The quickening

Published Mar 01, 2013 06:00am

Was there ever a time when the Pakistan cricket side was actually able to successfully negotiate quality quick bowlers on a fast track?

Yes, there was. Read on.

The Eternal Debacle

Recently, the Pakistan Test side faced a humiliating 3-0 series defeat against South Africa in South Africa.

A defeat was always on the cards but not a debacle, considering how well the Pakistanis had done against England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq.

However, the three series that Pakistan won were all played on flat tracks in the UAE and Bangladesh that also begun to take turn in the latter half of the Tests.

But the tracks in South Africa were almost the complete opposite of what the Pakistan side had relished in the UAE.

They were hard and fast and some even had enough grass on them to help the quick bowlers get prodigious seam movement. With the ball coming in at rapid speeds at their chests and faces and also moving, the Pakistani batsmen seemed all at sea. It’s amazing how even after decades of failing on fast tracks; all Asian teams continue to struggle on such strips.

But the good news (for Asian sides) is that today,  South Africa seems to be the only country where almost all Test centres have wickets that overwhelmingly favour fast bowling.

Otherwise, apart from the wicket at Perth’s WACA Stadium in Australia, and the one in Headingley, Leeds in England that is notorious for aiding swing and seam bowling, wickets across the cricket-playing world these days are mostly flat, slow and low, or at best, turners.

That’s why wickets in South Africa remain to be refreshing exceptions.

Sitting ducks: Pakistani batsmen completely failed to cope with quick bowling on fast South African wickets in the recently concluded series. They were bounced out 3-0 in the rubber.
Sitting ducks: Pakistani batsmen completely failed to cope with quick bowling on fast South African wickets in the recently concluded series. They were bounced out 3-0 in the rubber.

But this was not always the case.

In the 1970s and a good part of the 1980s, though wickets in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka were somewhat exactly the way they are now, almost all grounds in the West Indies and Australia offered hard, fast and bouncy tracks.

In England the ball used to move more (off the wicket) than it does today, mainly due to the fact that even until 1978, wickets were largely left uncovered and most of them would turn into slippery monsters after receiving rain.

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Two Tribes

Someone (on TV) recently asked, “Was there ever a time when the Pakistan cricket side was actually able to successfully negotiate quality quick bowlers on a fast track?”

Well, yes, there actually was a time. Two series come to mind in this respect: Pakistan’s tour of Australia and West Indies (under Mushtaq Mohammad) in 1976-77, and Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies (under Imran Khan) in 1987-88.

When Khan’s team squared the series in West Indies in 1988 (1-1), the Windies had already peaked (in the mid-1980s), even though they still boasted of quality fast bowlers and the wickets in the West Indies were still relatively quick.

Nevertheless, the West Indies side would gradually begin to decline after this and the wickets in the Caribbean would get slower and lower by the year.

That’s why the 1976-77 series against Australia and West Indies remains to be one of the best examples of a time when a Pakistani side played some of its finest cricket on fast wickets.

But this is not the only thing that made this series iconic. Imran Khan (in both of his books, 1984’s ‘Imran’ and 1992’s, ‘An All Round View’), considered the Pakistan squad of the 1970s to be the most talented he has played in.

He wrote that though this was a highly talented side, it had been underachieving until the 1976-77 series against Australia and West Indies.

It was only after these series that Pakistan cricket finally managed to be taken a lot more seriously and the international worth of a number of their cricketers grew two-fold.

Secondly, Australia and the West Indies were the top two Test sides in the world. And most of the grounds in Australia and the Caribbean islands had some of the quickest wickets – quicker even than the ones found today in South Africa.

Both the sides also had the fastest bowlers of the period: Dennis Lillie, Jeff Thomson and Gary Gilmour (Australia); Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft (West Indies).

Jeff Thomson (centre) and Dennis Lillie (right) formed one of the deadliest fast bowling partnerships in the mid and late 1970s. Both were propelled into prominence by the aggressive on-filed tactics of Australian captain, Ian Chappell (left). After sending a number of English batsmen to the hospital during the 1975 Ashes series in Australia, Thomson told reporters: ‘I like to see blood on the pitch.’
Jeff Thomson (centre) and Dennis Lillee (right) formed one of the deadliest fast bowling partnerships in the mid and late 1970s. Both were propelled into prominence by the aggressive on-field tactics of Australian captain Ian Chappell (left). After sending a number of English batsmen to the hospital during the 1975 Ashes series in Australia, Thomson told reporters: ‘I like to see blood on the pitch.’

These quicks had devastated an assortment of Test sides and sent numerous players to the hospital when the Pakistan team arrived to face them.

Also remember, helmets and other protective gear like the arm and chest pads were not yet invented.

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Ready and Willing

Mushtaq Muhammad (left) with Zaheer Abbas, 1974.
Mushtaq Mohammad (left) with Zaheer Abbas, 1974.

Pakistani all-rounder, Mushtaq Muhammad, was made the captain in 1976 at the age of 33.

He replaced leg-spinner, Intikhab Alam, as skipper who had led Pakistan between 1971 and 1975 during which Pakistan could only win one Test!

Mushtaq was a regular member in the side and highly valued as a solid middle-order batsman, a wily leg spinner and an excellent slip fielder.

The decision to make him the captain was taken by the Pakistan cricket board when it decided to bring in a more aggressive captain to replace the defensive Intikhab.

But, in spite of the fact that the board was looking for a more pro-active and creative captain to turn the Pakistan team into a winning unit, it got more than that because Mushtaq was as head-strong as the board’s chairman, A H. Kardar – a former Pakistan cricket captain (1951-58) and a close aide of the then Prime Minster of Pakistan, Z A. Bhutto.

On the very first day of the first Test of his captaincy, Mushtaq resigned! This was during the 1976 New Zealand team’s 3-Test series against Pakistan in Pakistan.

At lunch on the first day of the first Test in Lahore, Mushtaq handed over his resignation to the board because the team for the match was selected without fully consulting him.

Kardar asked Mushtaq’s elder brother, Hanif Mohammad – a former Pakistan captain and legendary opening batsmen – to ‘talk some sense into Mushtaq.’

Mushtaq reluctantly agreed to take back the resignation and Pakistan went on to win the Test – it’s first in three years!

This was the same Test in which an 18-year-old Javed Miandad made his debut and cracked a quick-fire century along with the veteran Asif Iqbal.

A young Javed Miandad on his way to notch his first Test century. He made 163 against the visiting New Zealand side in Lahore (Oct. 1976). Pakistan won the match.
A young Javed Miandad on his way to notch his first Test century. He made 163 against the visiting New Zealand side in Lahore (Oct. 1976). Pakistan won the match.

Even though Mushtaq had led Pakistan to its first Test victory after almost three years, he saw himself on the wrong side of Karadar once again when he asked the board to raise the playing fee of the cricketers.

Kardar refused and threatened to sack him. But when the team’s senior players exhibited their support for Mushtaq, Kardar backed down and the team went on to win the second Test of the series as well (in Hyderabad).

The third Test (in Karachi) was drawn but Pakistan won the series 2-0.

Next up was a gruelingly long tour of two of the top Test playing countries at the time: Australia and the West Indies.

Pakistan’s 2-0 win against New Zealand at home meant nothing to the Australian and the Carrabin press. It dismissed the Pakistani side as a bunch of bunnies that would be swallowed whole by the Australian and West Indian sides packed with fearsome quick bowlers and classy batsmen.

A 24-year-old Imran Khan uproots the stumps of a New Zealand batsman during the third Test in Karachi, 1976. Also seen in the picture is wicketkeeper, Wasim Bari.
A 24-year-old Imran Khan uproots the stumps of a New Zealand batsman during the third Test in Karachi, 1976. Also seen in the picture is wicketkeeper, Wasim Bari.

The wickets would be fast and the crowds hostile.

Before the team was announced for the tour, Mushtaq once again demanded that the players’ fee be raised.

Kardar again refused and in fact, sacked Mushtaq and some other senior members of the squad. He then decided to reinstate Intikhab as skipper.

The Pakistani press supported Mushtaq and the players, leaving Prime Minister Bhutto to send one of his leading ministers, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, to sort out the issue.

Pirzada accepted the players’ demands and Mushtaq and his Vice Captain, Asif Iqbal, finally agreed to sit with the selectors to pick the squad for the long tour.

Between November 1976 and April 1977, Pakistan was to play 8 Tests – 3 against Australia and 5 against the West Indies – besides some ODIs and a number of side games.

A 17-member squad was selected:

•    Mushtaq Mohammad | (Captain) | Age: 33 | From: Karachi | Right-handed batsman and right-arm leg-break •    Asif Iqbal | (Vice Captain) | Age: 33 | From: Karachi | Right-handed batsman •    Majid Khan | Age: 30 | From: Lahore | Right-Handed opening batsman and occasional off-spin. •    Sadiq Muhammad | Age: 31 | From: Karachi | Left-handed opening batsman •    Zaheer Abbas | Age: 29 | From: Karachi | Right-handed batsman •    Javed Miandad | Age: 19 | From: Karachi | Right-handed batsman and occasional leg-break •    Haroon Rashid | Age: 23 | From: Karachi | Right-handed batsman •    Mudassar Nazar | Age: 20 | From: Lahore | Right-handed opening batsman •    Wasim Raja | Age: 24 | From: Multan | Left-handed batsman and right-arm leg-spin •    Wasim Bari | Age: 27 | From: Karachi | Wicketkeeper and right-handed batsman •    Taslim Arif | Age: 22 | From: Karachi | Wicketkeeper and right-handed batsman •    Imran Khan | Age: 24 | From: Lahore | Right-handed batsman and right-arm fast •    Sarfraz Nawaz | Age: 28 | From: Lahore | Right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium •    Saleem Altaf | Age: 32 | From: Lahore | Right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium •    Sikander Bakht | Age: 19 | From: Karachi | Right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium •    Asif Masood | Age: 30 | From: Lahore | Right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium •    Intikhab Alam | Age: 35 | From: Lahore | Right-handed batsman and right-arm leg-break •    Iqbal Qasim | Age: 23 | From: Karachi | Left-handed batsman and Left-arm leg-spin. •    Mohsin Khan | Age: 21 | From: Karachi | Right-handed batsman.*

*(Mohsin Khan joined the squad on the West Indian leg of the tour).

Former Pakistan cricketer Sujauddin was the manager.

The squad just before boarding the plane for the long tour (from left): Zaheer Abbas, Asif Masood, Intikhab Alam, Saleem Altaf, Mudassar Nazar, Wasim Raja, Imran Khan, Sujauddin (Manager), Imtiaz Khan (Assitant Manager), Majid Khan, Asif Iqbal, Mushtaq Muhanmmad; (sitting from left): Sarfraz Nawaz, Wasim Bari, Iqbal Qasim, Taslim Arif, Sadiq Muhammad, Javed Miandad, Sikander Bakht and (not seen in the picture), Haroon Rashid.
The squad just before boarding the plane for the long tour (from left): Zaheer Abbas, Asif Masood, Intikhab Alam, Saleem Altaf, Mudassar Nazar, Wasim Raja, Imran Khan, Sujauddin (Manager), Imtiaz Khan (Assitant Manager), Majid Khan, Asif Iqbal, Mushtaq Mohanmmad; (sitting from left): Sarfraz Nawaz, Wasim Bari, Iqbal Qasim, Taslim Arif, Sadiq Mohammad, Javed Miandad, Sikander Bakht and (not seen in the picture), Haroon Rashid.

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Bounced, Sledged and Back

The Pakistan team arrived in Australia to a hostile reception. The Australian press had dismissed them as bunnies (must this be repeated?) and they were up against an Australian side that had whipped England 4-1 and the West Indies 5-1.

9 slips for Lillee! Australia vs. New Zealand, 1977.
9 slips for Lillee! Australia vs New Zealand, 1977.

The Pakistanis also came across something that the Australians had begun to develop under Ian Chappell’s captaincy: Sledging.

Though Chappell retired in 1975, he was replaced by his brother Greg Chappell who even furthered the sledging bit.

Sledging meant bowlers and close-in fielders abusing the batsman or cracking ‘personal jokes’ about him to infuriate him, making him lose his concentration.

The Pakistanis got a bagful of this during the first Test in Adelaide on a quick-ish pitch.

They were up against Thomson, Lillee and Gilmour, all of whom threatened to reduce the Pakistan under the score of 200 had it not been for a gutsy 85 by Zaheer and 48 by Imran.

Pakistan finally managed to notch 272, but it could have been far worse.

Thomson, who was consistently bowling over 90 mph, and had swallowed two Pakistani wickets, tried to bounce out Zaheer.

The ball rose viciously and Zaheer was late on the hook shot. The rising ball hit the edge of his bat and ballooned in the air.

Thomson ran for the catch not knowing that Allan Turner was also coming in for it.

Both the players collided. Thomson dislocated his shoulder and had to be carried away from the field.

Thomson (left) and Turner collide.
Thomson (left) and Turner collide.

When the Australians came in to bat, they smashed the Pakistani bowlers all over the park and gained a lead of over 150.

With two and a half days remaining, Pakistan had to bat for a long time to save the game.

Zaheer, Mushtaq and Javed took the score to 236-4. Zaheer also raised a stylish century, only to get out at 101, hooking Lillee.

Imran, Saleem Altaf, Sarfraz and Bari went quickly, leaving Pakistan reeling at 379-9 – just 217 ahead and more than a day and a half remaining in the Test.

Asif Iqbal was still there with the number 11, Iqbal Qasim.

At tea, Mushtaq admonished Zaheer in the dressing room for playing recklessly after completing his century.

But what happened next took the Australians by surprise.

Asif Iqbal added 87 precious runs with Qasim who faced 96 deliveries but scored just 4!

He gave vital support to Asif who went on to score a fighting 152.

The partnership was finally broken in the first session of the fifth day when Qasim was run out.

Iqbal Qasim run-out after adding 87 with Asif Iqbal.
Iqbal Qasim run-out after adding 87 with Asif Iqbal.

Australians were left with a gettable 284 to win in two sessions. But Pakistan made sure that didn’t happen, especially due to some tight bowling by Iqbal Qasim who took 4 wickets.

The Australians aborted the chase after the fall of their sixth wicket and needed just 23 to win when the game ended in a tense draw.

The crowd booed the Australians for abandoning the chase.

After the day’s play, Lillee went into the Pakistan dressing room with a bucket of Australian beer. He walked towards Mushtaq: ‘Come on, Mushy, let’s you and I have some beers.’

Mushtaq was furious: ‘I don’t understand you guys. Out there you insult and abuse us, and now you want to have a beer with my team?’

Lillee laughed: ‘What takes place on the field stays on the field. Off it, we’re buddies.’

Earning a fighting draw almost felt like a win for the Pakistanis and they went brimming with confidence to Melbourne for the second Test.

The wicket at the Melbourne Cricket Stadium used to be one of the fastest in the world until 1975. But when the Pakistanis arrived here they were pleased to notice a dry, brown and flat track.

Sarfraz had gotten himself injured in the nets and was replaced by Asif Masood.

Pakistan fast bowler, Asif Masood at the Melbourne Cricket Stadium.
Pakistan fast bowler, Asif Masood at the Melbourne Cricket Stadium.

On the way to the toss, Australian skipper, Greg Chappell, pulled  out a tossing coin that had a woman’s breast on one side and a woman’s backside on the other.

‘Mushy,’ he said, smiling, ‘instead of saying heads or tails, you’ll have to call boobs or butts, okay?’

Mushy called boobs and lost the toss. Soon, the Pakistani bowling attack was being taken to the cleaners.

Australia posted a mammoth 514. Pakistan responded in kind. Or sort of. Pakistan’s celebrated opening pair of Majid Khan and Sadiq Muhammad quickly posted an opening stand of 113 before Majid fell.

No problem. Zaheer continued with his good form and pushed the score to 241 with Sadiq who made a fluent 105.

But then, as if out of nowhere, Lillee produced two stunning spells of fast bowling leaving Pakistan collapsing from 241-2 to 333 all out.

The Australians scored 315-8 before declaring, leaving Pakistan an impossible 499 runs to get. The only highlight of Pakistan’s bowling was Imran’s 5 wickets but which he got at the expense of 122 runs.

Playing for a draw, Pakistan collapsed, scoring just 151, devastated again by Lillee (4 wickets), and leg-break bowler, Kerry O’Keef. Pakistan lost the game by a whopping 348 runs!

Mushy should’ve called ‘butts.’

Sadiq Muhammad poses with the bat he scored 105 with at Melbourne.
Sadiq Mohammad poses with the bat he scored 105 with at Melbourne.

Another one bites the dust: Javed Miandad goes for 10 watched by skipper Mushtaq as Pakistan collapse in the second Test.
Another one bites the dust: Javed Miandad goes for 10 watched by skipper Mushtaq as Pakistan collapse in the second Test.

A day before the third Test in Sydney, Mushtaq and vice captain, Asif Iqbal, couldn’t make out the nature of the wicket at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It wasn’t exactly a green-top but nor was it like the one in Melbourne.

In the 3-day side game against Queensland, the flamboyant Wasim Raja had cracked a hard-hitting century and was expecting to be selected in Sydney.

At night, Mushtaq and Asif Iqbal sat together in Mushtaq’s hotel room to decide the final XI for the third Test. They believed the Sydney track would help the batsmen and decided to strengthen the batting line-up. They dropped fast bowler Salim Altaf and replaced him with the debutant middle-order batsman, Haroon Rashid. Asif Masood made way for the returning Sarfraz.

Mushtaq gave the names of the selected team to Manager Sujahuddin who informed Raja that he wasn’t in the side.

A loner, eccentric and a binge drinker, Raja went on a rampage. After getting drunk, he smashed a mirror in his hotel room with a whiskey bottle and then stumbled into the hotel lobby, cursing Sujahuddin.

Wasim Raja (1977).
Wasim Raja (1977).

Mudassar, Asif Masood, Sadiq, Sarfraz and Salmim Altaf were at the hotel bar having a drink when they saw Raja stumbling and cursing his way across the lobby. They at once alerted Mushtaq.

Raja accused Sujahuddin for keeping him out of the side until Mushtaq arrived and calmed Raja down. Some members of the management wanted Raja to be sent back home, but Mushtaq vetoed the idea.

The next day the third and final Test of the tour began, with Pakistan one down in the series.

Chappell won the toss and elected to bat. He also thought it would be a flat track. But it turned out to be quite the opposite.

The grass on it somehow remained fresh throughout the game giving assistantce to the quick bowlers. But Pakistan had gone into the game with only two quicks: Imran and Sarfraz.

Both shared 42 overs between them and cleaned up the Australians for just 211. Imran picked up 6 wickets and Sarfraz 3.

Sarfraz gets rid of Gary Coziar. (From Left): Sadiq, Mushtaq, Sarfraz, Imran, Javed and Cozier.
Sarfraz gets rid of Gary Cosier. (From Left): Sadiq, Mushtaq, Sarfraz, Imran, Javed and Cosier.

But now, the question was how the Pakistani batsmen would face up to the likes of Lillee, Gilmour and the awkward Max Walker on this wicket.

The three tested the Pakistanis with a series of bouncers and lots of sledging and reduced them to 111-4.

Pakistan regrouped when young guns Javed Miandad and Haroon Rashid bravely played around the veteran Asif Iqbal and pushed the Pakistan score to over 300. Asif notched a valiant 120, hooking, pulling and driving the Australian quicks at will.

Asif Iqbal.
Asif Iqbal.

The Pakistan dressing room erupts with applause as Asif Iqbal reaches his century in Sydney. (From left [sitting]): Haroon Rashid, Majid Khan, Sadiq Muhammad, Taslim Arif and Imran Khan. (Standing from left): Saleem Altaf, Wasim Bari and Sarfraz Nawaz.
The Pakistan dressing room erupts with applause as Asif Iqbal reaches his century in Sydney. (From left [sitting]): Haroon Rashid, Majid Khan, Sadiq Muhammad, Taslim Arif and Imran Khan. (Standing from left): Saleem Altaf, Wasim Bari and Sarfraz Nawaz.Pakistan reached 360 and gained a vital 149 runs lead.

The wicket remained fresh and bouncy.

Frustrated by the doggedness of Pakistan’s middle and lower order batsmen, Lillee and Gilmour had bowled numerous bouncers and hurled all sorts of abuses at them.

One Lillee delivery struck Sarfraz hard in the ribcage. Sarfraz threw away his bat, walked up to the leg-umpire and shouted: ‘Are you f**king blind! Can’t you see?’

The umpire told him to continue batting. Lillee bowled another vicious bouncer that whizzed past Sarfraz’s face. ‘Eat this, bunny!’ Lillee snarled.

The Australians began their second innings 149 runs behind Pakistan’s score.

But once again they struggled against the pace of Imran and the swing of Sarfraz.

After both the pace-men had reduced Australia to 115-8, a gritty partnership began to develop between Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee.

Taking a leaf out of the Australians’ sledging technique, Mushtaq placed the 19-year-old and very vocal Javed Miandad at silly point.

Miandad would sing songs from Urdu films to irritate Marsh and Lillee and kept saying, ‘now he will kill you,’ whenever Imran or Sarfraz would send down a bouncer.

Imran Khan eyes and gives a mouthful to Australia’s Rod Marsh at Sydney.
Imran Khan eyes and gives a mouthful to Australia’s Rod Marsh at Sydney.

Lillee complained to the umpire and the umpire told Mushtaq that he would take Imran off if he persisted on bowling bouncers.

Mushtaq was furious: ‘How come you didn’t admonish the Australian bowlers when they were bouncing our tail-enders?’

But the umpire kept saying he would take Imran off.

Mushtaq asked Imran to stop (in front of the umpire), but as Khan walked back to his bowling mark, Mushtaq told him to ‘aim between the bastard’s eyes!’

Mushtaq arguing with the umpire. Also seen is substitute fielder, Wasim Raja, and a furious Imran Khan (behind the umpire).
Mushtaq arguing with the umpire. Also seen is substitute fielder, Wasim Raja, and a furious Imran Khan (behind the umpire).

Pakistan finally bag Rod Marsh. (From left): Sadiq, Bari, Mushtaq, Imran and Marsh.
Pakistan finally bag Rod Marsh. (From left): Sadiq, Bari, Mushtaq, Imran and Marsh.

Khan bowled at ferocious speeds, capturing another 6 wickets with Sarfraz pitching in with another 3. Both skidded Australia out for just 180, leaving Pakistan just 32 to get.

This portion of the match was telecasted live by PTV – a rarity in those days.

Pakistan reached the target with the loss of 2 wickets. Majid Khan finally wrapped up the game by smashing 3 fours and then hooking Lillee for a six. Not only did Pakistan square the series 1-1, it won its first ever Test on Australian soil. The Australian press was left speechless.

Mushtaq and Imran celebrate Pakistan’s victory.
Mushtaq and Imran celebrate Pakistan’s victory.

Sadiq and Mushtaq share a beer in the dressing room after the win. Seen in the background is Imran who took 12 wickets in the match.
Sadiq and Mushtaq share a beer in the dressing room after the win. Seen in the background is Imran who took 12 wickets in the match.

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Frolicking Good and Then Some

Pakistan flew to the West Indies from Australia via the Fiji Islands and reached the Caribbean in February 1977.

The West Indian team, fans and press were now more than just curious to see a side that had squared a series against the number one team in the world.

The West Indies were considered to be the number two team at the time after having been crushed by Australia 5-1 in 1975.

But West Indies had a longer line of fast men: Michael Holding, Vanburn Holder, Bernard Julien and the very slippery, Andy Roberts.

When Holding pulled out of the series due to injury, he was replaced by two more quicks: The very fast and very unconventional, Colin Croft, and the 6ft-8inch giant, Joel Garner.

Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner.
Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner.

Legendary West Indies all-rounder and former captain, Garry Sobers, was not impressed by what Pakistan had achieved in Australia.

He predicted that the West Indies, led by Clive Lloyd would be able to brush aside the Pakistanis.

Even before the first Test, Pakistan lost the in-form Zaheer who broke his toe while playing football at the hotel beach.

The 21-year-old Mohsin Khan was flown in from Pakistan as a replacement, but Zaheer was kept in the touring squad in case he recovered during the 5-Test series.

Then young Miandad fell into depression when news arrived that his father had died.

He was preparing to fly back home when he was stopped by his mother (on the phone) who insisted that his father would have wanted him to stay with the team.

But the problems didn’t end there. Pakistan almost lost its main wicketkeeper as well – quite literally.

Wasim Bari was taking a swim at a beach when a strong tide carried him deeper into the sea. He yelled for help and almost drowned but was thankfully saved by a lifeguard.

After a few side games, the Pakistanis flew out to Barbados for the first Test. The wicket at the Kingston Oval was reddish in colour and looked like it would help the fast men.

Mushtaq and Asif decided to beef up the batting. Haroon was played at the injured Zaheer’s position and Wasim Raja was brought in at number 7. Imran, Salim Altaf and Sarfraz were to lead the pace attack.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat because Mushtaq thought the wicket would crumble in the fourth innings.

Croft and Garner reduced Pakistan to 271-7 in spite of a quick-fire 88 by Majid.

Then Raja came into his element and played well with the tail to push the score up to 435. Smashing 12 fours and a six, Raja reached his century and remained not out at 117.

The West Indians responded in kind, posting 421, just 14 runs behind Pakistan’s score.

By the time Pakistan began its second innings, the reddish strip seemed to have quickened up a bit more and the cracks on it had begun to open.

Croft, Garner and Roberts reduced Pakistan to 158-9, or just 172 runs ahead with almost two days remaining. The West Indians were on their way.

Javed Miandad swings but misses a delivery from Joel Garner, is hit on the pads and given out LBW. Asif Iqbal watches from the non-strikers end.
Javed Miandad swings but misses a delivery from Joel Garner, is hit on the pads and given out LBW. Asif Iqbal watches from the non-strikers end.

Not quite. Raja and the number 11, Bari, added a blistering 122 runs for the last wicket partnership!

Raja cracked a flamboyant 71 and Bari a streaky but vital 60 as Pakistan was able to post a respectable 291, leaving the West Indies to get 305 in a day and a half.

Wasim Bari attempts to run Vivian Richards out at Barbados.
Wasim Bari attempts to run Vivian Richards out at Barbados.

At 142-2 it seemed the Windies would be able to reach the target. But Sarfraz, Imran and Salim Altaf had other ideas. All three then rapidly began to run through the West Indian side with an impressive exhibition of seam bowling.

Pakistan had turned the tables and was now heading for a possible victory when the ninth West Indies wicket fell at 237. But dogged resistance from the last wicket pair of Deryck Murray and Croft saved the day for the hosts. The game ended in a tense draw.

The great Gary Sobers was made to eat his words. Almost.

The squad travelled to the Port of Spain for the second Test. Here the wicket was harder than the one in Barbados.

Sarfraz got injured and was replaced by Intikhab Alam, the veteran leg-spinner. An out-of-form and depressed Miandad was dropped and the left-arm leggie Iqbal Qasim was brought in.

Mushtaq believed the wicket would eventually slow down and begin to take spin. He won the toss and chose to bat first. Wrong decision.

Right from the word go the West Indian fast men were all over the Pakistanis. Especially Colin Croft who destroyed the Pakistan line-up by bagging 8 wickets.

Only Wasim Raja stood tall, smashing a rapid 65 with 7 fours and 2 towering sixes of Garner and Croft.

Six and out! Raja lofts Croft over long-off for six (left). Gets bowled by the very next delivery (right).
Six and out! Raja lofts Croft over long-off for six (left). Gets bowled by the very next delivery (right).

The West Indians responded with a telling total of 316, gaining a big lead of 236.

Pakistanis tried to regroup and fight back. Sadiq and Majid posted an opening stand of 123. But from 123-0, Pakistan crumbled to 181-4.

However, as Roberts and Garner seemed to be running through the Pakistan batting, they once again found Raja in the way.

He manoeuvred some vital partnerships with the lower order (especially with Imran), and smashed 85, again with 7 fours and 2 sixes.

Pakistan left the Windies a target of 206 to make in a day and a half. They achieved it rather easily on the fifth day of the Test for the loss of four wickets.

Pakistan was now one down in the series.

As the Pakistanis reached Georgetown for the third Test, Mushtaq contemplated dropping himself from the side. His batting formed had dipped and the defeat in the second Test seemed to have hit him hard.

He discussed the matter with his Vice Captain, Asif Iqbal and Majid Khan. But both of them advised him to stay put.

Another quick strip awaited the Pakistanis in Georgetown. Zaheer had recovered from his injury and was immediately selected in the playing XI.

West Indies won the toss and without any hesitation, Lloyd invited the Pakistanis to bat first.

Roberts, Garner and Croft quickly sent the Pakistanis packing for just 194.

Imran was the highest scorer, striking a defiant 47. But he almost lost his head doing this when a fierce bouncer from Roberts whizzed past his face.

‘The ball passed me even before I could react. It was the fastest delivery I have ever faced,’ he wrote later in a book.

Andy Roberts.
Andy Roberts.

But the wicked slowed down by the time the Windies began their innings. And it showed.

They collected 448 runs and a huge lead of 244. With more than two days remaining in the game and the wicket expected to break, Pakistan were facing another defeat.

Pakistan started their second innings well. Sadiq and Majid cruised to take Pakistan to 60 for no loss when a vicious bouncer from Roberts smashed into the right cheekbone of the left-handed Sadiq and he went down like a man shot.

He lost consciousness and was bleeding. He had to be carried away from the ground straight to the hospital.

‘I thought he was dead,’ wrote his brother Mushtaq many years later in his biography.

Sadiq smashed in the face by a Roberts bouncer.
Sadiq smashed in the face by a Roberts bouncer.

Zaheer joined Majid and instead of being intimidated by Sadiq’s injury, both launched a hard hitting counterattack and took the score to 219. Zaheer fell for a solid 80, but Majid continued, playing perhaps one his most stylish and important Test innings.

Mushtaq fell cheaply, but Haroon and the lower order played around Majid until he was finally out for an epic 167 that included 25 fours.

Sadiq had also returned to bat – his cheek in stitches, and left eye bloodshot and swollen, he made a valiant 48.

Pakistan posted 540. Not only did they wipe out the lead but gave the West Indies 304 to make in less than a day.

The West Indies were 154-1 when the match ended in a draw. The Pakistanis had fought hard to earn it.

Mushtaq again contemplated dropping himself for the fourth Test at Queens Park in the Port of Spain. Once again Majid and Asif advised him to stay in the playing IX.

Salim Altaf was dropped and made way for Iqbal Qasim. There was some doubt about Sadiq’s availability, but the swelling on his cheek and eye seemed to have gotten better.

The Queen’s Park seemed to have the kind of reddish strip that the Pakistanis had encountered in the first Test in Bridgetown. It promised to play even and fair.

Lloyd won the toss and sent Pakistan in. The Pakistanis were struggling at 51-3 when Mushtaq joined Majid.

Mushtaq was tested with a series of quick bouncers by Croft and Roberts. But on the other end, Majid continued from where he had left in Georgetown.

He pulled, hooked and drove the West Indian fast men with disdain and took the score to 159 with Mushtaq.

Majid fell for 92. His innings was spiked with 14 fours and a six.

Majid leg-glances Croft for four at the Port of Spain.
Majid Khan.

Pakistan were soon 191-5 and still struggling when Asif got out. But then Mushtaq finally found his form. He played well with the lower-order and posted a vital 121 helping the team reach a respectable 341.

Mushtaq flashes a ‘V’ sign in the dressing room after cracking a century at the Port of Spain.
Mushtaq flashes a ‘V’ sign in the dressing room after cracking a century at the Port of Spain.

Mushtaq then carried his regained confidence into his bowling and bagged 5 wickets. He was amicably aided by Imran who bagged 4 and West Indies were shot out for 154, giving Pakistan a handy lead of 187.

But the lead seemed a tad too small when the West Indies quicks reduced the Pakistanis to 95-5 in their second innings.

During the tour, some Pakistani players had developed a great liking for ganja (a marijuana variant) that was easily available in the Caribbean.

One of its biggest fans was the elusive Wasim Raja. According to his teammate, the then 19-year-old Sikander Bakht, Raja was outside the stadium sharing a ganja joint with a few West Indies fans when Mushtaq and Asif were batting.

Raja came back into the dressing room and before he could pad-up, Asif got out. Raja quickly strapped on his pads and gloves, picked up his ‘SS Jumbo’ bat, and still very much stoned, strolled out to join Mushtaq.

Raja’s first scoring shot was a towering straight six off a fuming (and bewildered) Garner!

As Mushtaq grinded his innings, Raja continued to play his shots. He cut, drove, pulled and lofted, all the while being asked by skipper Mushtaq to slow down and hang in, but to no avail. Raja was on a roll again.

Raja smashes another four at the Port of Spain.
Raja smashes another four.

Mushtaq fell at 211 for a well-crafted 51. He was quickly followed by Raja (70), when after lofting Garner for his third six of the innings he tried to smash the tall fast bowler over long off again but was clean bowled.

Then Pakistan’s tail began to wag, and wagged hard when Imran and Sarfraz began to smash the West Indies attack all over the park.

Pakistan was finally bowled out for 301, gaining a lead of 488 runs.

Pakistan now had a day and a half to bowl out West Indies and square the series.

Sarfraz and Mushtaq reduced WI to 154-7 with 3 wickets each. But Pakistan’s advance towards victory was halted by a long and dogged partnership between Murray and Roberts.

They hung on, usurping precious time and taking the game into the last session of the Test match.

Desperation began to creep into the Pakistan side. PTV decided to hook up and show the session live on TV.

Mushtaq tried everything but the partnership just could not be broken.

Mushtaq threw the ball to Raja. Raja began to bowl looping leg-breaks, trying to draw the dogged Murray out of his crease to drive. He did exactly that and was caught by Sadiq.  WI 196-8.

New man, West Indies leggie Inshan Ali, came in, to play out time with Roberts.

But Ali went almost the same way as Murray did. Caught Sadiq, bowled Raja.

Pakistanis went ballistic. But there was still one wicket remaining. Raja continued to invite West Indies batsmen to drive him.

Roberts did that in Raja’s third over and did it well, lofting him for two huge sixes.

But as Raja bowled the fifth delivery of the over, Roberts expected another fligted ball. Instead Raja bowled a quick leg-break, making Roberts edge the ball into the waiting hands of Majid Khan in the slips.

It was all over. Pakistan had won the game and squared the series.

Mushtaq lifted on the shoulders by his team mates soon after Pakistan squared the series at the Port of Spain. (From Left): Iqbal Qasim, Mohsin Khan, Haroon Rashid, Sarfraz Nawaz, Wasim Bari, Javed Miandad, Imran Khan, Mushtaq Muhammad, Sadiq Muhammad, Asif Iqbal, Intikhab Alam, Zaheer Abbas, Saleem Altaf and Wasim Raja.
Mushtaq lifted on the shoulders by his team mates soon after Pakistan squared the series at the Port of Spain. (From Left): Iqbal Qasim, Mohsin Khan, Haroon Rashid, Sarfraz Nawaz, Wasim Bari, Javed Miandad, Imran Khan, Mushtaq Muhammad, Sadiq Muhammad, Asif Iqbal, Intikhab Alam, Zaheer Abbas, Saleem Altaf and Wasim Raja.

Post-match celebrations: Pakistan team celebrate with champagne and dancing at a West Indian nightclub. Seen in the picture are Wasim Raja (far left), Mudassar Nazar (left), Javed Miandad (right) and Sikandar Bakht (far right).
Post-match celebrations: Pakistan team celebrate with champagne and dancing at a West Indian nightclub. Seen in the picture are Wasim Raja (far left), Mudassar Nazar (left), Javed Miandad (right) and Sikander Bakht (far right).

From the day they landed in Australia, Pakistan had fought hard and successfully defied the odds.

They faced hostile fast bowling, quick pitches, an antagonistic press and taunts of being bunnies.

Now here they were, going into the last game of their long tour after squaring the series against the two leading and most feared sides of the world.

Another fast track awaited them in Jamaica. They dropped Qasim and brought in Sikandar Bakht to beef up the pace attack for the fifth and final Test.

Lloyd won the toss and surprisingly elected to bat. The Windies were soon in danger of being shot out under 200, but the hard-hitting West Indies opener Gordon Greenidge, posted a quick 100 to help West Indies reach 280.

Imran bowled sharply and was rewarded with 6 wickets.

Imran Khan endorsing the once famous Australian lager, Hemeling, in Jamaica.
Imran Khan endorsing the once famous Australian lager, Hemeling

Pakistan didn’t fare any better. They were shot out for just 198, with only Haroon Rasheed posting a fifty.

The Windies then squeezed the Pakistanis into a corner by making 359 and gaining a huge lead of 441 runs.

Sarfraz having a word with the West Indian umpire during the Jamaica Test.
Sarfraz having a word with the West Indian umpire during the Jamaica Test.

Batting now to save the game and the series, Pakistan faltered and were reduced to 138-5.

Asif Iqbal and Raja then set about to repair the damage; they decided to attack.

Raja was back slashing and pulling and Asif drove and cut as both took Pakistan to 253 before Raja fell for 64 trying to loft Halford out of the ground.

Raja created a then world record by cracking the most sixes in a Test series (14).

Imran hung around with Asif who completed his first century of the series. But the centre soon collapsed and Pakistan were all out for 301, losing the game and the series 2-1.

References

Books:

  • Inside Out: Mushtaq Muhammad (2006)
  • An All-Round View: Imran Khan (1992)
  • Cutting Edge: Javed Miandad
  • Zed: Zaheer Abbas (1983)
  • Pakistan Book of Cricket 1977: Qamar Ahmed
Magazines:
  • The Pakistan Cricketer  (December 1976; May 1977)
*Thanks to Aafia Salam for providing copies of The Cricketer from which I have used a number of priceless photographs of the two series.


Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (86) Closed




Blister
Mar 01, 2013 01:57pm
I havent watched cricket with interest since Pakistan lost to Australia after a miserable performance in the 1999 world cup final. I knew even then it was the end of Pakistani cricket as we knew it. But dude, this stuff you have put in increased my heart rate like it used to in those days... Lovely work. Well done.
Rash
Mar 01, 2013 07:52am
Chappel had placed 9 slips for lillee only for a photo for his upcoming book. Lillee had never in life 9 or even 5 slips at any other occassion other then that single delivery.
Javid Shirazi
Mar 01, 2013 08:04am
Still remember the way Mushtaq gelled his players. Theyt have all become legends. The current crop should take a leaf out of it.
Zee from USA
Mar 01, 2013 05:24pm
One reason I think our batsmen could excel against the quickest bowlers then, and our inability to do so now, was that hald the batsmen then played county cricket. Asif, Mushtaq, Zaheer, Majid, Sadiq - all played in England. We should get the current batsmen to play there as well to get used to faster wickets.
Capt C M Khan
Mar 01, 2013 06:27am
Mr Paracha you took me down the memory lane once again. TRUE those were the best teams Pakistan had but, why not today? Less Parchees those days, we were PAKISTANIS FIRST than anything else, Playing for the country and not for Bookies. Merit was respected today Wadeeras is respected. Had hard working coaches and players not Laptop players like today. Maybe there is still similar TALENT but, our CORRUPTION CULTURE stops it from SHINNING, that is all I can say and feel sad.
Fahim Khan, Canada
Mar 01, 2013 07:10am
on merit; not on quota
Masood Hussain
Mar 01, 2013 02:21pm
Only very keen and enthusiasticlovers of cricket, who know these facts already would read such articals
SS Jumbo
Mar 01, 2013 06:33am
Zabardast! What another great blast from the past by NFP. And yes, what a great series they were. And wow, the pics are awesome. What amazingly cool and classy players this team was made of. And just noticed, out of the 18 selected, 11 were from Karachi.
Yunus
Mar 01, 2013 06:25am
Still haven't read the piece, but after looking at the pics and the fact that it's by NFP, I know it'll be a gem. Thank you so much, NFP. I remember these two series well. What a team we were and how well we fought on those fast pitches.
Mujtaba
Mar 01, 2013 06:39am
Excellent article! I wonder if our modern bunny heroes even know history of pakistan cricket. The way they were bullied in current South Africa series, it does not seem they do.
Dr Dang
Mar 01, 2013 07:42am
Man,,, as a Indian in his mid 20's ... I find these pics hard to believe..Pakistan had some very tough & rugged cricketers.Looking at these pics looks like they played hard & partied harder. Their passion for cricket is quite evident.Honestly your current bunch of cricketers are a poor joke on your country .. not because of their performance . its what they do off field
AD
Mar 01, 2013 06:37am
Thank you NFP! I thought Glenfiddich 18 would work tonight, but after your piece, nostalgia took command...
Yawaralibhatti
Mar 01, 2013 03:39pm
Fair point, but not exactly. Sides used to play an even more number of side games before the Tests in the 1960s and early 1970s. And yet Pakistan used to suffer. Take the example of their 1972 Tour of Australia. They played a huge number of side games but were still hammered 3-0. The point NFP is trying to make is how a couple of senior members along with Mushtaq turned a talented young side into a fearless and selfless unit. Something Imran learned from and did it himself when he became captain. Of course, Mushtaq's side cannot be compared to today's team. His side was just too good and skilled. Also, in those days there were no helmets and the wickets were fast. Plus, cricket used to be wild because ICC had not yet come up with so many restrictions that we have now. Yes, these guys played hard and partied even harder. They were fearless. Today's players are softies compared to those guys. Imagine a guy like Raja getting away today after trashing his hotel room or walking into the middle to bat completely stoned! Or a Pakistani team celeberating in the dressing room with beer and champaign or endorsing beer brands. Those were different days. And as NFP once wrote in his Also Pakistan articles: Pakistan then was a completely different planet.
haris
Mar 01, 2013 05:22pm
"As the Pakistanis reached Georgetown for the third Test, Mushtaq contemplated dropping himself from the side. His batting formed had dipped and the defeat in the second Test seemed to have hit him hard." "Mushtaq again contemplated dropping himself for the fourth Test at Queens Park in the Port of Spain. Once again Majid and Asif advised him to stay in the playing IX." These two statements are the highlights of the article because they shows the stature of a worthy captain, player and the leader. I wonder if the very same thought would ever cross the mind of Mr. Reliable. Sure impossible!
Aslam
Mar 01, 2013 08:11am
even today if merit was the criteria Karachi players will take all the spots. No wonder we are the bunnies now. Sad to see the decline of Pakistan Cricket.
Yousuf
Mar 01, 2013 03:26pm
Great article and brings back wonderful memories of listening to the radio way into the night despite having to wake up for school the next morning... Still, its hardly fair to compare that team with the current team. For one, almost all the players at that time were busy in the County circuit and honed their skills in that environment. In addition, teams had the luxury of playing 3-4 first class games prior to the first test match, allowing players to acclimatize to the conditions. This can be clearly seen in the abysmal performance of Pakistan during the 1st test match of a test series in the last 15 or so years where usually 1 game is considered sufficient. So no NFP, Pakistan's success in those days in comparison to the current team, was not always due to their liking for booze and ganja :)
Goga Nalaik
Mar 01, 2013 01:30pm
Great article and very well documented (as usual)! Brought me back to my teen age. Your fan
hashim
Mar 01, 2013 01:09pm
Can't believe my eyes! An article by NFP without even a single mention of Islam and Zia? Now I am a believer: anything is possible!
Emmad
Mar 01, 2013 08:05am
Brilliant piece, the fact that these battles took place without helmets and all the protection gear available to the present lot makes it even more astonishing. However on the flip side the fact remains that despite our best possible efforts we didn't win either series, more than three decades have passed and the record remains the same no series wins in Australia, West Indies and none in South Africa either.
Karachi Wala
Mar 01, 2013 02:24pm
Good article down the memory lane. I would like to make a correction and some comments regarding Pakistan success in that time. 1- Intikhab Alam, like Zaheer Abbass, Saeed Anwar, Mohmmad Sami and you may have roots in Punjab but he played his entire first class cricket in Karachi, represented Karachi team in first class cricket. Thus, number of Karachites were 12 not 11. 2- Mushtaq Mohammad was a clever and successful Test captain but remember he was also handed one of the strongest team Pakistan ever had. 3- Top six Pakistan batsmen plus Imran, Sarfraz and Intikhab Alam had been playing county cricket for quite a few years, which was much more competitive and was played on wickets supporting Fast bowlers and Seamers much more when compared with wickets of these days. Each county was represented by 6 or 7 very high quality overseas players. For example, players like, Mike Proctor, Barry Richards, Clive Rice, Garth Le Roux from South Africa, Sir Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Gordon Greenidge of West Indies to name a few. In the presence of above mentioned players county cricket was highly competitive and of very high standards. 4.- Unfortunately, Pakistan, except in NewZealand still could not win a series against any top teams while playing overseas. Under Mushtaq, Pakistan won against lowly rated New Zealand but almost lost against a weak Australian team as they did not have the services of Kerry packer cricketers. If it was not for Sarfarz
Zee from USA
Mar 01, 2013 04:02pm
Ahh. those good ol days! I clearly remember the '76 tour of Australia. I was in high school in Rawalpindi and it was Eid day. My dad was in the Army and we went to visit one of his Army friends whose wife happened to be Majid Khan's sister. Like many youngsters Majid was my biggest hero then. I was thrilled to see Majid at my dad's friend's house, visiting for Eid the day before they were to leave for Australia. And with Majid was this other younger player that I did not know at the time - Imran Khan. I remember him as extremely shy, sitting in the room and he never spoke a word. Just a few weeks later everyone in the cricketing world knew who Imran Khan was. I will always remember the hook Majid hit in the 3rd test for six off Lillee to win. That put the exclamation mark on that tour. Next day my Australian school principal put up on the notice board a copy of an Austrlian newspaper clip that read "They came, they saw, they conquered". 32 years ago and I remember it as yesterday.
Andy S
Mar 01, 2013 02:11pm
The Pakistan team of the 70s, whom I have seen live, were a magnificent bunch. Their batting as well as their bowling attack was formidable. In fact all major test teams were good at the time. It was the pressure brought on by the formidable West Indians and Australians that seemed to raise everyones' game.
AHA
Mar 01, 2013 11:50am
Sweet memories. Thank you NFP.
Yawar
Mar 01, 2013 12:29pm
Epic stuff. NFP once again reminding us what we have lost and forgotten.
Karachi Wala
Mar 01, 2013 12:29pm
@ Aslam and Fahim Khan, what nonsense and rubbish.? In those days Pakistan had only two cricketing centers, Karachi and Lahore. Thus, all the cricketers came from those two cities. Abdul Hafeez Kardar, an oxford educated and first captain of Pakistan cricket team himself was from Lahore yet, the team selected for the twin tour of Australia and WI comprised 11 from Karachi. If anything he should be praised for that. After that tour and Pakistan beating India in 1978 and the emergence of Imran the fast bowler, cricket became so popular, that we even see players coming from places like Mardan (Younis Khan) Boreywala ( Waqar Younus, Mohmmad Zahid, Mohammad Irfan) and Multan (Inzimam ul Huq). I think it is about time that we Karachites, stop making everything politically motivated, and stop blackmailing everything and everyone from Politics to cricket.
shahid
Mar 01, 2013 12:30pm
at the end article really answers the question asked before the article
Karachi Wala
Mar 01, 2013 03:20pm
It is because he is talking about pre Zia era Cricket and When Zia's version of Islam had not taken roots in Pakistan cricket and Pakistan society.
Owais Ahmed
Mar 01, 2013 08:35am
Not, really. I remember the Sydney Test well. Greg Chappell had a constant cordon of 5 slips for Lillee and Mushtaq gave Imran 4 slips throughout his two devastating spells. In fact he even gave him a leg slip.
Asif Kahsmiri
Mar 01, 2013 08:35am
loved it....
Owais Ahmed
Mar 01, 2013 08:37am
Also, Miandad was constantly in the ear of Aistralian batsmen. :)
Owais Ahmed
Mar 01, 2013 08:40am
Imran is on record to say that the two captains he learned the most from were Ian Chappell and Mushtaq.
Ahmed
Mar 01, 2013 08:44am
Pakistan teams of that era were packed with cool cats. Fearless, flamboyant guys who, yes, played hard and partied harder. What a team it was.
Thinker (@aisikithaisi)
Mar 01, 2013 08:46am
Oh what an article. Thanks. Thanks.
zaidharis
Mar 01, 2013 09:02am
If some-one is a really purist Cricket Lover and really wants to enjoy feast of Great Fast bowling Please see the movie ''Fire in the Babylon" Perhaps Greatest Exhibition of Fast bowling in the history of Cricket
Capt C M Khan
Mar 01, 2013 09:14am
@Aslam, how many times have the Karachi players one the national championship???.I am from Karachi, unfortunately the cricket grounds have been converted into shopping centers by the corrupt politicians over the years. There are hardly any good grounds to provide good competition. And yes there may be great TALENT BUT, The PARCHEES OF KARACHI stop this talent from winning games and proving so sad.
Ahmed
Mar 01, 2013 09:30am
PTV-Sports and Geo keep showing silly highlights of matches, why can't they show highlights of this iconic series?
GloriousPakistan
Mar 01, 2013 09:49am
Pakistan was great once. Young, beautiful, strong, brave, just, fair, generous. May Allah again make it so. Pakistanis please help yourselves that Allah may again look at us with Grace and Forgive us for what we have done and failed. Vote the Great Khan...
Huma
Mar 01, 2013 09:57am
what fantastic article! loved it!
Tahir
Mar 01, 2013 10:02am
Whooping, my dear Piracha, is either a cough, or celebratory cry. I think you meant whopping, which means the scale of something. Nice article.
Rayan
Mar 01, 2013 10:12am
wasim raja would have been a swashbuckling T20 player....
Asif
Mar 01, 2013 10:36am
The Pakistan side of the 70s was full of flamboyant,dashing and charismatic cricketers like Asif Iqbal, Majid Khan, Imran Khan, Wasim Raja, Sarfraz Nawaz, Mohsin Khan,Javed Miandad, Haroon Rashid etc. All of them had a certain aura about them. They were a pleasure to watch.
Tania
Mar 01, 2013 10:57am
Is there anything this guy can't write about? And he does it with such style, authority and knowledge. Kudos to NFP. Politics, society, history, culture, satire and now cricket. Always a pleasure reading him.
Tahir Alvi
Mar 01, 2013 11:05am
NFP was always that way. I was with him at college in Karachi in the 1980s. He was a bold student leader who used to lead rallies against Zia ul Haq dictatorship. At the same time he was a notorious prankster and very very witty. He used to read books a lot and could speak on any subject. But he could sometimes become very aggressive and got into fights. What many of fans don't know is that he was also a pretty good cricketer. He represented the college team and also played high grade club cricket for a club in Karachi. He was a very solid opening batsman, and I once remember him taking Sikander Bakht's bowling apart at a club game at the famous Bakhtiari Youth Centre.
Observer
Mar 01, 2013 12:13pm
I just landed at the airport from a tour of Australia and West Indies. Thank you NFP Airline for the hospitality. I am already a frequent flier.
Yawar
Mar 01, 2013 12:49pm
Excellent point, Karachi Walla. Nevertheless, it hurts to see so few Karachiites in the team today.
Sudheer
Mar 01, 2013 12:53pm
What a wonderful writeup! Pen's magic at its best! I just watched more than half a dozen test matches in less than a twenty minutes! Hats off to the writer. Pakistan could produce such a great fighting cricketers simply because there were no faith posturing in the team those days. Look, how the guys are enjoying barley juice!! That's cricket!
Ali Bhatti
Mar 01, 2013 12:54pm
Awesome writing! Every young cricket fan in Pakistan should read this. Also, where on earth do you get all these amazing pics from, NFP. First the Also Pakistan series had these jaw-dropping photos and now this. And great seeing young Immy Khan endorsing a beer brand. ;)
Ashok Pandey
Mar 01, 2013 12:54pm
Beautiful pictures and article.. nadeem... Ia m always a fan of your columns
Karachi Wala
Mar 01, 2013 01:24pm
@ Yawar, Yes it hurts but unless we do away with negative thinking and finger pointing, I am afraid things will remain same. Also, we should come out of self imposed superiority complex, meaning thinking, we are better than rest of the Pakistan and Pakistanis.
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad
Mar 01, 2013 02:34pm
Excellent article supported by very nice elaborations with nostalgic pictures of yester years of 1976-77. In fact, the cutting edge of author here is his candid and frank description and interesting coverage of nothing less than eight test matches in-a-row. Those eight back-to-back test matches were played against Australia and the West Indies, who were the top teams in those days, by the then Pakistani cricket team under the able and dynamic leadership of Mushtaq Mohammad along with some other cricket greats like Majid Khan, Sadiq Mohammad, Asif Iqbal, Intekhab Alam, Wasim Bari, Wasim Raja, Sarfaraz Nawaz, Saleem Altaf, Asif Masood, Imran Khan followed by the 'new kids on the block' like Javed Miandad, Taslim Arif, Iqbal Qasim, Mudassar Nazar, Haroon Rashid and Sikander Bakht. Indeed, that was one of the best time periods in the 60 plus years old history of Pakistani test cricket and test cricketers. In the meantime, lot of water has passed under the famous Blanchette bridge of the mighty Missouri river as they say and things have changed a lot, both at the test as well as ODI's levels. On top of that, a new version of T20 cricket has emerged on the international scene, although it was played in the streets, parks and beaches of the world since long. Comparing that time and team with the current 'green-shirts' players of 2013 will be highly insulting, grossly painful, absolutely tragic and completely unjustified, to say the least. The standard of test cricket amongst the current players has nose dived for reasons beyond the scope, size and design of these trifle comments and observations.
Karachi Wala
Mar 01, 2013 03:00pm
" Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan suggested that Raja was brimming with extraordinary talent, but his detached attitude, and his temperamental and loner personality stopped him from realizing his true potential and become a constant part of a unit. As a batsman, Raja was a prodigy at 18 when he captained the Pakistan under-19 side. He used to practice with Imran Khan, quite often not bothering to wear pads. No wonder Khan wrote of him: "He was in a different class altogether and was already batting with a maturity beyond his years". In "An All round View" Imran Khan further states about an under 23 team that visited Sri Lanka and of which Wasim Raja was the Captain. The team had comprised of many other players who later represented Pakistan. Imran mentions Wasim Raja in following words,
Asif
Mar 01, 2013 06:05pm
May be our current PCB should read this article over and over to see how we used to be a good cricketing nation till the most corrupt of all times got hold of this great country and since than it took a noose dive and only the people of Pakistan specially the youth has to take control over and rid of this corruption including the people who are in control. I was too young to know any of this but enjoyed reading the article and only could imagine the awesome feeling that might have brought to this nation after these heroics.
Balwanjee
Mar 01, 2013 06:41pm
The team was like brothers and all the brothers were valiant.
10dulka
Mar 01, 2013 06:47pm
What makes the accomplishment even more impressive is that there were no neutral umpires back then. You failed to mention this very important fact
Umair
Mar 01, 2013 07:31pm
Fantastic writeup! Pakistan needs more historians like NFP. I know people will say that in the 70's, the Pakistan team had many players on the county circuit. It's probably worth mentioning that the Pakistan team that tied the 1987-88 series 1-1 in the West Indies against Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh, and Patterson had only Imran and Miandad with county experience at that point. Yet, the team batted boldly with a lowest score of 194. Their preparation for the tour included three 3-day games to acclimatize and a lot of throwdowns with wet tennis balls from 10 yards to prevent flinching from short-pitched deliveries.
Adi
Mar 01, 2013 08:37pm
great article! Although I am not a Pakistani, this write-up made me support the team. And hitting joel garner for six while being stoned, Wasim Raja is genius. This needs more publicity.
Aslam
Mar 02, 2013 06:11am
@Capt. Have you seen the first class record!!! or the T20 record with most appearances in the finals. I agree no true cricketing facilities left in Karachi. Look at the allocated funds by PCB to each board! Remember Quetta, Hyderabad??? what happened. PCB completely ignored them and no new development funds allocated. There is nepotism cant deny that
Asad Karim
Mar 01, 2013 09:41pm
What a fantastic article. Grew up in that era. To recount those memorable days almost 30+years ago was heart warming. I have printed this article and will share with friends. Really nostalgic in nature.
A fan
Mar 01, 2013 09:43pm
The team was selected by the people who were putting a team together not the Kardar or PCB political appointees.... those victories were sweet. Shame on PCB and Kardar
A fan
Mar 01, 2013 09:51pm
Brilliant Article... and a trip to the memory lane. some observations 1. A real team can do amazing things. 2. Team leadership should be in the hands of an able captain who selects his squad based on merit not pressure. 3. Teamwork is so critical to success. 4. Pakistanis have the potential to do amazing things , if given chance without medling 5. Merit based selection and depoliticization of teams is the first step towards winning 6. Booz, charas, Galanga are personal matters and we should not judge people based on them.. 7. Post Bhutto and Zia Pakistan, politicized institutions, have destroyed us-- we need to bring merit back in and stop crucifying people based on their beliefs or private matters. I am going to save this article for ever... thank you Nadeem Paracha Sahib, this is better written then what we understood at the time of these historical matches. thanks
Yousuf
Mar 01, 2013 10:55pm
Undoubtedly that was one of the strongest batting lineup Pakistan ever had, and to a large extent this was due to skills developed playing in England in the County Championships and not, IMHO, because they were hard partiers or drinkers. Sure you can play a large number of side matches to acclimatize yourself to a new locale but if you don't have the skills or capabilities or the opponent is too strong, none of this will help. Nonetheless it belies common sense to think that, all others being equal, additional matches does not provide any difference in getting accustomed to new conditions and pitches.
Yousuf
Mar 01, 2013 11:04pm
Take away Imran's 23 wickets in the series and Javed's 2 centuries, and you've got virtually nothing left from Pakistan's side. Pretty much proves the point regarding the county experience
Ahmed
Mar 01, 2013 11:24pm
Great article.
Karachi Wala
Mar 02, 2013 12:56am
If it was not for the terrible Apartheid policies of SA government, the World would have witnessed cricket of the highest caliber in 70
ali
Mar 02, 2013 02:49am
Those were the good old days,it was a hell of a side under Mushtaq, during his hey days Muistaq had a top class cricket brain.Another all rounder who has not been appreciated much was the stylish Asif Iqbal.
Aslam
Mar 02, 2013 06:15am
agree but they had the ability to learn and improve. Unlike the current bunch which never learned from their mistakes. Inzi was a great talent but wasted most of it via run outs :) never learned the game nor had the desire.
Asif
Mar 02, 2013 08:00am
don't get it. why is it great to see Imran endorsing a beer. what was great were his cricketing skills
Bhatti
Mar 02, 2013 08:18am
Fantastic, NFP. I remember these games well. Most interesting is how even when newspapers carried reports of Raja getting out of control at the hotel when drunk and smoking marijuana, nobody back home cared. That photograph of the guys dancing was taken at a party thrown in Pak team's honor by the West Indies Asian community. What great memories.
Bhatti
Mar 02, 2013 10:11am
amazing how drinking and use of drugs was common in old pakistani players. Wonder everybody in the squad enjoyed those habbits?
Bhatti
Mar 02, 2013 10:14am
look who is talking? Do you remeber Anil Kumblay and his favourite empire who gifted all pakistani wicket to him in India? Do you really understand what mean in terms of Indian cricket?
Sanjeev
Mar 02, 2013 09:42am
Pakistanis have been very good fighters no doubt, but a lot of their success at home is due to biased umpiring against the visitors. No Pakistani was given LBW or slight edge caught behind and opponent was given unwanted. Check the record book for this face. This led to the introduction to neutral umpires in international cricket starting from WI Pak series in late eighties.
Karachi Wala
Mar 02, 2013 10:56am
Sanjeev, lets put the records straight. True, there were no Aleem Dar's in Pakistan then and sometimes visiting teams complained about the standards of umpiring in Pakistan, but most of the teams complained about Indian umpiring most of the times when visiting India. Some times teams also complained about WI umpiring, the reason being the umpires were afraid for their own safety from rowdy and aggressive crowd if they were to give out a local favorite. The introduction of neutral umpiring was materialized due to Pakistan's push via the then head of BCCP Rtd. Air Marshall Nur Khan. Imran Khan was also very much in favor of such step. Note: PCB was then BCCP
Jawwad
Mar 02, 2013 04:08pm
Raja was truly the Shahid Afridi back then. Yep, we yearn for the days when no body cared back then. Funny how society becoming more religious or bigoted (anyway you want to put it) goes hand in hand with becoming more intolerant. Great piece NFP. Keep going and all the best.
Jawwad
Mar 02, 2013 04:19pm
The article was written to keep away exactly your kith. God has given your destiny in your own hands. Do what you want with it. Should your life be destined, then there is no concept of sin.
Saeed
Mar 02, 2013 04:37pm
Don't worrying I am sure he will write the next era , when enjoyment and liberty , gradually replaced by inzuamnul haq and other Pakistani cricketers gratitude sermon at the end of the game.
Zimbo_Indian
Mar 02, 2013 04:49pm
Thanx NFP, for taking us back to our childhood days. You must write about the Sarjah match in 1986 when Miandad scored a six off Chetan Sharma,s last ball, thereby sealing his career and destroying the confidence of a generation of Indian cricketers.
Rashid
Mar 02, 2013 04:57pm
Well, Imran Khan (Pakistan Captain) gave neutral umpires to Test Cricket. He demanded this after visiting India. He invited Indian Umpires for home series against WI (1986). Home teams have fared better since the introduction of a neutral umpire, with a win-loss ratio of 1.57:1 compared to 1.43:1 before. - see http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/511175.html
Vikas Gurung
Mar 02, 2013 05:39pm
Dear Pakistani's, every cricket nation has biased umpiring their home ground, but Pakistan was the most. See you haven beaten us in our home ground in very first series (in 1952 not series, but test) and in 1987 Pakistan won first series in India under the captaincy of Imran Khan. On the other hand when we toured Pakistan in 1989, there was one neutral umpire and one of Pakistani umpire, and first time India able to draw the series (0-0) and after that first series in 2003, both umpires were neutral and India create the history by defeating Pakistan in Pakistan (series score was 2-1 in India favour), so tell me whose umpires were most biased. However, it was Imran Khan, who first raise the voice for neutral umpire, I applaud him for the same.
Shahryar Shirazi
Mar 02, 2013 07:24pm
Just one picture, side by side, of these guys dancing in nightclub vs Inzamams Tableeghi Jamaat 11. What a contrast. Zia has messed with our country quite bad :) Shahryar
Keeping it real
Mar 02, 2013 10:01pm
There was a structure in place then. Cricketers were being selected from urban schools and colleges. Nowadays that system has collapsed, instead PCB commissions scouts to find talent from rural and remote areas. It's unfair to compare villagers to the city's big boys.
rajah
Mar 02, 2013 10:40pm
this is a wonderful narrative, I lived those moments once again GOOD OLD DAYS and our beautiful Pakistan
sacha paki
Mar 03, 2013 12:29am
yes sir pcb has turned from pakistan cricket board to punjab cricket board
Rashid
Mar 03, 2013 12:49am
NFP, Thank you for sharing. Loved it.
Razi
Mar 03, 2013 01:23am
Thank you for reliving these precious moments.....I recall each and every minute of this enthralling tour. Probably the best Test side Pakistan ever put together.
Chill It Man
Mar 03, 2013 02:31am
Allah helps those who help themselves. That is what he said. What was so hard to understand in what he said? I expect I have made it easier for your kith.
Farooq Mogul
Mar 03, 2013 02:44am
Agree with you 100%, Pak was a free and tolerant society then. No body would force anyone anything. People knew how to enjoy and celebrate, no restriction. Every one supposed to be responsible for his own deed as long as he was not hurting anyone else. Then came Zia, and Pakistan is not the same since-------.