With Daniel (Danny) Kyle Morrison, best mate in the commentary box
With Daniel (Danny) Kyle Morrison, best mate in the commentary box

The former Pakistan Test cricketer and now commentator Bazid Khan hails from an illustrious cricketing family. His grandfather Jahangir Khan represented undivided India and both he and his father Majid Khan played Test cricket for Pakistan, making it only the second instance of three generations featuring in Test cricket — after the West Indian/English Headley family.

Recently, Eos sat down with Bazid Khan who is fast earning the reputation of a witty com-box man. The following are excerpts from his interview:

Q. How are you coping with life in quarantine?

Bazid Khan: Well, at first it was good to spend some time with the family and being at home because last year I’ve been away a lot. But it is getting difficult now as it is getting to be quite boring. Cycling is my getaway. I cycle a lot now. I cycle around Islamabad and, as you know, the city can be boring, but it is very pretty and probably the best place in Pakistan to cycle around in.

Q. Tell us about your childhood. How did you start out in cricket? Was there any family pressure to carry the family legacy forward?

BK: There was never any pressure from home or family to play cricket. Maybe sometimes they wanted me not to play because I was so focused on it. Believe it or not, I was very obsessed with cricket from the beginning. Not many people know this, but when I went to the Beacon House School in Islamabad, there was a very influential person in my cricketing career there. His name was Omar Ali Khan and he was the son of Shahryar Khan [former Chairman PCB]. He taught at the school while also running a cricket team for them.

Bazid Khan may not have succeeded as a Test player but, as a cricket commentator, he seems to be gradually getting comfortable with the mic and winning many a heart

Q. Do the players who come from cricketing families have a difficult or different career path?  

BK: I suppose they do have a different career. For that matter, every player has a different career, as it is very personalised with different factors to it. But yes, when you come with a name attached to you or from a cricketing family, you’re always compared to the legends that have come before you. In my case, I was always compared to my father and uncles rather than being judged for what I possess. Yes, it is difficult and it is different, especially in the Subcontinent. I think when you start out, it is an advantage because everybody knows that you’re a son or a nephew of some former player, so you get a kickstart. But then, once you start playing professionally, it becomes an added pressure.

Q. You played cricket with Imran Tahir and Misbah-ul-Haq. Did they look like ‘international material’ to you at the time?

BK: Yes, I played a lot with Imran Tahir, from the Under-19s to the Lahore team to club cricket against him, first-class cricket with him and the ‘A’ Teams and all that. I always thought there was something about him, especially in the shorter format, where he would make an impact with his fantastic googly. He looked the part, too. I always thought that he would make it to the Pakistan team. But he wasn’t selected here so he moved to South Africa and proved to everyone that he was good. I always thought he was good.

About Misbah-ul-Haq, again, when I started playing with him, I thought how could this man not play international cricket! He just didn’t get out and nothing seemed to faze him. He should’ve played a lot earlier than he did, but when he did play, he made it count.

Q. As a batsman, which fast bowler impressed you the most in first-class cricket and why?

BK: That’s a difficult one. Most fast bowlers I played against impressed me because it was difficult to get runs against them. Look, I’ll go for somebody who has played a lot of first-class cricket and didn’t get a lot of recognition at the international stage. I think Fazl-e-Akbar Durrani was a fantastic bowler. He bowled in that era where you had so many good fast bowlers in Test and first-class cricket. He was exceptional with the new ball and I was surprised that he didn’t make an impact in international cricket.

Q. What are your thoughts on the ‘Australian model’ new domestic structure? Will it work in the long run?

BK: Well, firstly it is not the Australian structure. Yes, the only similarity is that there are six teams, but the Australian structure is based on teams that represent their states. If you look at the Pakistan map, there is no such thing as a ‘Northern’ or ‘Central Punjab’. It is quite strange really. Six teams are not enough, especially for Pakistan, which is a one-sport country. The teams are not representing your areas. Even in the previous set-up, there was a problem with regions. There is no such thing as ‘region’ on the Pakistan map and that is the problem.

They did away with departments on the idea that the teams would be based on localities, but these six teams are not based on localities. It is the first time that Lahore and Karachi — the largest cities, which produce the most players in first-class cricket — don’t have first-class teams.  I don’t know if this system will last long.

Q. Initially, as a commentator you got a lot of flak for being ‘boring’ but now you’ve got a cult following. People are calling you the ‘Bumble’ of Pakistan [Former England cricketer and current commentator David Lloyd is popularly known as Bumble]. How and when did things change for you?

BK: I don’t think the flak has stopped. I still get a lot of it. I don’t know if I’ve got a cult following or not, but I’m not too sure it has. Well, maybe like all things, once you keep on doing the same thing, you get comfortable with it. So, perhaps, I’m more comfortable with the microphone now.

Q. Do you have any mentor in commentary? 

BK: I wouldn’t say a mentor. I think the first time I picked up the microphone it was in the series between Pakistan and South Africa in the UAE. Mike Haysman and Kepler Wessels were also commentating there. Haysman was brilliant and he helped me a lot throughout that series. He made sure I was comfortable commentating and he imparted as much as he could, guiding me in every way. Even Wessels would sit with me and talk to me to make sure that I was comfortable enough to express myself. He also guided me through that initial phase. Then I also commentated a lot with Danny Morrison, who helped me throughout my development and career. I think Allan Wilkins has also guided me that way. All these commentators have helped me a lot. 

 Q. Your best mate in the commentary box?

BK: Well, the best mate, I would have to say is Danny Morrison, just because of the fact that he is brilliant. The first time I did studio work in the UAE, it was with Morrison with me, so the first or second day we struck up the friendship and it has stayed till now.

Q. You were part of the commentary panel for the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa. Did you spot any young talent there?

BK: It was a terrific tournament. The skill at the under-19 level was amazing, because you wouldn’t expect these young players to be so very good and it would surprise and shock you that you’re watching U-19 cricket. The West Indian fast bowler Jayden Seales was very impressive. The Indian opener Yashasvi Jaiswal was fantastic and, from Pakistan, Haider Ali had a good tournament and looked good. If you look at the tournament overall, the skill level of U-19 players was phenomenal. Even a couple of spinners were so accurate. 

Q. How was the experience of commentating in Urdu during the Pakistan Super League [PSL]? Do you think it has a future?

BK: It was different, it was quite fun and we were told to try and make it as if we were talking about cricket with a bunch of friends, to just keep it light. I thought it was quite interesting, but I think only the public can tell if it was any good. My view is that for PSL, Urdu commentary is a must, because you need the option of Urdu commentary, whether it is serious or just banter with each other, which we did this time around.

Q. Any suggestions about how to pick the PSL 5 winner?

BK: They have to wait, and the solution is having the play-offs and the final. It will be unfair to crown a winner in the tournament that hasn’t gone through the knockout stage. Hopefully, whenever there is a window and things get better, they should play the games out and then get a winner. I wouldn’t like to have another way to it.

Q. Judging by your social media posts, it seems that food has a special place in your heart. Your thoughts?

BK: Yes, it has a special place in my heart. Most people fail to admit it but I’m the one who admits to my love for food. I think if you look at my social handles, my profile does say ‘carnivore’.

The writer tweets @CaughtAtPoint

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 28th, 2020