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Wanted: World-class all-rounders

Cricket is fast developing into a game in which specialists will have to give way ...

Wanted: World-class all-rounders

Cricket is fast developing into a game in which specialists will have to give way to all-rounders, cricketers that are specialists but in different categories of the game.

In Test cricket, specialists will remain untouched because of their ability to last more than 50 overs but in other formats, particularly T20, their inability to score quick runs or take wickets at regular intervals might be a problem. That is where we will need doubly-talented players like Anwar Ali, Bilal Asif, Aamer Yamin, Bilawal Bhatti who despite being dually talented are not wearing their national colours. What should they do to make a comeback in the national side? They must try to emulate the best, what else! Let’s go down the memory lane and bring back memories of ‘Men with the golden arm and hand!’

MUSHTAQ MOHAMMAD (1959-1979)

Type: Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman, Leg Break Googly Bowler, Brilliant Captain

Before there was Imran Khan, there was Mushtaq Mohammad who could bat better than many, bowl better than many and was a reliable fielder with unbelievable reflexes. He never got his due as a batsman because of his more successful elder brother Hanif Mohammad and as a bowler since Intikhab Alam loved to bowl from one end even when not taking wickets. As a captain, however, Mushtaq was a revelation. He was the first person to show Pakistan that winning a Test is much easier than playing for a draw. Be it against the great Indian spin quartet or the mighty Australians, Mushtaq had wins against all of them. He was the first Pakistani to score a double century and take five wickets in an innings in the same Test — against New Zealand at Dunedin in 1973; he followed it with a century and 5-for against the West Indies at Port of Spain four years later.

IMRAN KHAN
(1971-1992)

Type: Right Arm Fast Bowler, Right-Handed Batsman, Excellent Captain

Imran Khan is considered one of the most influential cricketers Pakistan has ever produced. He was the one who led the team to victory in India (Bangalore, 1986), won the first Trophy for Pakistan (Austral-Asia Cup, 1986), led Pakistan to a tournament win in India (Nehru Cup, 1989) and finally the World Cup in 1992. It was under his astute leadership that the team won Test matches in the West Indies, Test series in England and reached the semi-final stage of two World Cups. He was a fast bowler of repute who improved his batting so much that at 40 years he batted at number 3 in the final of the World Cup and was the only player to hit a six in Melbourne Cricket Ground. He remains one of the three players in cricket history to have scored a century and taken 10 wickets in the same match (Ian Botham of England and Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh being the other two).

MUDASSAR NAZAR (1976-1989)

Type: Opening and Middle Order Batsman, Right Arm Medium Fast Bowler

Mudassar Nazar started his career in 1976 as an opening batsman and was constantly juggled in the batting order as per the team’s requirements. He emerged as a fine bowler who could swing the ball and deliver unplayable deliveries if the conditions suited him. It was one such bowling spell against England at Lord’s in 1982 that saw him earn the title of The Man With The Golden Arm. Besides this, he holds the batting record of slowest Test century ever as well as carrying the bat in an innings, a feat also achieved by his father Nazar Mohammad.

WASIM AKRAM
(1984-2003)

Type: Left Arm Fast Bowler, Left-Handed Batsman, Shrewd Captain

He came, he bowled and he became a sensation — that was Wasim Akram when he made his debut in 1984-85. Be it his performance with the bat and the ball in the final of the World Cup in 1992 or his match-winning fifties in ODIs, Wasim is a true great to play the game. He is also the only Pakistani all-rounder who managed to play 100 Tests; he scored a century and took 5 wickets against Australia in Adelaide in 1990, where he was dubbed as the next big thing. Six years later, he scored 257 not out in the first Test against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura and followed it with a 10-wicket haul in the next match at Faisalabad. He holds the record for most sixes in Test innings (as a batsman) and has as many as four hat-tricks in international cricket, two each in Tests and ODIs.

AZHAR MAHMOOD (1996-2007)

Type: Right Arm Medium Fast Bowler, Right-Handed Batsman

In the mid-90s, Pakistan was as much in need of all-rounders as it is today and Azhar Mahmood solved that problem by showing that he could score quickly and take wickets with his deceptive bowling. He is one of the few all-rounders who have scored a century on their Test debut (against South Africa in 1997) and also taken 4 wickets or more in an ODI on 5 occasions, with 6/18 being his best against the West Indies. He scored back-to-back centuries against South Africa on his first tour of the country and his ton at Durban helped Pakistan win the Test, their first against the Proteas on their ground.

SHAHID AFRIDI
(1996-2016)

Type: Right-Handed Batsman, Leg Break Googly Bowler

Shahid Afridi is considered the savior of Pakistan cricket at the turn of the millennium when senior cricketers were quitting right, left and centre. He took over the role of a senior cricketer and held Pakistan cricket together until Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq attained iconic status. He started his career as a leg break and googly bowler but on his first chance to bat (in his second ODI match) he blasted the fastest century off just 37 balls. In 1998, on his Test debut, he took 5 wickets against Australia, and scored a century against India in 1999; he has the highest number of Man of the Match awards in Pakistan and holds many other records, including most sixes in career (ODI)

ABDUL RAZZAQ
(1996-2013)

Type: Right Arm Medium Fast Bowler, Right-Handed Batsman

He could open the bowling and take wickets; open the batting and build the innings and come down the order to hit the fastest men in the game out of the park. That was Abdul Razzaq. Who can forget his unbeaten 109 off 72 balls where he hit 10 towering sixes and 7 fours to steer Pakistan home by 1 wicket. He is also one of the few players from Pakistan to have scored multiple Test centuries and completed 100 Test wickets that included a hat-trick.

 

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Omair Alavi

omair alavi
The author is a freelance journalist. He may be contacted at [email protected]

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