KARACHI: Glowing tributes were paid to Pakistan’s former Test cricketer and chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu by sportsmen, colleagues and noted dignitaries in a grand reception arranged to celebrate his 50-year association with Pakistan cricket at a local hotel on Saturday.
Little Master Hanif Mohammad, who was the chief guest, former captain Intikhab Alam, T20 skipper Shahid Afridi, ex-skippers Moin Khan and Younis Khan and several others recalled their cherished association with Sallu and eulogised his principled stance as a national selector, a position that he held for a record ten times including twice as chief selector.
Renowned writer and humourist Anwar Maqsood, who acted as the master of the ceremony, had the audiences in splits with his crisp remarks and cricketing anecdotes which made the evening a truly memorable occasion indeed.
Sallu, 68, was admired by the speakers for his knowledge and love for the game and for selecting and grooming so many talented players during his various tenures as selector including Saeed Anwar, Moin, Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Saqlain Mushtaq who went on to become the legendary figures of the game.
Though Sallu managed to play only five Test matches for Pakistan, his love for the game never diminish and he continued to serve Pakistan cricket in one or the other capacity throughout during the past 50 years. Currently, he is working as the advisor to the PCB Chairman and is active as ever.
The 81-year-old Hanif, who graced the occasion despite his health problems, fondly recalled Sallu’s Test debut against New Zealand in 1965 and how he stemmed the rot in another Test at Lahore to make things more conducive for the Little Master.
“It rained that day and after winning the toss New Zealand captain John Reid sent us in to bat. We lost three quick wickets so I asked Sallu to pad up and promoted him above me,” recalled the Little Master. “Sallu played bravely for some 30 minutes and then there was lunch break. By the time I came in to bat, the conditions were better and I scored an unbeaten 203. The match ended in a draw but the credit for my double century goes to Sallu,” said Hanif.
Record breaking batsman Younis said he is highly obliged to Sallu for spotting his talent in the very first game. “I still remember the first season I played for HBL at first-class level in 1998-99, where Sallu bhai said of me later: ‘This boy is going to play Test cricket for Pakistan’,” recalled the 38-year-old Younis. “I can proudly say that late Dr Mohammad Ali Shah and Sallu bhai were the first people to appreciate me as a cricketer.”
Nadeem Omar, owner of Pakistan Super League’s Quetta Gladiators team, recalled his first interaction with Sallu during a veterans’ cricket match 22 years ago.
“Sallu bhai told me that I have a great future in cricket ahead. Unfortunately, I could not do much at cricket. It might be because Sallu bhai was not a selector at the time,” said Nadeem.
Sallu, later spoke briefly about his association of five decades with Pakistan cricket and thanked everyone including his captains and colleagues as well as the PCB administrators who kept faith in his abilities to support him all through his cricketing journey. Known for his penchant for good poetry, Sallu also rendered a few couplets to end the evening that was organised by Omar Associates in association with the AlBaraka Bank.
Renowned personalities such as ex-opener Sadiq Mohammad, former pacers Jalauddin and Saleem Jaffar, veteran writer Qamar Ahmed, KCCA’s Siraj Bukhari, senior Sindh officials Asad Ashraf Malik and Iqbal Umer, bankers Shuja Kidvai and Ovais Asad besides many others attended the reception.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2016