Pakistan weregranted Test status in 1952, five years after their independence, at a meeting of the Imperial Cricket Conference which took place at Lords. Their first ever tour was, in thesame year, to India for a 5-match Test series which they eventually lost 2-1. Results were hard to come by, initially, with there being a lack of professionalism in the game in Pakistan. The watershed moment for their cricket probably came in the year 1954 when they managed to beat England, their colonial masters, for the very first time at The Oval in London and managed to draw the series 1-1, with fast bowler Fazal Mahmood, who took 12 wickets in the match, being the star of the show. Pakistani cricketers, over the years, have gained a reputation of being brilliant and erratic at the same time. A lack of cricketing infrastructure in the country means that a lot of their players actually do not receive a lot of coaching in their early years, and the system is such that, by and large, they are allowed to develop their skills on their own. This is perhaps the reason that they tend to find cricketers with raw but unique ability with more regularity than other countries.Here are the 10greatest Pakistani cricketers of all-time:
#10 Fazal Mahmood
Pakistan have had a plethora of outstanding fast bowlers over the years in the form of Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis….the list goes on, highlighting the strong fast bowling culture existing in Pakistan. But the first outstanding fast bowler from Pakistan and the man who started it all was, undoubtedly, Fazal Mahmood.
Born in Lahore, Punjab in 1927, Mahmood was the star of the Pakistani bowling line-up in the 1950s. He was the match-winner in both of Pakistan’s first two Test victories against India and England, in 1952 and 1954 respectively, as he took a colossal 24 wickets in the two Tests combined. He went on to play a defining role in a lot of Pakistan’s success throughout that decade before eventually retiring in 1962.
The great Hanif Mohammad, when asked about his colleague, said: "He was a great human being, always willing to help anyone who sought his advice. All our wins since we started playing Test cricket were indebted to him."
#9 Younis Khan
One of Pakistan’s modern greats, Younis Khan has been a brilliant servant to Pakistan cricket over the last 15 years. With Pakistan’s batting being considerably weaker in recent years, the onus on scoring big runs in Test cricket has been mainly on Younis along with one or two others, and Younis has shouldered that responsibility and delivered consistently.
He is Pakistan’s third highest run-getter in Test cricket, only behind Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq, having scored 7589 runs in 90 Tests at an average of 51.97 and, having racked up 24 Test hundreds, is just one behind Inzamam for most hundreds by a Pakistani batsman.
#8 Abdul Qadir
Abdul Qadir is, far and away, the greatest leg-spinner Pakistan have ever produced. He took 236 wickets in his 67 Test matches and has the best figures in an innings for a Pakistani in Test cricket, having taken 9/56 against England in Lahore in 1987. Graham Gooch, who was one of Qadir’s 9 dismissals, said that Qadir was even better than Shane Warne, and there can surely be no bigger compliment to Qadir than that. He was a true magician with the ball in hand as he had a bag of tricks up his sleeve, often using 2-3 variations in one single over and possessed a well disguised googly with which he confounded plenty of batsmen.
Inzamam-ul-Haq doesn’t often get mentioned alongside the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara when it comes to discussing modern batting greats, but his record is not far behind those just mentioned.
When Inzy, as he was fondly known, came into the Pakistan side in 1991, Pakistan captain Imran Khan waxed lyrical about the man from Multan and called him one of the best batsmen, he had seen, against pace bowling. Given the abundant talent Inzy had, he could have probably achieved more in his international career, but he wouldn’t be too dissatisfied after all, having scored 8830 runs from 120 Tests at an average of 49.60, not to forget his 11739 runs from 378 ODIs at an average just a touch under 40.
#6 Zaheer Abbas
Zaheer Abbas, scorer of 100 first-class centuries and known as the Asian Bradman, was a delight to watch when in full flow. Part of a strong Pakistan side of the 1970s, he, for a long time, was the backbone of their batting line-up along with Javed Miandad.
The biggest highlight of Abbas’ career was the 274 that he made against England at Edgbaston in just his 2nd Test match. He forged a reputation very quickly for being one of those batsmen who had a penchant for big scores and would very rarely get out once he got his eye in. He certainly did justice to that reputation as he went on to score three more double hundreds in his Test career.
He finished his Test career at the age of 38 after having scored more than 5000 runs from his 78 Tests.
#5 Waqar Younis
Waqar Younis, along with his senior partner Wasim Akram, caused mayhem to batsmen across the world in the 1990s.
Blessed with raw pace and aggressive by nature, Younis was absolutely deadly especially when the ball started to reverse. Possessing a slingy round-arm action, he aimed at base of the stumps more than other fast bowlers and, to his credit, generally hit his target.
His ultra-aggressive outlook meant that he was prone to leaking runs once in a while, but that didn’t matter to him as long as he was getting the wickets.
Injuries and clashes with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) meant that he played his last match for Pakistan by the age of 31, relatively early, but he did enough in that time to be regarded as one of the greatest fast-bowlers of all-time.
He took 373 wickets in 87 Tests at a strike-rate better than any bowler to have taken more than 200 Test wickets in addition to picking 416 wickets from 262 ODIs.
#4 Javed Miandad
Although it was Hanif Mohammad who paved the way for Pakistan batsmen with his performances in the 1950s, Javed Miandad, you could argue took it to another level with his achievements as a Pakistan cricketer.
Miandad was recognized as a special talent right from his early days, and he didn’t disappoint one bit as he made scores of 163 and 206 against New Zealand in his debut Test series itself. That was just a sign of things to come as he went on to make several such contributions over the course of his long-standing international career.
He finished his Test career against Zimbabwe in 1993 as the leading run-getter for Pakistan in Test match cricket, having made 8832 runs from 124 Tests at an average of 52.57. In addition to his exploits as a Test batsman, he was a fantastic ODI cricketer too, scoring 7381 runs in 233 ODIs at a brilliant average, by ODI standards, of 41.70 and was an integral part of the 1992 World Cup winning side.
#3 Hanif Mohammad
Born in present-day India, Hanif Mohammad was the first truly outstanding batsman to emerge from Pakistan. Known as the “Little Master”, he played 55 Tests for Pakistan in a career that spanned 17 years, and in that time, he scored 3915 runs at an average of nearly 44.
The highlight of his long career was undoubtedly his triple hundred against West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1957-58. Facing a deficit of 473 runs after the 1st innings, Hanif made 337 in an innings that lasted more than a colossal 16 hours, thereby salvaging a miraculous draw from a hopeless situation.
His record of playing the longest Test match innings ever has stood the test of time, and his 337 is also the only occasion that a batsman has scored a triple century in the 2nd innings of a Test match.
#2 Wasim Akram
At his best, I’m sure batsmen of his generation would vouch for the fact that there was no bowler more menacing than Wasim Akram, who had the ability to swing the ball both ways, from over and around the wicket, at speeds of 90 mph and more.
The 1992 World Cup final between Pakistan and England in Melbourne probably sums up the genius of Akram. In the 35th over of England’s run chase, Akram, bowling around the wicket, took the crucial wicket of Allan Lamb with a ball that was coming in with the angle before leaving Lamb at the last moment, knocking Lamb’s off-stump out of the ground. Just to show that he could bring the ball back in as well, he bowled England all-rounder Chris Lewis off the very next ball with a delivery that came back in sharply to the right-hander.
He finished his career with 414 Test wickets and 502 ODI wickets from 104 and 356 matches respectively.
#1 Imran Khan
There was supposedly a fierce rivalry between Imran Khan and Javed Miandad during their time with Pakistan, but I don’t think even Miandad can dispute that Imran is the greatest cricketer Pakistan have ever produced.
Imran is also one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of the game and had a major role in transforming a mediocre side into one that ran the invincible West Indies side of the 1980s close on a couple of occasions in Test cricket apart from having the distinction of leading Pakistan to their only 50-over World Cup victory in 1992.
He took 362 wickets in just 88 Tests at an average of 22.81 and also scored 3807 runs at an average close to 40 in a career that spanned 2 decades. Apart from his own contributions on the field, he also deserves immense credit for moulding the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, both of whom he picked out of gut instinct, into the champion bowlers that they became.