Javed Miandad: Whenever he played, ‘it was war’

Miandad was one Pakistani cricketer who had no intentions of making any friends on the cricket pitch.
Published June 12, 2015

“As far as I was concerned, cricket was war and I was at war whenever I played,” batting genius Javed Miandad said in his autobiography.

He lived every word of it during a cricketing career which spanned two decades.

Javed Miandad's iconic six at Sharjah — YouTube

Miandad was one Pakistani cricketer who had no intentions of making any friends on the cricket pitch.

It was all a part of a constantly crunching mindset of which the sole purpose was to achieve a win.

While his personality, most often than not, riled up the opposition, anyone who ever played with him or watched him operate, was in agreement about his greatness as a batsman and master tactician.

The ‘Karachi Streetfighter’, as he became to be known during his playing days, represented Pakistan in 124 Tests and 233 ODI, scoring 8832 and 7381 runs respectively.

He is arguably the greatest batsman Pakistan ever produced.

Javed Miandad batting for Pakistan during the 1st Test match against England at Old Trafford in Manchester, 9th June 1987. The umpire is Dickie Bird. The match ended in a draw. — File
Javed Miandad batting for Pakistan during the 1st Test match against England at Old Trafford in Manchester, 9th June 1987. The umpire is Dickie Bird. The match ended in a draw. — File

Miandad the captain

How can a captain who failed to retain his position for more than two years at a stretch and faced two players’ rebellions be considered great?

To begin with, out of the 34 Tests that he captained, he won 14 and lost just 6.

Miandad had one of the sharpest cricketing brains and understood the game like any good cricket captain would. But unlike a good captain, his man-management skills were a disaster.

He was a master at sledging and at ‘working up the opposition’ with his continuous chatter and insults. And though he used this as a tactic to disturb the opposition, it also got the team into unnecessary controversies.

But interestingly many experts believe that more than a captain, Miandad was the perfect vice-captain.

Apart from captaining the side whenever Imran Khan was injured or unavailable, Miandad always willingly returned to being Imran’s deputy.

Former Australian skipper, Ian Chappell, and Pakistani cricket commentator, Chisti Mujahid, once described the Imran-Miandad combination as one of the most formidable think-tanks in the game.

This combination turned the Pakistan team into a strong side in the late 1980s, and both the players then played a leading role in helping Pakistan win the 1992 cricket World Cup.

During Pakistan’s 1987 tour of England, Pakistan, after being one-up in the series, was in danger of losing the fifth Test match when England needed 118 runs in about 20 overs.

Batting aggressively, England batsmen seemed to be well on their way when captain Imran and his deputy Miandad decided to halt the runs in a unique manner.

Miandad martialed the field on the off side while Khan (who was also bowling most of the overs), looked after the field on the on-side.

Famous commentator, Richie Benuad, was fascinated by the tactic. Pakistan saved the game and won its first ever series against England. (By Nadeem Farooq Paracha)

Captaincy Record (1980-82/1985-86/1988/1992-3): Tests: 14 won, 6 lost, 14 drawn. ODIs: 26 won, 33 lost, 1 tied, 2 no result

Miandad on his ‘role’ in revolutionising ODI cricket:

Looking back I feel I was fortunate enough to play a small part in unleashing the true potential of the excitement and enthusiasm for the format, which had been hidden until then.

My last-ball six in the final of the Australasia Cup in Sharjah in 1986 to beat India, changed the game in a way.

Teams, officials, players and, most importantly fans, all started to believe in the format and its’ potential.

Now players would fight till the very last ball was bowled knowing they could triumph at the very last instant. Fans knew likewise, that every game was alive until the last ball was bowled.

An Irish band's tribute to ‘Mr Miandad’

Miandad on the infamous Lillee incident

I don't think Dennis or any other Australians had expected to see a Pakistani player like me who simply refused to back down.

We were after all only from Pakistan and he felt he could take liberties with us.

Had I been captain of England, I wonder if the idea of retaliating with a kick on the pads would even have entered Dennis' mind.

The stars on Miandad

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell

“Javed Miandad was the archetypal champion if he's on your side, bastard if he's an opponent. With his skill, perseverance and street-urchin cunning, Javed won grudging respect as one of the finest batsmen in the game.”

Former West Indies captain and batting legend Viv Richards

“Imran and Miandad are two of the most patriotic individuals I have met, and I can identify with that. I am quite certain you wouldn't be hearing stories about match-fixing and other bad things if they were at the helm. Both would die for their country.”

Former Indian captain Ravi Shastri

“I hated Miandad’s guts.”

Former Indian bowler Chetan Sharma

“Whoever meets me for the first time, the first question that comes is about the last-ball six that Javed Miandad hit me for. It keeps happening. I have even started enjoying it now.”

Former Pakistan spinner and team mate Mushtaq Ahmed

“I was frightened to be on his table at dinner because I knew he would bombard me with questions about what I had done wrong on the pitch during the day.”

Did you know?

1) In his younger years, Miandad used to bowl leg-spin.

His first ODI wicket was that of the West Indies legend Clive Lloyd. New Zealand all-rounder Richard Hadlee was his first Test scalp.

Miandad even managed to pick up six 5-wicket hauls in first-class cricket.

One of the few Pakistani cricket players Miandad has respect is for another batting legend: Inzamam-ul-Haq. However, as many people agree, Miandad said Inzamam should have worked on his running.

2) Miandad's rates India's Sunil Gavaskar and West Indies' Viv Richards as his favourite players.

3) Miandad was Pakistan's youngest captain.

4) Viv Richards reportedly once said: “If I have to choose a batsman to bat for my life, it would be Miandad.”

Miandad's greatest World Cup XI

  1. Sachin Tendulkar
  2. Gordon Greenidge
  3. Viv Richards
  4. Javed Miandad
  5. Clive Llyod
  6. AB De Villiers
  7. Imran Khan
  8. Abdul Qadir
  9. Richard Hadlee
  10. Joel Garner
  11. Michael Holding
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This article originally appeared on Dawn.com on June 12, 2015