The Unpredictables – Part V: 1980s

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, Pakistan team is even more renowned 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)


 

Part V – 1980s: The Asian Cricket Tigers Take on the World [1981 – 1990]

In a low scoring series against West Indies (WI) Miandad had batted better than most along with Wasim Raja. However he faced acute hostility from senior players, especially his vice-captain Zaheer Abbas. Nevertheless he led Pakistan to tour of Australia in 1981-82.

Revolt against Miandad and start of Imran’s era

Pakistan played 3 tests during the tour and lost series 2-1. However, Pakistan showed great fight in third test in which 6 batsmen made fifties in first innings. Imran bowled fierce spells of bowling and Pakistan won by an innings and 82 runs. Pakistan could manage to win only 4 out of 10 round matches in Benson & Hedges ODI World Series Cup. However, the highlight of the tournament was infamous confrontation between Miandad and Denis Lillee during the first test. Lillee was fined and banned for two ODIs later. Javed remarks were: “We were after all only Pakistan and he felt he could take liberties with us.”

Denis Lillee and Javed Miandad in a fight

Denis Lillee and Javed Miandad in a fight

Sri Lanka toured Pakistan in 1981 – 82 and almost 10 senior players refused to play under Miandad’s captaincy. Miandad voluntarily stepped down after second test match. Imran was made captain which bitterly disappointed Zaheer Abbas again. Pakistan won 3-Test and 3-ODI match series 2-0 and 2-1 respectively.

It was a time for revolution in world cricket. One Day (ODI) cricket was gaining popularity day by day though Test cricket was still regarded as foremost and serious cricket. For Pakistan it was start of Imran’s era.

Imran Khan takes over

Imran Khan has been described as an authoritarian. It is true that he demanded and got his own team and selection committees all but became redundant. But he got results and no one could have accused him of being anything but fair minded. He believed in winning and was not afraid to lose. He wanted what he considered the best team. He even sacked Majid Khan, his cousin, from the team believing that the majestic batsman was past his prime. He took the Pakistan team to England in 1982, lost the series 2-1, but not without a tremendous fight that saw Pakistan win the test match at Lord’s in which Mohsin Khan scored a double century and Imran himself showed his development as an all-rounder. The lesson had been learnt. Pakistan was not to lose another test series against England, either in England or at home. Imran set about restructuring the Pakistan team. He was not afraid of raw and inexperienced youngsters and throwing them in the deep end. He believed in ‘on the job training’.

Imran Khan took 7 for 52, England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Edgbaston, 1st day, July 29, 1982. (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

Imran Khan took 7 for 52, England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Edgbaston, 1st day, July 29, 1982. (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

Mohsin Khan’s 200 vs England at Lords in 1982

The balance of power was tilting. Pakistan cricketers were no longer patronised by dominant white cricketing nations rather they came to be feared and resented. Pakistan provided cricket the flavour which Brazil provided to football. Two discoveries under Imran’s period stand out: swing blowing, reverse swing in particular, and emergence of wrist blowing in form of Abdul Qadir, an artist with the ball.

Abdul Qadir, the magician with ball

Abdul Qadir, the magician with ball

In 1982-83 Kim Hughes brought the Australians and they were thrashed 3-0 and then came India with Sunil Gavaskar as captain. It was Imran’s first real test and he came off with flying colours. Pakistan decimated India, winning the series three-nil. However, by now Imran was experiencing recurring pain in his left shin.

Cricket World Cup 1983

Three months after tour of India the x-rays revealed a huge crack on the shinbone of Imran. He needed a period of rest and recuperation. But selectors insisted on keeping him in the team and he was to play as batsman only in World Cup 1983.

The teams line up at Lord's before the 1983 World Cup (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

The teams line up at Lord’s before the 1983 World Cup (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

Pakistan stumbled through the qualifying round. Near the end of the group matches Pakistan needed to beat New Zealand with a good run rate in order to qualify for semi-final. A masterful century by Zaheer and Imran’s 79 not out brought Pakistan on 261. New Zealand gave a tough competition to Pakistan, With help of good deep fielding Pakistan defeated New Zealand by just 11 runs, edging it out on run rate by only 0.08 runs per over.

The victory took Pakistan to a semi-final against their regular nemesis, WI. Pakistan set a target of 185 only which WI strolled to for loss of just 2 wickets. Imran drew fierce criticism back in Pakistan, especially when India won the World Cup with just putting on 183 runs.

However, this world cup had a moment left till the end which would turn out to be one of the historic ones for Pakistan. It was lunch time the day after India’s victory at Lord’s in 1983 when the President of BCCI, NKP Salve was seething over the rejection of this request for four tickets for his party. Salve speculated what would have happened if the final had been held in India. Nur Khan, the counterpart of BCCP picked up the cue instantly: ‘Why can’t we play the next World Cup in our countries?’ The two men put tireless efforts later on to bring the World Cup to Indo-Pak sub-continent.

NKV Salve

NKV Salve

Air Chief Marshal Malik Noor Khan

Air Chief Marshal Malik Noor Khan

The darkest hour for Imran and emergence of Wasim Akram

Imran skipped Pakistan’s tour of India in 1983-84 and Zaheer captained the team and did well enough to draw all the tests. Imran was back to take Pakistan to Australia but did not play in the first three test matches, still nursing his stress-fractured shin but he played in the last two test matches as a batsman and came close to scoring a century at Melbourne. The captaincy alternated between Zaheer and Miandad.

Zaheer Abbas

Zaheer Abbas

Pakistan achieved its first ever series win against England when England toured Pakistan in 1983-84. India toured in October 1984 which proved to be dull series and was called off mid-way due to assassination of Indira Gandhi. New Zealand (NZ) team followed and Pakistan won the test series 2-0. The series was marred by controversies as NZ consistently complained about questionable decisions of Pakistani Umpires.

Ian Botham wonders how to put all his luggage into the car before departing on England's tour of Fiji, New Zealand and Pakistan, December 28, 1983

Ian Botham wonders how to put all his luggage into the car before departing on England’s tour of Fiji, New Zealand and Pakistan, December 28, 1983

Pakistan had a return trip to New Zealand only weeks later, Javed replaced Zaheer as captain and his first move was to insist inclusion of Wasim Akram in touring party, who was performing well in domestic circuit. The third test produced the first great performance by Wasim, only his 2nd match, taking 5 wickets in each innings. However, match ended in heartbreak for him. Pakistan was without Qadir in this match who had a row with Zaheer and was sent home. He muttered threats of retirement but some of his great days were still ahead.

Imran remained under treatment in England during this whole period. He feared his career was over as the proposed treatment was a new invention and very expensive.

 The return of Khan and the most famous shot in the history of the cricket

After expensive and lengthy treatment Imran returned to the national team in tournament to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cricket Association, where he partnered Wasim Akram for the first time. This began the second great blowing partnership of Imran’s career.

Wasim Akram, the greatest left arm bowler of all time

Wasim Akram, the greatest left arm bowler of all time

Meanwhile, one-day internationals had become a regular feature of cricket and when cricket came to the desert in Sharjah U. A. E., Pakistan and India met regularly before highly partisan expatriate crowds. Zaheer had retired. Imran Khan was the captain again.

It is said that the game of cricket is never over till the end and it truly has provided some great thrills but not more than Miandad’s last ball six against India that won Pakistan the match and drove the Pakistani fans into euphoria. It was the final of Austral-Asia Cup in 1986 at Sharjah. It is possibly the best remembered six in cricket history and the most rewarding one financially for Miandad.

The most important and exhilarating year of Pakistan’s cricket

Pakistan now faced what would become the most elated year in the nation’s cricket history. Imran was about to embark on a cricketing journey that would make or break his reputation as a player and as a captain.

Mighty WI toured Pakistan in 1986-87. The test series ended in 1-1 draw and Pakistan lost the ODI series 4-1. The stand out moment of this series was when very talented Salim Malik came out to bat with broken arm in 2nd innings of first test match at Faislabad. With plaster on his left arm, Malik batted only with right arm and hung on for a 32 run last wicket partnership with Wasim Akram who made an important half century and allowed Pakistan to win the match.

Cricket’s first decisive step towards putting an end to the age-old accusations that had marred home umpiring came on November 7, 1986, when Indian umpires VK Ramaswamy and Piloo Reporter stood in second Test against WI in Lahore. The move was plotted by Imran, who was sick of the criticism after every series in Pakistan. A few years later ICC realised that that’s the way forward when neutral umpires started officiating the matches.

India did not return the compliment of neutral umpires when Pakistan toured India in 1986-87, lasting 2 months in blistering hot weather. This was a difficult series because of the renewed border tensions between the two countries, leading to occasional crowd troubles, in which Pakistan boundary fielders were hit by stones and fruit. In the 4th test they took to wearing helmets in the deep to protect themselves.

Pakistan took the ODI series 5-1. India’s one win came fortuitously from Abdul Qadir, who ran himself out when the scores were level off the last ball. In the excitement, he had forgotten the rules. Pakistan would have won if he had kept his wicket intact.

The first four tests conformed to the recent pattern and were high scoring draws. The fifth and deciding test match at Bangalore, in which India chased 221 for a 4th innings victory, was one of the greatest in history. Worried by vanishing crowds, the authorities left the pitch underprepared to produce some kind of result. As a consequence, Pakistan’s selectors made a crucial last minute decision, with Iqbal Qasim coming in for Abdul Qadir. After many seesaw moments Pakistan eventually set a target of 221 runs to win for India on now a spiteful pitch. They almost got there as Gavaskar gave a masterclass in footwork and timing against the Pakistan spinners. He had reached 96 when Iqbal produced a ball which bounced violently and had him caught at slip. Withstanding a late desperate charge from Roger Binny, Pakistan won a gripping match by 16 runs. It was only Pakistan’s third overseas series win, and on return the team received extravagant public congratulations and welcome with crowd that stretched from airport to the heart of Lahore city.

Iqbal Qasim (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

Iqbal Qasim (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

The team then went to England and there was noticeable tension between the teams, and the English media were nastier than usual. Arriving at Heathrow the team was humiliatingly held up and made to stand aside, with other passengers looking on, while sniffer dogs went through their luggage. It was obvious that it was not going to be an easy tour.

Pakistan lost the ODI Texaco Trophy narrowly, by 2 matches to 1, inspite of a century and two fifties from Miandad.  The first two tests were drawn mainly because of rain but the sun was shining at Headingly and England won the toss and decided to bat on a wicket that had pace and bounce and a great deal of seam movement. Imran struck immediately and by lunch Pakistan had seized control of the match. It was a control they were not going to let go off. Pakistan bowled out England for 134 and at one stage for 31 for 5. The Pakistani fast bowlers, Imran, Wasim, and Mohsin Kamal were on a rampage, getting three wickets each. Pakistan went on to make 353 with help of Salim Mailik’s 99. It was a commanding lead and Imran was in his element as he ripped through England taking 7 wickets for 40. Pakistan won by an innings and 18 runs. England had been outplayed.

Wasim Akram bowls, England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day, June 6, 1987 (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

Wasim Akram bowls, England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day, June 6, 1987 (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

Pakistan manager Ahsan Haseeb talks to captain Imran Khan, August 5, 1987 (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

Pakistan manager Ahsan Haseeb talks to captain Imran Khan, August 5, 1987 (Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

In the final test at The Oval, Pakistan batted for two and a half days, making 708 with Miandad scoring 260 and Salim Malik 102, while Imran helped himself to a blistering 118. It was a mammoth total and England folded up, this time to spin and were bowled out for 240. Qadir, the leg spinner, the magician and the world’s best taking seven for 96. England followed on but helped by some dour batting and a few dropped catches were able to hold out for draw.

This was the first Pakistan team to overcome England in England. Imran was now at his Zenith, indisputably the world’s best all-rounder. Everyone expected him to lead the team to victory in the forthcoming World Cup – the first to be held on home soil.

Cricket World Cup 1987

Before a ball was bowled, the 1987 World Cup was a massive victory for Pakistan. In alliance with India they wrested the competition from English hands and shifted it to the Indian subcontinent. Both countries had to over-come deep seated prejudice about their ability to finance and organise a major international tournament. Nur Khan and Salve worked successfully on their respective governments to release foreign exchange for the World Cup project and invest in infrastructure. Reliance Industries of India put up Rs 70 million which enabled BCCP & BCCI to promise 50% more prize money that their English rivals. Another major objection by England of early twilight in Indian sub-continent was put to rest by reducing ODI to 50 overs a side than 60. The Indo-Pak bid won by 16 votes to 12. The fourth World Cup was more widely watched, more closely fought and more colourful than any of its three predecessors held in England. Significantly, it used neutral umpires.

In Pakistan expectations were immense. Led by Imran, they had their best-ever ODI side to-date. Pakistan played all their group matches at home, gaining five victories out of six. Amid overpowering national expectations, Pakistan took on Australia in the semi-final at Lahore. Australia batted solidly, until Imran’s second spell produced 3 for 17. Steve Waugh took 18 of the last over of the innings bowled by inexperienced left-arm seamer, Saleem Jaffer, which turned out to be difference in the end. Pakistan once again succumbed to the pressure of a semi-final. Chasing 267, Miandad and Imran resurrected the innings after an early collapse, but once the former was out it was a matter of time before the innings folded. Craig McDermott took the maiden 5-wicket haul of the tournament at Lahore to kill a nation’s dream and Pakistan lost the match by 18 runs. Public was utterly disappointed. Immediately after the tournament Sarfraz Nawaz, now a member of parliament, laid charges that match had been thrown to facilitate a betting coup. Players took him to court but action eventually died due to delay of judicial system. It set a pattern for the future, in which Pakistan defeats were assumed to be the result of match-fixing.

Australia, winners of world cup 1987

Australia, winners of world cup 1987

It was not perfect moment but Imran nevertheless chose to retire from cricket. The death of his mother Shaukat, from cancer in 1985, had had a profound effect on him and there already intimations that his life was to involve more than cricket. As was now customary, Miandad became captain.

The Shakoor Rana incident – the history repeats itself

The Pakistan-India cricket series are always fuelled with passion and drama, However, ironically there is another rivalry in cricket which has produced more drama and controversies both on and off the field i.e. Pakistan vs England. It all started from the abduction of umpire Idrees Baig in 1955-56 and during England’s tour of Pakistan in 1987-88, the history repeated itself.

England stayed behind to tour Pakistan, a tour whose memory will live in infamy. Even before it began, the tour looked like a mistake. It attracted little interest from Pakistani fans, coming so soon after the disappointment of the World Cup. Still smarting from the series lost in England, it was apparent that there was no love lost between the two teams.

Pakistan won the first test match at Lahore amidst mutterings from the English about poor umpiring. but it was during the second test match at Faisalabad that the tension boiled over. In what came to be known as the Shakoor Rana-Mike Gatting slanging match, there was a hot exchange and much finger-wagging between the umpire and the England captain. Play was suspended the next day because of prolonged parleys centred on the demand by umpire Rana for an unconditional apology from Gatting. The visiting media had a field day as they tried to dowse the fire with petrol! The apology was finally given and play was resumed and the tour continued.

http://tune.pk/video/3141413/cricket-fight-mike-gatting-vs-pakistan-umpire-shakoor-rana

England would not play another Test series against Pakistan for five years, and would not visit the country again for thirteen years. The morally troubled England team faced a dismal future in the wake of Shakoor Rana affair. Pakistan, on the other hand, were going from strength to strength, and greatness lay ahead.

Come back of Imran, whingeing Aussies and the tumultuous political arena

Pressure was mounting on Imran to comeback. BCCP formally asked him, he declined. A series was looming against the West Indies and General Zia uttered a personal plea. Eventually Imran was unable to resist. He realised that his campaign for a cancer hospital in Lahore would be better served if he continued in international cricket. Miandad resigned, once again showing extraordinary grace, self-knowledge and understanding.

The home record of WI in the 1980s was awe-inspiring. In 1987-88, Pakistan arrived to play a team that had not lost a series in 15 years, or a Test in ten. A whole generation had grown up not knowing what defeat meant. The Pakistanis were up against habit as much as anything else. Yet they were the most fancied to turn the tide. Imran’s return began dreadfully as the WI whitewashed Pakistan 5-0 in the ODI series.

Team’s morale was low before the first test in Georgetown but Imran produced outstanding spell of bowling of 7 for 80 resulting WI all out for 292. Pakistan were 57-2 when Miandad arrived and faced a barrage of bouncers and bad language, the stimulus he needed to raise his game. He made a gritting century and was supported by Salim Yousuf (62), Shoaib Muhammad (46) and then the record score of 71 extras. Pakistan got lead of 143. In the end Pakistan needed only 30 in second winnings and won the match by 9 wickets. It was the WI’s first home defeat for a decade. The three match series ended in 1-1 draw. Players who took part in that series still relish it memories and consider it one of the best played series.

Qadir was in the thick of the action, with ball, bat ... and fists © Getty Images

Qadir was in the thick of the action, with ball, bat … and fists © Getty Images

Perhaps the most ill-timed tour in Pakistan’s cricket history, by Australia in September and October 1988 was also one of the more unfortunate exercises in cricketing diplomacy. For the second consecutive series in Pakistan, the visiting team was virulent in its criticism of the pitch and the standard of the umpiring during the first Test match of a series. As they had against England the previous year, Pakistan won by an innings, with 17 Australian wickets falling to their spin bowlers. The remaining two Tests were then drawn and the series won 1-0.

However, there were other factors contributing to the tour’s failure to excite more than controversy. The death in a plane crash of General Zia ul-Haq, the President of Pakistan, in August had unsettled the country, with fears of rioting and civil war being expressed. Furthermore, the political parties were preparing for the general election in mid-November. Karachi and Hyderabad were in the grip of ethnic violence, which resulted in the cancellation of the two one-day internationals scheduled for those cities on October 14 and 15 respectively, while the first international of the intended three-match series, at Gujranwala on September 30, had to be called off because floods affected a vast area of the Punjab and Sindh. In their place, an ODI was played at Lahore after the Test match there.

15

Benazir Bhutto’s PPP won the largest no, of seats, 94, in the National Assembly elections in November and became first woman to rule Pakistan, or indeed any Muslim state. In the provincial elections, the Muslim League under Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, took power in Punjab. The inaugurated a long period of political fight between two parties for the next 10 years.

Benzair Bhutto taking oath as Prime Minister after elections of 1988

Benzair Bhutto taking oath as Prime Minister after elections of 1988

In 1990, Benazir’s political fortunes waned sharply. She clashed repeatedly with the conservative president Ishaq Khan, who eventually dismissed her and her government in favour of Nawaz Sharif’s Muslims League. Nawaz Sharif succeeded Benazir Bhutto as prime minister in November 1990.

Nawaz Sharif taking oath as Prime Minister after elections of 1990

Nawaz Sharif taking oath as Prime Minister after elections of 1990

Pakistan’s cricket administration was unaffected by these changes. In spite of Arif Abbasi’s successful commercial initiatives and the success of 1987 World Cup, Pakistan cricket was not a major source of income or patronage. Both Benazir and later Nazwaz Sharif left in place Zia’s nominee as chairman of the cricket board, General Zahid Ali Akbar Khan.

Another World Cup was knocking on the doors, this time to be held in Australia and New Zealand. However, Pakistan cricket team was in disarray going into the 1992 World Cup.

 

Wisden’s Player of Year during decade of 80s: Javed Miandad (1982), Imran Khan (1983), Salim Malik (1988)

Continued…

 

Next in ‘The Upredictables’ series: 1990s: Triumphs, Fight backs and Controversies 


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

 

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.

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.

6

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.

Coke Studio is back with a bang

Last season (season 6) of the Coke Studio was big disappointment. Rohail Hayat, ex-producer, had set a very high standard of the music through season 1 to 3 but it declined with every passing season subsequently. Last season ended abruptly under controversial circumstances.


 

Read: Coke Studio: My favourite five songs!


 

This year Coke Studio has been produced by The Strings. First episode is available on the website and I must say its absolutely brilliant. The show is back with a bang.

‘Lai Beqadraan Naal Yaari’ by Tufail Niazi was the first song which was aired on Pakistan Television (PTV) when it was launched. It was sung by Niazi brother in this first episode of season 7 and is absolutely brilliant. My favourite song of this episode.

Here are all the tracks of first episode of season 7:

LAI BEQADRAAN NAAL YAARI

 

SUB AAKHO ALI ALI

 

TUM NARAZ HO

 

MEIN SUFI HOON

 

 

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.