KARACHI/LAHORE: Former players and administrators paid glowing tribute to the legendary Pakistan cricketer Hanif Mohammad, who died after losing a long battle with cancer in Karachi on Thursday.

Ex-national captain and country’s second highest Test run-getter Javed Miandad described Hanif as one of the greatest cricketers of all time and said in his death Pakistan cricket has suffered an irreparable loss.

“This is the saddest day in our cricketing history at the death of a true legend that Hanif bhai certainly was. His legacy will remain as long as cricket is played but in my view, he was a cricketing institution, not just in Pakistan but the entire world,” Miandad remarked. “The man was a machine who would operate without stopping. He was definitely very clever at reading the match situations brilliantly. At this point in time my deepest sympathies are with his family members, especially [son] Shoaib who played a lot alongside me for Pakistan. May Allah Almighty rest his soul in peace and give his near ones patience to bear such a huge loss.”

Former wicket-keeper and ex-chief selector Wasim Bari, while expressing his condolences, pointed out the great virtues of Hanif.

“He was undoubtedly the Rock of Gibraltar in Pakistan cricket and legends like Sir Donald Bradman and Sunil Gavaskar commented Hanif was the pillar on which Pakistan cricket was laid,” Bari said. “Many people don’t know Hanif also kept wickets and was a good one. Before my first tour with Pakistan, Hanif taught me how to dive during the training camp for that 1967 trip to England. It was a great gesture since he was our captain as well.

“Moreover, he was a shrewd reader of everything associated with the game. His mastery at reading the pitch was exemplary and such was his standing that Hanif was assigned by the cricket board to supervise preparation of pitches during the 1987 World Cup.”

Ex-Test wicket-keeper Imtiaz Ahmed, who now along with Waqar Hasan remains the only surviving members of the XI who played in Pakistan’s inaugural Test, recalled his association with Hanif.

“No doubt he was an outstanding cricketer and Allah blessed him with a lot of talent. We played cricket together and I thoroughly enjoyed his company since we always enjoyed our cricket,” Imtiaz said. “Hanif had great cricketing skills and was a great expert at batting on all sorts of surfaces. His memories will always live with me.”

Ex-Pakistan spinner Iqbal Qasim observed Hanif was a superstar in his own right. “He played in an era when there were no such things as glamour and money. And yet, Hanif was a superstar for his sheer greatness as a cricketer.”

Former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu recalled how Hanif came to Lucknow to see him play when he was a teenager. “Before I began my Test career under Hanif’s captaincy, he visited the Gomti ground in Lucknow to watch our match and immediately took me under his wings. I was truly inspired by his humbleness from thereon.”

Ex-Pakistan paceman Saleem Altaf said he learnt a lot while playing under Hanif.

“I have never seen an opener like Hanif and just imagine what a classic opening pair Hanif and Sunil Gavaskar would have made if they had played together,” Saleem said. “Playing only 55 Tests in 18 years was unfortunate because there was no much cricket in those days.”

Mohammad Ilyas, who also played under Hanif, said he was a gentleman, a soft-spoken person and very caring man.

“Once I was sitting with great West Indian all-rounder Sir Garry Sobers in England where the legendary cricketer offered great remarks about Hanif. Sir Sobers has said that Hanif is among the best player in the world and he [Sobers] has never seen the technique, passion and determination in any other cricketer, which Hanif has,” Ilyas reminisced.

Ilyas said that he never saw Hanif raise his voice since his eyes were enough to convey the others if he was angry with anyone.

Meanwhile, PCB chairman Shaharyar M. Khan, chief of the executive committee Najam Sethi and CCO Subhan Ahmed also condoled the death of Hanif.

“The entire cricketing fraternity, in this country and all over the cricketing world, is in mourning over the sad demise of Hanif Mohammad. His legend shall live forever,” said Shaharyar.

“The entire PCB family expresses its deepest sorrow and sympathies to the Mohammad family, on the great legend’s passing away,” Sethi said.

“May the soul of the departed rest in eternal peace. The prayers and wishes of everyone at the PCB are with Shoaib Mohammad and the entire Mohammad family. May Allah give them strength and fortitude to bear this loss,” Subhan said.

Former PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf, while talking to Dawn from Abu Dhabi, commented: “You can’t think of a better cricketer to play the sport. Hanif was a source of great inspiration for the younger generation of cricketers. He was just not only forthright and humble as a human being, for me he was the one of the true icons of world cricket.”

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2016

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