matches, white balls, coloured kits, floodlights – the brilliance of the Packer packages permanently changed the way the game has been shown on TV and sold to public.

Source: ESPNCricinfo

Source: ESPNCricinfo

Key players went to play Kerry Packer series which included Asif Iqbal, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Haroon Rahid, Majid Khan, Mushtaq Mohammad, Sarfraz Nawaz, Taslim Arif and Zaheer Abbas. Packer players were banned. England toured Pakistan in 1977. The three test match series ended 0-0 whereas England won three match ODI series 2-1.

15

Kerry Packer

Kerry Packer

After the series lesson was learnt and ban was lifted in order to restore a strong national team. Arif Abbasi was asked to handle negotiations. He would later transform PCB and country’s cricket.

After a gap of 17 years, India led by Bishen Bedi toured Pakistan. Mushtaq Mohammad was Pakistan’s captain; the tradition of changing captains was being maintained. Pakistan won the series 2-0, a series that was dominated by Zaheer Abbas but saw two fantastic run chases at Lahore and at Karachi in which, apart from Zaheer Abbas – Asif Iqbal, Javed Miandad, and Imran were also involved. Bishen Bedi, a great left arm spin bowler is remembered in Pakistan as the bowler who was hit for two consecutive sixes by Imran Khan at Karachi and which enabled Pakistan to win the match. Sadly, Bishen Bedi lost his job as captain of India.

The Ladies stand at the Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan v India, second Test, Lahore, October 1978-79.(Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.)

The Ladies stand at the Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan v India, second Test, Lahore, October 1978-79.(Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.)

After the triumph over India, Mushtaq led his team to New Zealand and Australia. Pakistan won the series against New Zealand 1-0. However, the short Australian series was packed with brilliance and controversies which include infamous run out of Rodney Hogg by Javed Miandad, run-out of non-striker Sikander Bakht for backing up too far and handling the ball out of Andrew Hilditch. However, the moment of series was Melbourne Test – Australia was cruising to victory (303-3 on course for target of 382) until Sarfraz produced a sensational spell of 7 wickets for 1 run with an old ball. Later this performance would be ascribed to the fiendish Pakistani invention of reverse swing.

Pakistan falters again in World Cup and defeat in India

Politically the situation was tense in Pakistan. Since taking over General Zia had the former Prime Ministers ZA Bhutto controversially tried executed by Supreme Court on April 4, 1979. This is viewed by many as judicial murder of the most popular and strong civilian leader of Pakistan ever.

ODI was gaining popularity with each passing day. Second Cricket World Cup was held in England in 1979. Asif Iqbal was made captain for the tournament. Pakistan began with easy wins against Canada and still Packerless Australia. However, in third group match Pakistan choked after reducing England to 118-8, Bob Taylor and Bob Willis were allowed to put on 43. Pakistan collapsed to 34 for 6. Asif, Wasim Raja and Imran put on fight but Pakistan lost the match.

They were still through to semi-finals but unfortunately against WI. WI put on 293 but Pakistan got all out on 250 with 4 overs still to go.

Teams led by their captains in World Cup 1979

Teams led by their captains in World Cup 1979

Asif was most consistent performer during world cup which ensured he remained captain for tour of India. Pakistan lost the six-test series 2-0. The weakened attack never bowled out India twice and India escaped several times from losing positions. There were news of quarrels and detachment among team members. Asif lost captaincy after the series.

Javed Miandad becomes captain

Defeat by India in 1979-80 was viewed in Pakistan as a national disaster and led to changes at the top. Asif Iqbal was removed from captaincy and General Azhar Khan from BCCP’s presidency. Air Marshal Nur Khan was appointed President of BCCP. Javed Miandad was appointed Pakistan’s new captain. His reign began well; however, unfortunately he was unable to overcome the resentment of senior players later.

Javed Miandad led Pakistan against Greg Chappell’s Australians, an eminently forgettable series played on flat, lifeless pitches apart from Karachi, where Pakistan won. Greg Chappell scored a double century at Faisalabad and so did Taslim Arif for Pakistan. Denis Lille took only one wicket on that tour. A worse advertisement for test cricket was hard to imagine. The next series against West Indies was better but it was lost by Pakistan.

The world cricket had already entered into its golden era. Next task ahead for Javed Miandad was to lead his side on tour of Australia in 1981-82.

 

Wisden’s Player of Year during decade of 70s: Zaheer Abbas (1972)

 

Continued…

Next in ‘The Upredictables’ series: 1980s: The Asian cricket tigers take on the world

 


Sources:

  • Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack
  • ‘Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan’ by Peter Oborne
  • ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier
  • ESPNcricinfo archives (www.espncricinfo.com)
  • ‘Cricket Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport in Pakistan’ by Shaharyar M. Khan and Ali Khan
  • Imran Khan’s Autobiography ‘Pakistan: A Personal History’
  • ‘All round view’ by Imran Khan
  • ‘Controversially Yours’ by Shoaib Akhtar
  • Cricket Archive (www.cricketarchive.com)
  • PTV Sports (sports.ptv.com.pk)
  • Pakistan Cricket Board (www.pcb.com.pk)

This blog was first published on Pak Tea House: Episode 1, Episode 2.

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The Unpredictables – Part III: 1960s

Featured Image

Pakistan as a country has been through a number of highs and lows since traumatic partition in 1947 and its cricket has followed the similar pattern in direct proportion, showing how this sport is embedded in social, political and cultural facets of the country. Initially dispersed, unrecognised, underfunded and weak, Pakistan’s cricket team grew to become a major force in world cricket. If cricket is known for its glorious uncertainties, Pakistan team is even more notorious for its unpredictability. In this series of blogs we shall dig into social, political, cultural and sporting history of cricket in Pakistan.

Read previous parts here:

 Part I – 1940s: Partition and Founding Stones of Cricket in Pakistan (1947 – 1950)

 Part II – 1950s: Pakistan announces itself to cricket world (1951 – 1960) 


 

Part III – 1960s: The Lost Decade (1961 – 1970)

Pakistan cricket was now undergoing a swift decline. Pakistan entered into international cricket with a bang in 1950s. In its very first decade of cricket, it played 29 Test matches of which they won 8, lost 9 and drew 12 – an impressive beginning for the ‘babes of cricket’. Pakistan had a unique record of winning at least one test match in first series against every opponent.

1960s was a complete contrast to 1950s. Pakistan won just 2 Tests out of 30 played, both against New Zealand. 8 were lost whereas 20 were drawn. Pakistan cricket was overcome by a morbid defensiveness. Cricketers only goal was to avoid the defeat.

Pakistan in India 1960-61

Fazal Mahmood took Pakistan to India in 1960-61 and all the tests were drawn. This was one of the dullest Test series in history. The enthusiasm and expectation of the crowds contrasted with the boredom and ill-temper of the play. Wisden 1962 recorded that

‘the chief aim of the contestants appeared to be to uphold national prestige by avoiding defeat rather than to take the risk of trying to enforce a decision. Cricket was a secondary interest.’

Nari Contractor and Fazal Mahmood at toss. (Source:ESPNCricinfo)

Nari Contractor and Fazal Mahmood at toss. (Source:ESPNCricinfo)

Though there were useful contributions from Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Ahmed and Imtiaz Ahmed, the quality of cricket was poor and it was an eminently forgettable series, so much so that Pakistan and India did not play against each other for another 17 years though this had more to do with the fragile political relations between the two countries than with cricket.

Pakistan was now caught in a treacherous transition as many senior players, including great Kardar and Fazal, had retired and the new entrants lacked the experience. Almost 20 years would pass before Pakistan experienced cricketing fulfilment again.

Pakistan cricket in crises

Kardar’s team had reflected the hope, confidence and exuberance of Jinnah’s newly created Pakistan which had faded by now. Ayub Khan’s dictatorship imposed a pattern of conformism on Pakistan society that found its way onto the cricket field and did not lift until the emergence of ZA Butto and his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) at the start of the 1970s.

In 1950s, the key to Pakistan victories was the fast bowling, as would be the case in future after 1970s. Pakistan’s best blowers in 1960s were spinners – Mushtaq Muhammad, Pervez Sajjad and Intikhab Alam. Moreover, due to financial crises many talented and ambitious players moved out of Pakistan for livelihood. Among them the prominent were Mushtaq and Khalid Ibadullah.

Pervez Sajjad

Pervez Sajjad

Mushtaq Mohammad

Mushtaq Mohammad

Khalid Ibadullah

Khalid Ibadullah

Intikhab Alam

Intikhab Alam

A further problem was lack of government support for the game. Today cricket is recognised as the national game, but it was not the case in Pakistan’s early decades. Games like Hockey and Lawn Tennis received huge grants from government whereas cricket received nothing or very less comparatively.

Pakistan found it very hard to obtain international opposition during 1960s. On average the team would play just 3 tests a year, and in both 1963 and 1966 there were no Tests at all. Fazal was written off by the selectors after the tour of India. Pakistan reverted to the situation of the late 1940s, when it was starved of international cricket and therefore dependent on wandering sides, or series against non-Test playing countries such as Ceylon or Kenya.

Pakistan’s 1962 tour of England 

For Pakistan’s tour of England in 1962, a relatively unknown Javed Burki was appointed captain. He had played for Oxford and toured India with Pakistan in 1960-61. Although Burki’s appointment proved disastrous, AR Cornelius’s choice looked sensible at that time.

Brigadier ‘Gussy’ Haider towering over the 1962 Pakistan touring team. Those standing from left to right: Javed Akhtar, Munir Malik, Imtiaz Ahmad, Captian Javed Burki, the Baggage Master, Brigadier Haider, Fazal Mahmood, Alimuddin, Mushtaq Mohammad and Nasim ul Ghani. Crouching down at the front, from left to right: Wallis Mathias, Afaq Hussain, Asif Ahmed and Intikhab Alam (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne

Brigadier ‘Gussy’ Haider towering over the 1962 Pakistan touring team. Those standing from left to right: Javed Akhtar, Munir Malik, Imtiaz Ahmad, Captian Javed Burki, the Baggage Master, Brigadier Haider, Fazal Mahmood, Alimuddin, Mushtaq Mohammad and Nasim ul Ghani. Crouching down at the front, from left to right: Wallis Mathias, Afaq Hussain, Asif Ahmed and Intikhab Alam (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne

It turned out to be a catastrophic tour and Pakistan was beaten, the only positive feature being centuries by Nasim-ul-Ghani and Burki in the Lord’s test match, which Pakistan, in any event, lost. Midway through the tour Fazal was flown to reinforce the bowling but alas he was well past it. The Oval hero of 1954 had become The Oval zero. It did no justice to this legendary bowler who perhaps should have remained retired.

After the 1962 fiasco in England, Pakistan would not be allowed by Lord’s to undertake a full five-test tour of England for about a quarter of a century. Shuja-ud-Din called it ‘the lowest and most depressing point in the history of Pakistan cricket.’

Finally some success

Hanif Mohammad was made captain of Pakistan for a short tour of Australia in 1964-65 and in the only test match played, he came within a whisker of making 100 in each innings – 103 and 93 – a performance that was warmly lauded by Sir Donald Bradman and there can be no higher praise. Pakistan team included 6 debutants and 2 of them, Asif Iqbal and Majid Khan, opened the bowling. The match ended in a draw and many viewed that Pakistan was invariably too defensive to create a real winning chance.

Asif Iqbal

Asif Iqbal

 

Majid Khan

Majid Khan

Almost immediately after the drawn game in Karachi, Hanif led Pakistan team on a 4 Test tour of Australasia – 3 matches against New Zealand and 1 against Australia. Majid Khan did not tour because, so the Australians insisted, he threw the ball.

Pakistan was insulted again by being given only one Test on their visit to Australia in 1964-65, although Australia had no other international commitments. Pakistan drew the match, thanks to two fine displays by Hanif of 104 and 93 in each innings.

The action then moved to New Zealand for a three test match series between two of the weakest cricketing nations of the world at that time. On the one hand, neither side was good enough to score many runs; On the other hand, neither side was good enough to bowl the other out. All the three tests ended in draw.

Two months later New Zealand returned to Pakistan, playing no preliminary matches and going straight into a Test at Rawalpindi. Pakistan finally tasted success by winning the match by an innings and 64 runs. Majid, after resolving his action, was back in the team but Pakistan’s match winner was the slow left-arm bowler Pervez Sajjad, who destroyed New Zealand in their 2nd innings with figures of 12-8-5-4 as New Zealand collapsed from 57-2 to 59-9. Pakistan ultimately won the series 2-0, Hanif continuing in his excellent form, making 203 in the Lahore test match. But new players were pressing their claims, chief among them Asif Iqbal and Majid Khan.

Cricket in backdrop of war

Pakistan had no chance to build on victories against New Zealand as shortly after the series war broke out with India. The War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April 1965 and September 1965 between Pakistan and India. Between the culmination of war on September 23, 1965 and the end of the decade, Pakistan would play only 9 Test matches, 6 against England. More than 3 years would pass until Pakistan hosted another home Test, 7 years before they next played Australia, 10 years before they next played West Indies, and 13 years before their next Test against India.

An image from 1965 War between Pakistan and India.

An image from 1965 War between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan’s cricket was from this point overshadowed by political chaos. President Ayub Khan became more autocratic – continuing to rule through emergency legislation, sacking ZA Bhutto as foreign minister in 1966 and ordering arrest of Sheikh Mujib on charges of conspiring with India. The political crises and war had led to the total secession of East Pakistan from cricket.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

 

Sheikh Mujib

Sheikh Mujib

Cricket returns

Almost two years passed since the end of the war before Pakistan was presented with another chance to impress in the Test arena. By now they were the forgotten team of international cricket.

In 1967, Pakistan toured England with Hanif as captain. It was a summer of mixed fortunes. At Lord‘s, Hanif Mohammad played an innings that was out of character for him. Associated with stodginess and the ability to drop anchor and shore up the innings, Hanif made 187 not out, an innings that sparkled, that lit up Lord’s and amazed, pleasantly, his devoted fans. He batted as if he had something to prove. Considered vulnerable against genuine fast bowling, he was particularly severe on John Snow, laying to rest the myth that quick bowlers could intimidate him.

Hanif Mohammad introduces Khalid Ibadullah to the Queen at Lord’s, 1967. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne)

Hanif Mohammad introduces Khalid Ibadullah to the Queen at Lord’s, 1967. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne)

Family conference: Mushtaq, Hanif and a youthful Sadiq Mohammad pictured during the Pakistan tour of England, 1967. (Source: ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier)

Family conference: Mushtaq, Hanif and a youthful Sadiq Mohammad pictured during the Pakistan tour of England, 1967. (Source: ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier)

 That particular test match was drawn but had Pakistan gambled on taking their chances, they could have won it. They chose safety. They lost the other test matches, but at The Oval, Asif Iqbal who was mainly a bowler who could bat, played an innings of such astonishing ferocity that the jury of those who picked the man of the match had to change their candidate. Asif Iqbal made 146 and with Inthikab Alam, who made 51, put on 90 for the ninth wicket, a record. The fact that the series had been lost was forgotten in the euphoria of this innings. It was a pedigreed innings that established him as a front rank batsman.

Asif Iqbal batting during the first test against England in 1967. (Source: ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier)

Asif Iqbal batting during the first test against England in 1967. (Source: ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier)

Political turmoil and further cricket isolation

By the late 1960s, Pakistan was in the grip of two simultaneous revolutions. In the West, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto launched his PPP with an ambitious manifesto to take advantage of the growing revulsion against Ayub Khan’s faltering dictatorship. 1000 miles away in the East Pakistan, Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League (AL) dominated the political scene and was raining its demands. It drew up the Six-Point Programme, which demanded almost total economic, fiscal, legislative and military separation. Serious clashes broke out between protestors and the police and army.

It was amid of this environment national instability, great danger and looming tragedy that the 1969 MCC tour took place. Pakistan was facing the greatest crises of its short history and its survival was uncertain. For the majority of English players, the tour would provide the most terrifying days of their lives.

When Mike Smith brought the England team in 1968-69, Hanif Mohammad had been given the sack and Saeed Ahmed was appointed captain. All the three matches were drawn. The Test matches rather served as rallying points for the agitators. The tour programme was changed when MCC arrived. It was further changed to restore Dacca to the fixture list after days of political manoeuvring.

Rioting broke out on the first day of the Test in Lahore, and the match was never free from disorder. In Dacca, law and order had broken down completely. The police and military had been withdrawn, and left wing students claimed to be in control. The Second Test was understandably disturbed by rowdiness. Finally the trouble reached breaking point, even for the politicians and diplomats who were so long-suffering at the expense of others, during the Karachi Test. The match was abandoned before the first innings had been completed and the tour abruptly ended an outcome which had long appeared inevitable.

The main action was now off the pitch. An old and ill man, Ayub, who had ruled Pakistan for longer than anyone before or since, urged his commander-in-chief, Yahya Khan, to assume power and impose martial law.

New Zealand tour of Pakistan and First General Elections in Pakistan

Two domestic tournaments were used to be played during the period, Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and Ayub Trophy. 7 teams – including all 4 from East Pakistan refused to play in Ayub trophy. The find of these two tournaments was youthful, as yet uncapped, Zaheer Abbas who was leading batsman in both competitions.

Zaheer Abbas

Zaheer Abbas

New Zealand toured Pakistan in 1969-70. Pakistan had another captain, Inthikab Alam. It was in this series that the youngest of the brothers Sadiq Mohammad made his debut while his brother, the legendary Hanif retired or more probably was made to retire. It was an unworthy end to a great career but unlike army generals who just fade away, Pakistani sportsmen are simply discarded when their use-by date expires. Pakistan lost the three match series 1-0.

General elections were held for the first time in the history of Pakistan on December 7, 1970, although the polls in East Pakistan, originally scheduled for October, were delayed by disastrous floods and rescheduled for later in December and January 1971. The results of the election saw the AL win a majority of seats, 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan. In the West Pakistan, ZA Bhutto’s PPP surprised everyone by winning 85 seats. However, the President of Pakistan, Yahya Khan never handed power to AL, which triggered mass uprising in East Pakistan. The cricket was suffering amid this political chaos.

The Pakistan Television (PTV) election cell during general elections of 1970.

The Pakistan Television (PTV) election cell during general elections of 1970.

Wisden’s Player of Year during decade of 60s: Mushtaq Mohammad (1963), Hanif Muhammad (1968), Majid Khan (1970)

 

 

Continued…

Next in ‘The Unpredictables’ series: Part IV – 1970s: Revival of Pakistan cricket 


Sources:

  • Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack
  • ‘Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan’ by Peter Oborne
  • ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier
  • ESPNcricinfo archives (www.espncricinfo.com)
  • ‘Cricket Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport in Pakistan’ by Shaharyar M. Khan and Ali Khan
  • Imran Khan’s Autobiography ‘Pakistan: A Personal History’
  • ‘All round view’ by Imran Khan
  • ‘Controversially Yours’ by Shoaib Akhtar
  • Cricket Archive (www.cricketarchive.com)
  • PTV Sports (sports.ptv.com.pk)
  • Pakistan Cricket Board (www.pcb.com.pk)

This blog was first published on Pak Tea House.

The Unpredictables – Part II: 1950s

Pakistan as a country has been through a number of highs and lows since traumatic partition in 1947 and its cricket has followed the similar pattern in direct proportion, showing how this sport is embedded in social, political and cultural facets of the country. Initially dispersed, unrecognised, underfunded and weak, Pakistan’s cricket team grew to become a major force in world cricket. Pakistan cricket team is regarded as the most unpredictable and mercurial team. In this series of blogs we shall dig into social, political, cultural and sporting history of cricket in Pakistan.

Read Part I here Part I – 1940s: Partition and Founding Stones of Cricket in Pakistan (1947 – 1950)


 

Part II – 1950s: Pakistan announces itself to cricket world (1951 – 1960)

Famous victory against MCC and ICC’s test status

MCC’s 1951-52 tour was of India, Pakistan and Ceylon was just six weeks away and a big challenge confronted Kardar to build the team. MCC was the name under which England teams toured overseas until 1977. It was a contest between father and children of the game.

Pakistan’s first match against MCC was at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore around mid-November 1951. MCC batted first on a lively pitch and struggled against pace of Khan Muhammad and leg-spin of Amir Elahi who took 5 and 4 wickets respectively. MCC was bowled out for 254.

Maqsood Ahmed a former Pakistan stylish test batsman © PCB

Maqsood Ahmed a former Pakistan stylish test batsman © PCB

Pakistan in reply posted a mammoth score of 428-8 (declared) with help of aggressive Maqsood Ahmad’s, known as ‘Merry Max’, 137, Ebrahim Gahazli’s 86 and crucial 48 runs by Kardar. By now the pitch was pacified, and MCC lost only 1 wicket in scoring 368 to save the game. Wisden made important comments on this match:

 ‘Expecting a reasonably quiet time in Pakistan, MCC found the standard of cricket higher than expected.’

The first match also coincided with Kardar’s marriage to Shahzadi, sister to his team-mate Zulfiqar Ahmad. The MCC travelled to the wedding on special tongas from Faletti’s Hotel, where they were staying.

If there is any match of more significance after the final of 1992’s Cricket World Cup for Pakistan cricket, it has to be second match of touring MCC in Nov-Dec 1951 at Karachi GymKhana Ground. Kardar was lucky to lose toss to MCC captain Nigel Howard. The ball swung nastily for 2 days and MCC were all out for 123 in first innings. It was time for Fazal Mahmood to shine at international level who took 6 wickets for 40 runs. However, Pakistan batting also fell apart and scored only 130 runs. MCC played much better in second innings and scored 291 runs thus giving a target of 285 runs for Pakistan to win, a task that looked beyond them.

A 5ft 3in tall, weighing merely 60 kg approximately, with a crouching batting stance and ultra-defensive technique defied the MCC Test-class attack of Statham, Shackleton and Tattersall for 4 hours. Hanif Muhammad announced himself to international cricket and scored 64 runs as opener. Later Kardar scored a critical half century and Fazal struck the winning runs for Pakistan.

There was jubilation and celebration all around, as ground echoed with slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad!’ by some 20,000 spectators. There was political turmoil in the country and cricket seemed to be one thing that guaranteed unity and offered triumph. A consequence of this win was that Pakistan gained international recognition and was given full test status by the ICC on July 28, 1952. Pakistan cricket had arrived.

Kardar and Fazal with Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimudin after third match against MCC at Karachi.

Kardar and Fazal with Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimudin after third match against MCC at Karachi.

First official test series of Pakistan

The romance with the game of cricket in Pakistan had begun. Pakistan toured India in 1952-53 for playing its first official test series. It was a team that was lacking in experience, only Kardar and the ageing Amir Elahi had played test cricket. But what the team lacked in experience, it made up in enthusiasm. Pakistan lost the 5 match series 2-1, but not without notching up a spectacular win in the Lucknow test match, Pakistan’s first test victory.

Amir Elahi © PCB

Amir Elahi © PCB

The match at Lucknow, second of the series, was played on a jute-matting wicket. Though he had never played on such a surface before, it suited Fazal Mahmood. Amarnath won the toss and decided India would bat first. By tea-time Pakistan bowled them out for 106. Fazal destroyed Indian batting and ended up with figures of 5-52. ‘He was man inspired to crush Indian batsmen’, recorded Kardar.

In reply Pakistan posted score of 331 with the help of brilliant 124 by Nazar Muhammad. In second innings Fazal started from where he had left and took 7 more wickets as India lost by an innings. Indian team endured the hostility of crowd as abuse and stones were pelted by the crowd on team bus.

Lucknow University 1952 – Imtiaz Ahmed, Hanif Mohammad, Abdul Hafeez kardar and Fazal Mahmood

Lucknow University 1952 – Imtiaz Ahmed, Hanif Mohammad, Abdul Hafeez kardar and Fazal Mahmood

The tour had generated goodwill on the both sides of the border. It has established Pakistan as a Test-Playing nation. Now Pakistan had something exciting to look forward to: MCC now extended Pakistan an invitation to play 4 tests in England, the home of cricket, the following summer.

Inception of domestic cricket

Named after Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, who was known as “Quaid-e-Azam” (Great Leader), the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (QAT) was introduced in the 1953-54 season to help the selectors pick the squad for Pakistan’s Test tour of England in 1954. 5 regional and 2 departmental teams competed in the first competition: Bahawalpur, Punjab, Karachi, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh, Combined Services and Pakistan Railways.

Historic victory at Oval – the defining moment of Pakistan cricket

If one has to identify the defining moment in history of Pakistan cricket it has to be Pakistan’s tour of England in 1954. Dubbed as “the babes of cricket” and mercilessly but affectionately patronised by the English media, Pakistani was to pull off one of the greatest upsets in cricket when it beat England at The Oval and drew the series.

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Pakistan team was in tatters as it approached the fourth Test match at the Oval: Kardar’s job on the line, dissension in the camp, ridicule in the press, and Pakistan’s position as a Test nation in question. In many teams everything would have fallen apart, but not Kardar’s babes.

Kardar won the toss and defiantly chose to bat. Hanif got out LBW to Statham in first over. Statham, Tyson and Loader demolished Pakistan batting as Pakistan was bowled out for a disgraceful 133. However next morning Pakistan had its first piece of luck on tour as a monsoon-like outburst turned Oval into a lake and wiped out the day’s play.

Fazal became lethal and took 6 England wickets for 53 runs in a spell of 30 consecutive overs, Hutton, May, Compton and Graveney among his victims. Mahmood Hussain played an excellent support role by taking 4 wickets. England was bowled out for 130.

Mahmood Hussain © The Cricketer International

Mahmood Hussain © The Cricketer International

Pakistan was back in game. Second innings started badly again and Pakistan were 82-8 at one stage. Then Wazir Mohammad managed two gutsy partnerships with Zulfiqar Ahmad and Mahmood Hussain which put together crucial 82 runs. England needed 168 runs to win.

Fazal bolwed the spell of his life and took 6 wickets for just 43 runs. England was bowled out for 143 and Pakistan won the match by 24 runs. Pakistan’s name had come prominently on the map of international cricket. The English were stunned and the newspapers wrote that England had been “Fazalled”. The team received the tumultuous reception when it arrived home. Cricket had ceased to be the game for the elite. It had become a national passion and the fortunes of the cricket team were to be forever linked to the pride and aspirations of the country.

Oval test match in Oval, this is still a record that this was the first team to beat England in England in their very first series. Imtiaz Ahmed caught behind 7 players in this match

Oval test match in Oval, this is still a record that this was the first team to beat England in England in their very first series. Imtiaz Ahmed caught behind 7 players in this match

The Pakistan team, led out by Fazal Mahmood, leave the ground after levelling the series. (Soruce: ESPNCricinfo)

The Pakistan team, led out by Fazal Mahmood, leave the ground after levelling the series. (Soruce: ESPNCricinfo)

India’s and New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan, a solitary match with Australia and humiliation of a Pakistani Umpire

Very few Test series have been expected so eagerly as the India’s tour of Pakistan which followed the Oval test victory and few have disappointed so much. The scoring rate rarely exceeded 2 runs per over. At the end of the 5-match series ended 0-0, the first time in history that such a thing had ever happened. After the fourth drawn Test in Peshawar in 1954-55, the Ambala Tribune published match report entitled ‘Match Saved but Cricket Killed’.

Both the 1952-53 and 1954-55 Test series took place against the background of threats and sabre-rattling speeches by political leaders. It was becoming evident that Tests between Pakistan and India had developed a unique sensibility. Those who were normal became slightly insane. Those who were already troubled were temporarily blinded with a kind of madness.

Shuja-ud-Din (a future army colonel and historian of Pakistan cricket), right, going out with Alimuddin to open Pakistan’s second innings in the third Test at Lahore against India, 1955. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Petper Oborne).

Shuja-ud-Din (a future army colonel and historian of Pakistan cricket), right, going out with Alimuddin to open Pakistan’s second innings in the third Test at Lahore against India, 1955. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Petper Oborne).

Unusually Pakistan faced two touring teams in the winter of 1955-56. The first tourists were New Zealand. This three-Test series, won 2-0 by the home side, showed that Pakistan were capable of playing beautiful and fluent cricket. The contrast with rancorous and damaging series that started just 6 weeks later, against a touring party sent over by the MCC, is striking.

MCC ‘A’ team visited Pakistan in 1955-56 and is mainly remembered for the Peshawar incident in which some members of the MCC team roughed up the standing umpire Idris Beg. The MCC ‘A’ team came close to being asked to pack their bags and go home. Some seven team members of MCC travelled by tonga up to the Services hotel, adjacent to the cricket ground where both Idris Baig and the Pakistan team were staying. They abducted Idris Baig and took him on tonga, driven by England player, to Dean’s hotel. They made him sit down in a chair under the skylight where the buckets of water awaited him.

MCC tourists to Pakistan, 1955 – 56, arrive back at London Airport. The tour was marred by controversy following the treatment meted out to umpire Idris Baig. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.

MCC tourists to Pakistan, 1955 – 56, arrive back at London Airport. The tour was marred by controversy following the treatment meted out to umpire Idris Baig. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne.

In 1956 Australia, led by Ian Johnson played a solitary test match at Karachi which Pakistan won convincingly on a matting wicket, Fazal Mahmood and Khan Mohammad being more than a handful for a tired Australian team that was returning from England after being soundly thrashed. The Australian side was full of famous names – Neil Harvey, Richie Benaud, Alan Davidson, Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller.

President Iskander Mirza watching Pakistan defeat Australia in October 1956. Mirza is sitting next to his prime minister, Huseyn Suhrwardy. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne).

President Iskander Mirza watching Pakistan defeat Australia in October 1956. Mirza is sitting next to his prime minister, Huseyn Suhrwardy. (Source: ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne).

Pakistan in West Indies, world records and retirement of AH Kardar

In 1957-58 Pakistan toured the West Indies, their first visit abroad since the England tour of 1954. It is hard to recapture today the magnitude of the journey upon which the Pakistan cricket team embarked to the Caribbean in December 1957. It was a team that left in high hopes but these hopes were dashed and Pakistan lost the series but was able to win the final test match. Two world records were established in this series. Gary Sobers passed Len Hutton’s record of 364, the highest in the test by an individual and made 365 in the Kingston test match, and Hanif Mohammad made a monumental 327 at Bridgetown, Barbados, batting for 970 minutes, and saving a test match that Pakistan seemed certain to lose. It established Hanif Mohammad as a legend of the game.

Hanif Muhammad walks back after his epic 337. (Source: ESPNCricinfo)

Hanif Muhammad walks back after his epic 337. (Source: ESPNCricinfo)

Kardar retired after this series. Under his leadership, Pakistan had won at least one test match against every opponent. He had instilled discipline in the team and had drilled the will to win within the team members, something that Imran Khan was to do later.

A Military Coup, Hanif runs out on 499 and Fazal replaces Kardar

The departure of Kardar coincided with the collapse of civil administration in Pakistan, In October 1958, President Iskander Mirza proclaimed martial law, only to be overthrown himself a few weeks later by the man he appointed  chief martial law administrator, General Ayub Khan. The provinces were divided into smaller local units and it reflected in cricket administration as well. The Punjab Cricket Association broke up into associations for Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi, and the Sindh Association split between Khairpur and Hyderabad.

The QAT in 1958-59 was dominated by an extraordinary batting feat in the semi-final between Karachi and Bahawalpur, the defending champions. Hanif Muhammad batted for mammoth 635 minutes and scored 499 runs when he was eventually run out while going for his 500th run. 29 year old record of Bradman for highest first-class score had fallen. Ayub Khan gave Hanif a specially struck Pride of Performance medal.

Fazal Mahmood took over the captaincy, a natural successor to Kardar, and met with immediate success when the West Indies toured Pakistan in 1958-59, winning the series though one felt that the umpiring standards left much to be desired. Gary Sobers failed to make any big scores and fell victim to some dodgy decisions. He makes bitter mention of the tour in his book. But at Lahore another two records were set. Mushtaq Mohammad at the age of 15 years and 124 days became the youngest player to play test cricket and Pakistan lost its first match on its soil. The West Indies, led by a blistering 216 by Rohan Kanhai romped home to an innings win.

Richie Benaud’s Australians came in 1958-59. It was a disastrous series for Pakistan as it lost the three match series 2-0. After the third test match Ayub Khan was lobbied by Richie Benaud, who urged him for the sake of Pakistani cricket to eliminate matting. The new president and patron of BCCP listened to him and issued an order for all first-class grounds to install turf wickets. Thus Pakistan has Benaud to thank for the development of its cricket facilities.

14

 

Wisden’s Player of Year during decade of 50s: Fazal Mahmood (1955)

 

Continued…

Next in ‘The Unpredictables’ series: Part III – 1960s: The Lost Decade


Sources:

  • Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack
  • ‘Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan’ by Peter Oborne
  • ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier
  • ESPNcricinfo archives (www.espncricinfo.com)
  • ‘Cricket Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport in Pakistan’ by Shaharyar M. Khan and Ali Khan
  • Imran Khan’s Autobiography ‘Pakistan: A Personal History’
  • ‘All round view’ by Imran Khan
  • ‘Controversially Yours’ by Shoaib Akhtar
  • Cricket Archive (www.cricketarchive.com)
  • PTV Sports (sports.ptv.com.pk)
  • Pakistan Cricket Board (www.pcb.com.pk)

This blog was first published on Pak Tea House.

The Unpredictables – Part I: 1940s

Featured Image

The eternal drama of Pakistan cricket never ceases to fascinate the fans of Cricket game. Why would it? There are only few teams in world cricket, rather world sports, as unpredictable and mercurial as Pakistan. They will be a laughing stock one day with their amateur performance and next day exhibit flamboyant performance with ability to beat best in the world. If not for Pakistani cricket team, cricket would have been the most boring sport of the world.

Pakistan as a country has been through a number of highs and lows since traumatic partition in 1947 and its cricket has followed the similar pattern in direct proportion, showing how this sport is embedded in social, political and cultural facets of the country. Initially dispersed, unrecognised, underfunded and weak, Pakistan’s cricket team grew to become a major force in world cricket. In this series of blogs we shall dig into social, political, cultural and sporting history of cricket in Pakistan.

Part I – 1940s: Partition and Foundation Stones of Cricket in Pakistan (1947 – 1950)

The trauma of partition

August 14, 1947 – newly created boundaries of Pakistan and India emerged on the map of the world as a result of partition of the Indian sub-continent. An ambitious young fast bowler, Fazal Mahmood, was not going to let political and social chaos, prevalent at that time, to get in the way of his dreams. He left Lahore and made over a 1000 kilometres journey through Punjab and Sindh to reach Bombay, when millions of Muslim migrants were making the journey in an opposite way i.e. from India to Pakistan. From Bombay, Fazal went to Poona to report at All-India training-camp organised for selecting a squad for the upcoming tour of Australia. The camp was abandoned after few days due to non-stop monsoon rains and chaotic political situation. Fazal had to make a risk journey back to Lahore and very nearly met a bloody end on the train back from Poona to Bombay. Hindu fanatics would have lynched him but for the intervention of his travelling companion, the Indian cricket legend CK Nayudu, who defended Fazal against attackers with his cricket bat.

Fazal Mahmood  (Source: ESPNCricinfo)

Fazal Mahmood
(Source: ESPNCricinfo)

The story of Fazal portrays what inhabitants of two nations went through. Fazal was back in Lahore on September 13, 1947. After immense family pressures and with extreme reluctance, Fazal cabled Lala Amarnath, Indian team’s captain and cricket legend, saying that he would not be able to join the tour. This decision turned out to be one of the most important decisions of his life and one of the greatest blessings for Pakistan cricket. Few years later, Fazal would become the instigator, torchbearer and legend of fast bowling in Pakistan cricket.

2

The beginnings – Setting up cricket administration body

The official national sport of Pakistan is Hockey but practically it’s the game of cricket. However, this was not the case at the time of partition. Pakistan inherited very little by way of industry and infrastructure when it separated from the rest India. The biggest challenge for the government was to construct the new country’s economic, industrial, social and sports infrastructure.

3

Development of any sport is directly related to environment in which it evolves – Pakistan cricket has not been different in this respect. The game of cricket was virtually unknown throughout much of rural areas of Pakistan. Even in the urban centres of Lahore and Karachi, cricket was played mainly by upper–middle classes. The game structure was weak with just two turf wickets in the whole country, at Lahore and Karachi. Most of the players who were to represent Pakistan early years came from Lahore – products of Government and Islamia colleges and clubs such as Crescent and Mamdot. Some of them had played in the Ranji trophy, the premier domestic tournament of pre–partition India. The future of Pakistan cricket was looming in dark as it could have become a mere satellite of India. However, Pakistan hung on as a result of sheer hard work and determination.

For quite some time Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) held Pakistan to ransom. Either it could have first class and Test cricket as part of India – or not have first-class cricket at all. Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) indicated to BCCI that it would prefer India to remain, for cricketing purposes, a single country. For Pakistan, to go it alone meant a giant leap in the dark but it was determined to do so.

The idea of a cricket board was first floated in the summer of 1947 and after preliminary work over course of a year; Board of Control of Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) was formally founded on May 1, 1948 at a meeting in the pavilion of Lahore Gymkhana Cricket Ground.

The first president of the BCCP was Khan Iftikhar Hussain Nawab of Mamdot. It had three vice-presidents: Justice AR Cornelius, Lt Col. Baker and Mr Britto. KR collector was made the secretary of the Board. Hussain provided the much needed social and political strength. Cornelius, a brilliant man who would later become Chief Justice of Pakistan, provided the intellect to organise the daily affairs. He followed cricket on craze basis. Collector’s home at 72 Garden Road, Karachi was the first official address of BCCP. Diversity of the background of these cricket administrators can be judged by the fact that Cornelius and Britto were Christians; Collector was a Parsi and Col. Baker was an Anglican – reflecting the Jinnah’s vision for a liberal Pakistan.

Justice AR Cornelius

Justice AR Cornelius

A key decision that was made at first meeting was to ask Governor-general Jinnah to become patron of BCCP. It might have been a necessity at that time but it certainly paid a heavy price in future. Since inception, the post has been used to accommodate political cronies by the governments in power.

Preliminary structure of first-class cricket

The situations was so grim in early years that throughout the 1947–48 season only one first-class game was played, a traditional fixture between Punjab University and Governor of West Punjab’s XI, at magnificent Lawrence Gardens (now called Bagh-e-Jinnah).The match was hosted by Sir Fancis Mudie, governor of West Punjab, who was one of a handful officials and military officers who had been personally requested by Jinnah to stay behind after independence. All most all of the great cricketers of the time, including Fazal Mahmood, Jahangir Khan, Nazar Muhammad and Mian Mohammad Saeed, played in the match which ended in draw.

Nazar Muhammad (Source: ESPNCricinfo)

Nazar Muhammad (Source: ESPNCricinfo)

Lahore GymKhana Cricket Ground, Bagh-e-Jinnah Lahore

Lahore GymKhana Cricket Ground, Bagh-e-Jinnah Lahore

There were just 5 domestic first-class fixtures in the 5 years after independence whereas India hosted 88 Ranji Trophy fixtures during this period. Cricket in Pakistan was limited to one-day club games and certain school and inter-university fixtures. Although it played an essential role in maintaining a cricket culture, it was not enough. BCCP needed to take immediate steps to set up first-class structure. In the absence of serious domestic cricket, the only way to do this was to attract international teams to Pakistan.

Beginning of international games for Pakistan

The efforts of BCCP finally paid off. West Indies (WI) was the first international team, which toured Pakistan and for Pakistani cricketers it was a portentous occasion. WI had taken a break from their 5 test tour of India to play at Pakistan and considered it just a relaxing break. Infact, Lala Amarnath told WI captian John Goddard, ‘It is just a schoolboys’ team’. This remark got back to the Pakistan players, who were enraged.

West Indian captain John Goddard and Pakistani captain Mian Muhammad Saeed

West Indian captain John Goddard and Pakistani captain Mian Muhammad Saeed

The tour started with a drawn game against Sindh Province in Karachi. Next stop was Rawalpindi where WI payed against General Sir Douglas Gracey’s eleven, then the commander-in-chief. Pakistan’s cricketers were disgracefully dismissed for 96 in their first innings, and lost the match by 9 wickets.

Now came the major event of the tour, Pakistan vs WI at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore. Pakistan was captained by Mian Muhammad Saeed. Mian Saeed, the first captain of Pakistan, had a career that extended from 1930 to 1954. He played for various Indian teams, including Southern Punjab in the Ranji Trophy, in the 1930s and 1940s, and for Punjab cricket teams in Pakistan in the 1940s and 1950s.

The opening pair, Imtiaz Ahmed and Nazar Muhammad put on 148 for the first wicket, but thereafter the team bundled out to a disappointing 241. The opening bowler, Munawwar Ali Khan, regarded as fastest bowler in Pakistan, got his team off to a scintillating start by dismissing George Carew, opening batsman, and skipper John Goddard on first two deliveries of the first over. He broke the stump in to two when he dismissed Goddard who was very annoyed at being misled by Indians. WI, however, then recovered to a total of 308 in first innings.

Imtiaz Ahmad (Source: ESPNCricinfo)

Imtiaz Ahmad (Source: ESPNCricinfo)

 

Munawwar Ali Khan

Munawwar Ali Khan

In second innings, Imtiaz and Saeed gave a thrashing to WI bowlers by scoring centuries and putting on a stand of 205 for the second wicket. Eventually the game ended out as a draw. However, by giving tough competition to WI, Pakistan cricketers had made a perfect start in their pursuit of Imperial Cricket Conference’s (ICC) recognition as a Test-playing country.

In the following April, Pakistan team toured Ceylon (name changed to Sri Lanka in 1972) for a two match series. Pakistan beat them by an innings in the first ‘unofficial Test’ and by ten wickets in second.

Pakistan was gradually acquiring a settled look with Nazar Mohammad and Imtiaz Ahmad forming a strong opening pair, Mian Saeed and Alimuddin providing solidity to middle order and Khan Mohammad along with Fazal Mahmood forming a deadly bowling partnership.

Khan Muhammad

Khan Muhammad

In November 1949 Commonwealth XI visited Pakistan which majorly composed of players whose careers were nearing an end. It was a humiliating result for Pakistan as its batting failed twice in the match played at Bagh-e-Jinnah. At the end of the game furious crowd threw stones and verbal abuse at Pakistani players. People called for game to be abandoned. Cricket in Pakistan was breathing its last.

Emergence of AH Kardar

Mian Saeed had set the ground work for Pakistan cricket. He deserved to be forgiven for the fiasco at the Bagh-e-Jinnah against the CommonWealth XI and probably would have been but for the fact the Abdul Hafeez Kardar had returned to Pakistan after an absence of almost 5 years.

Brought under controversial circumstances, Cornelius and Kardar then formed a formidable partnership to achieve an uphill task facing Pakistan – to achieve the status of Test-playing country. Kardar, emerging from Oxford, was marked out as a future leader of Pakistan. It has been widely believed by most of Kardar’s fellow cricketers that he was set upon dislodging Mian Saeed, and undermined his standing by refusing to play under his captaincy.

The Oxford University side against MCC in 1948. (Back row) Nigel Bloy, William Davidson, Jika Travers, Christopher Winn, Basil Robinson. (Middle row) Abdul Kardar, Philip Whitcombe, Tony Pawson, Anthony Mallett, William Keighley. (Sitting) Clive van Ryneveld, Hubert Webb. © MCC

The Oxford University side against MCC in 1948.
(Back row) Nigel Bloy, William Davidson, Jika Travers, Christopher Winn, Basil Robinson. (Middle row) Abdul Kardar, Philip Whitcombe, Tony Pawson, Anthony Mallett, William Keighley. (Sitting) Clive van Ryneveld, Hubert Webb.
© MCC

Kardar had played test cricket having toured England with the Indian team in 1946 and having played both for Oxford and Warwickshire. Kardar took great pride in dressing like an English gentleman, but as he became more confident, “he acquired a post-colonial sensibility.” The English way of running the game no longer appealed. This conversion had consequences for Pakistani cricket, which began to focus inwardly. It learnt to run before it could walk – playing Test cricket before there was a domestic structure in place.

The immediate challenge which faced Kardar after taking over was the task of leading country against MCC, the name under which England team used to tour overseas, which was to tour Pakistan in November 1951.

 

 Key Players of 40s: Nazar Muhammad, Khan Muhammad and Mian Muhammad Saeed

 

Continued…

 Next in ‘The Unpredictables’: Part II – 1950s: Pakistan announces itself to Cricket World (1951 – 60)


Sources:

  • Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack
  • ‘Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan’ by Peter Oborne
  • ‘The Pakistani Masters’ by Bill Ricquier
  • ESPNcricinfo archives (www.espncricinfo.com)
  • ‘Cricket Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport in Pakistan’ by Shaharyar M. Khan and Ali Khan
  • Imran Khan’s Autobiography ‘Pakistan: A Personal History’
  • ‘All round view’ by Imran Khan
  • ‘Controversially Yours’ by Shoaib Akhtar
  • Cricket Archive (www.cricketarchive.com)
  • PTV Sports (sports.ptv.com.pk)
  • Pakistan Cricket Board (www.pcb.com.pk)

This blog was first published on Pak tea House.

Book Review: “Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan” by Peter Oborne

The eternal drama of Pakistan cricket never ceases to fascinate the fans of Cricket game. Why would it? There are only few teams in world cricket, rather world sports, as unpredictable and mercurial as Pakistan. They will be a laughing stock one day with their amateurish performance and next day exhibit elated panache with ability to beat best in the world. If not for Pakistani cricket team, cricket would have been the most boring sport of the world.

Pakistan as a country has been through a number of ups and downs since traumatic partition in 1947 and its cricket has followed the similar pattern in direct proportion, perfectly summing up what this sport means to this country. Initially dispersed, unrecognised, underfunded and weak, Pakistan’s cricket team grew to become a major force in world cricket, explains Peter Oborne in his book “Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan”. Packed with memories from former players and top administrators, and digging deep into political, social and cultural history, this book is major study of sport and nationhood of Pakistan.

For cricket enthusiast and lovers like me who grew up watching sports in 1990s and 2000s derive inspiration from likes of Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam ul Haq, Muhammad Yousaf, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Misbah ul Haq and Saeed Ajmal. We are not much aware of the cricket history and heroes before 90s. That is why the first half of the book which analyses Pakistan cricket from partition to 1980s was the best part for me. The book provided, in a smooth free flowing manner, a brilliant narrative of drama, politics, jokes and personalities of that era.

The book starts with a focus on the trauma of partition of 1947 and a particular focus on the lives of the two early heroes of Pakistani cricket: Abdul Hafeez Kardar and Fazal Mahmood. Kardar and Justice Cornelius were in some senses the creators of Pakistan’s cricket. Cornelius was a brilliant man who was vice-president of Board of Control of Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) and later become Chief Justice of Pakistan. They formed a formidable partnership to help Pakistan achieving an uphill task of Test-playing nation. Kardar could often be seen cruel and intolerant but he was ultimately driven by passionate belief in the honour of Pakistan. Fazal Mahmood was the early instigator of a fast bowling tradition that has been backbone of great Pakistani cricketing sides over the years. It was emotional to read that Fazal on the way back to Pakistan from the camp in India after partition in 1947 would have been lynched by Hindu fanatics on a train were it not for the legendary Indian cricketer C K Nayudu, who defended Mahmood with his cricket bat.

The cricketing story of a decade and a half after the partition as narrated in the book is simply exhilarating. The exuberance of the cricket of this period seemed intertwined with the task of nation-building. The first Pakistani tour of India, victory at oval in 1954, India’s tour of Pakistan, the touring English MCC team’s kidnapping of a Pakistani umpire, exciting encounters with teams of West Indies and Australia, supremacy of Mohammads of Karachi and Burkis of Lahore, batting heroics of Muhammad Hanif and deadly bowling due of Fazal and Khan Muhammad – all of these have been told with a great mixture of drama, wit and charm.

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

The book wandered in middle during the epochs of 60s and early 70s just like middle overs of a One Day match innings – slow in tempo but engaging. 1960s was a difficult period for cricket in Pakistan, which Oborne terms as ‘a lost decade’. In the 1960s, Pakistan won just two tests out of 30 played, both against New Zealand. Eight were lost, while 20 were drawn. Pakistan cricket was overcome by a morbid defensiveness. Avoiding defeat became the height of national ambition.

As the cricket entered its golden era in 1970s, the shape of Pakistani cricket started to change on positive note as well. The revolt of players against AH Kardar, administrator at that time, marked the transition. In 1976 the national side, hardened to defeat for so long time was suddenly stronger, angrier and more motivated capable of beating any side in the world. The team was fantastically led by attacking captain, Mushtaq Muhammad. Team had perfect balance of age and youth: Majid Khan, Asif Iqbal, Wasim Bari, Zaheer Abbas, Sarfraz Nawaz joined by new generation, of whom Imran Khan and Javed Miandad were soon to turn into giants.

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

The book also touches the strong sense of Pakistan how it has been unfairly treated across the global community and press, particularly England. Javed Miandad’s batting achievements were undermined by an abrasive reputation. Imran Khan was portrayed as a “not especially gifted cricketer” in contrast to someone who was “always learning, always seeking to improve himself and always seeking out responsibility”.

Imran Khan and Javed Miandad formed a formidable partnership which took Pakistani cricket to great heights in 80s and 90s. Imran took charge of Pakistani team at vital moment of its cricketing history and Pakistani cricket came of age during that period. Pakistan cricketers were no longer patronised by the dominant white cricketing nations. Instead, they came to be feared and resented.

Two discoveries stand out during that period, Oborne explains. First one was the reverse swing. It was pioneered by Sarfraz Nawaz, passed on by Imran Khan to two Ws, Wasim and Waqar, who mastered it perfectly. Reverse swing became a primary cause of estrangement between Pakistan and white cricket nations in 1990s. Second was more of a rediscovery. It was emergence of wrist bowling in form of magician Abdul Qadir who was discovered by Imran.

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

Pakistan was in disarray going into 1992 World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand. After a dismal start the cornered tigers were lifted by great leadership of Imran and Miandad’s consistency under pressure, who took Pakistan all the way to the final to lift the greatest prize of World Cricket.

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

Pakistan cricket grew to altogether new levels in 1990s and 2000s marked by great victories and fight backs. Cricket which used by a game of urban upper-middle class people became a game of lower-middle class persons. Cricket grew geographically which was supported by financial revolution. However, this period was also marred by curse of match fixing, the Justice Qayyum report and spot fixing allegations in 2010 which resulted in ban of trio Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir. It also faced an age of isolation post 9/11 attacks when various teams refused to visit Pakistan on a number of occasions.

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

Pakistan had a bright moment in 2009 when it won T20 World Cup under captaincy of Yonis Khan. However there was horrible moment too in same year. In 2009, as the Sri Lankan cricket team were on their way to a Test in Lahore, their team bus was attacked by militant gunmen. Since then Pakistan has played its home cricket in the UAE. Oborne remarks that against such a background, it seems miraculous that the game exists at all, let alone is considered by Pakistanis as their pride and joy.

Misbah-ul-Haq took over captaincy of a dejected Pakistani team. The task he faced was far more difficult than any previous captain, including AH Kardar. He had to lead a cricket team in exile, deal with constant charges of corruption and match-fixing, and confront a chaotic administration. Oborne has rightly put in his book that it speaks volumes for the character of Misbah who took the challenge and led team by example, self-belief and courage.

Source: "Wounded Tiger" by Peter Oborne

Source: “Wounded Tiger” by Peter Oborne

‘Wounded Tiger’, Winner of the 2004 William Hill Sports Book of the Year, is not just about presenting a fascinating picture of story and characters of Pakistan cricket. It recognises the “beauty” of Pakistan with its ever-present follies. From the uncertainty over the ages of the record-breaking “teenaged debutants” to “master inventors” and the most shrewd of tacticians to the ability of pulling out surprises that is unique to Pakistan alone.

The following excerpt from the book perfectly sums up the nature of Pakistan and its cricket:

 “Everywhere I went in Pakistan, I was aware that people feel a huge sense of pride in their country. This pride expresses itself through the cricket team, whose white clothing against a green field nearly matches the colours of the national flag. Cricket is the game of the villages; it is the game of the towns. It is the game of the old; it is the game of the young, the rich and the poor. It is played in the plains of the Sindh and in the mountains of the north. It is played by the army and the Taliban. It is enjoyed by all Pakistan’s sects and religions. It is part of Pakistan’s history and also its future. It is magical and marvellous. Nothing else expresses half so well the singularity, the genius, the occasional madness of the people of Pakistan, and their contribution to the world sporting community.”

My rating of the book 8/10.


This blog was published on Pak Tea House.

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I Declare!

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare my full support to a Democratic system in Pakistan. A Democratic system, implemented in its letter and spirit, is the only way forward for a progressive Pakistan. Our country has suffered a lot during dictatorial regimes. Questions about quality of democracy can always be posed, but then answer to it lies only in supporting and evolving this system over a period of time. Democracy is always a work-in-process.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that no one is above law, including those in government. A government is elected by the vote of the people and answerable to law and people.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that sanctity of my vote should be protected by the state. I struggled and took time to cast my vote for the people whom I think are right for the job. It is the responsibility of the state to protect and preserve the sanctity of this right. If there are any doubts or question marks on validity of votes, it is the responsibility of the state to inquire and investigate it in a free and fair manner.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare to remain civil and obedient to my state. Government and State are two different entities and I believe fulfilling my duties to state will strengthen my country. I believe in civilised and constitutional struggle for my rights as was done by Founder of my country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that terrorism is the biggest threat to existence of our country. I extend my full support to Pakistan Army and Zarb e Azb operation to get rid of the menace of Talibans and terrorism plaguing my country. I want my country to prosper by leaps and bounds and stand right with the most progressed nations of the world.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that all citizens of my country have equal rights irrespective of one’s cast, creed, sect or religion. I condemn persecution and killing of religious and sectarian minorities. I believe in liberal and tolerant Pakistan as envisaged by its Founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that every citizen of my country is innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around. I believe that I neither have right of judging other nor hurling accusations without proof.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that verbal cross fires lacking facts and constructive arguments leaves no difference between a literate and an illiterate person. A degree does not necessarily mean education. Even an illiterate man is educated who makes sane decision. Having ‘high emotional quotient’ is real education. I respect the opinion of every other citizen and do not judge or abuse them if it differs from mine. Tolerance is the mainstay of any progressive democratic society.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that protest is my constitutional and moral right. I should not be disallowed from protest against something which I perceive as wrong. Constitution of my country ensures freedom of expression. However, I also declare that my ego will never come in way of my protesting rights. My country does not have to suffer in clash of egos.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that citizens of my country should get rid of hypocrisy prevailing in all walks of our life. Examples should be set by changing oneself not forcing others. Citizens of this country should get rid of intellectual, financial and moral dishonesty in their personal lives.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that no taxation without representation. Elected parliamentarians are servants of the citizens, not masters. Democratic process is about equal rights for all, not monarchy.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that our state should focus on nation building. Political and religious rhetoric and populism should be discouraged.

I, Fazal Abbas, a citizen of Pakistan hereby declare that I love my country and think same about my fellow citizens. I do not have any right to question patriotism of any of my fellow citizens.


This blog was published on Pak Tea House.