Monday, August 15, 2011

Heroes Of Indian And Pakistani Cricket For Independence Day

In this time of year, where both the proud Nations of India and Pakistan celebrate their respective Independence Days. Firstly, we must give our best wishes to the fine citizens of both Countries. Wishing that their present and future is symbolised by peace, prosperity and great happiness.


Then we must give thanks, for their unique style of cricket, that has so filled our minds with great memories


Here are a few of my tales


1. How Can One Choose School Over India! (India)


I got sent to South Africa under the guises of 'schooling' in 1964, but I knew it was more due to the fact that I was one indiscretion away from being put in the pen. I had no knowledge of cricket, but my aunt was a South African fanatic, an with a stare that was so hot, that she could turn sand into glass. I tried to stay away from her during cricket, for any dispute often lead to her showing her expertise in using a cane on me.


Though I become immersed in the words of an Indian friend of hers.....


We'd eat masala dosa, and he'd talk about the magic of an art in regards to spin bowling. The name Subhash Gupte would come up and his eyes would open up wide talking about the leg spinners web of intrigue and genius skill....


Then a name of another came up of Erapili Prasanna, and his brow would furrow, as his words got harsh.....and he thought he would spare my impressional ears by being critical in Afrikaans

Ja....Ek kan nie verstaan ​​hierdie seun!......
dwase seun .... om Indiƫ tweede

Translated, he couldn't understand how a bowler as talented as Prasanna could step out of playing for Team India in Tests to finish his studies

I'd get him a glass of water, so he wouldn't hyperventilate, and then allow him to wax lyrically about this genius..........

Soul stillness broer (brother) is what his flight is like. It just traps the batsmen in the moment, and then before he realises it. The trap has been sprung and he is walking back to the Pavilion with a bemused, puzzled look on his face.

Then so strong, bowl ball after ball, over after over, like it was a marathon between him and the batsmen, and he would always outlast them.

You saw it in his eyes, like a cobra's intent he'd have his prey under his spell. then before they even realised, he'd strike with his deadly varieties.

I was under this spell as well, and wasn't disappointed when I too had the pleasure to bask in Prasanna's genius.

2. The Aura- Imran Khan (Pakistan)

Ive seen many cricket stars, and indeed some genius's, but I struggle to find one with the aura of Imran Khan.

He not only could do anything on the field with bat, ball or indeed as a leader of men. Though off it, he became transcendent, through the effect he had on people and his Nation.

Even now as he is in his 60's, he still has the women going gaga over his regal looks

His legacy though was profound. Ignoring his own exceptional career accomplishment, it was what he brought to the game and left to the game.

His insistence on including leg spinner Abdul Qadir in the Team in the 70's was scorned upon, but his success had everyone reassessing the culture in the game at the time. Where everyone mimicked the West Indies and their dominance on the back of their 4 fast men. Imran showed them, what was forgotton in the game at the time. That spin could be just as devastating. The fact that the Windies always struggled against Pakistan was largely attributed to Qadir's mastery against them.

As a result, it had Team scouring long and far for Leg Spinner, and largely paved the way for Shane Warne.

The World Cup win in 1992 was largely attributed to Imran Khan's leadership. Not only during the Tournament, but before it by the players he insisted in having in the Team. Like Wasim Akram and Aaqib Javid.

Even in retirement, his aura has lead him to Politics and a desire to create a better Pakistan

For which we all hope he succeeds in.

3. 'He was like a lizard catching flies'- Eknath Solkar (India)

This iconic photo more than anything tells the tale of Eknath Solkar. A man that whether with bat or ball in hand was always India's crisis man. Though his rescue deeds with both, that are revered in the eyes of Older Indian's are often gleamed over by his genius in the field in close. At the position, known at the time because of the absence of helmets and adequate protection. As 'suicide point'

This catch, that got ride of one of the games greatest fighters with the bat in England's Alan Knott was truly remarkable. Paving the way for a memorable Indian win, and with it the number 1 ranking in Tests

India's great side at the time was due to it genius spinners, but Solkar was the man who made the great spinners into immortals with his support in the field for them

4. Respect And Awe- Javed Miandad (Pakistan)

My upbringing was very tough, and being Irish, we were always taught, that when we were condronted with a challenge or a conflict. Rather than back down and take a step back, instead step forward and eye ball it.

That was Javed Miandad to me. That tough, relentless, uncompromising type, that would have to be taken out feet first before he would back down

We saw this in Perth in 1980, when Dennis Lillee decided it was ok to kick Javed. Javed made Lillee cowar with his reaction, and made it known to this iconic Aussie, who made his legend through a great dose of intimidation.

That Javed was the last man you would try to intimidate..........

Aside from his mental prowess, his skill was majestic. In any form of the game, against any opposition and any situation. Miandad was a master.

Taking this a step further, in a crisis, there were few better than Javed. Such was his expertise to assess the situation, and duly what was need. Then he would achieve it, showing that under pressure, it was like he had ice in his veins. As this Sharjah effort shows:


The World Cup win was commandeered by Javed's presence in the Team. Making crucial contributions when needed and calming the Team when the pressure was at it's most intense.

In my mind, Imran Khan was the man who took the credit for the leadership during that win, and duly so for his ability to inspire men. Though Javed was the tactical genius, that created Imran's Captaincy legend

5. India's Anything Man- Kapil Dev (India)

The 1983 victory for India was indeed a Team effort, but it would have been still born if not for Kapil Dev's all round brilliance

The innings he played against Zimbabwe, when India was 5/17 and almost assured of elimination was one of the best innings seen in any form of cricket. A 175 run epic that started with a simmer, then erupted to full boil with some of the sincerest carnage seen on a cricket field. Some of his 6's were truly huge.

Then as the Cup progressed, his bowling was crucial. Getting 12 wickets with an average of 20.41, while maintaining a economy rate of 2.96 and a strike rate of 42

A catch sealed his legend in the Final. One that caught the games most dangerous player in Viv Richards, a man who was threatening to win the Cup for the Windies by himself. When Viv tried to hit a front foot pull out of the ground, only to sky it into no mans land about 20 feet from the boundary at deep mid wicket. All you could see was Kapil run back from his position at mid wicket, and then reach out at full stretch to catch the ball.

Dismissing Richards, and having the catch labelled 'the catch of the century'

Away from his Odi genius, Dev was one of the finest ever all rounders to grace the Test arena. A brilliant swing bowler with such skill and stamina. Then one of the biggest hitters as a batsman, and with enough skill to have batted in most Teams top 6.


6. Inzamam ul Huq


What can we say about the man known as Big Inzy?


Aside from the fact that he was one of the most beloved and respected batsmen in the games history.


His legend was created as an 22 year old in the Semi Final of the 1992 World Cup. Where he walked in with Pakistan needing 123 runs from 90 balls. Then when he was run out about an hour later he had turned the game on its ear by scoring 60 off 37 balls. In what was tantamount to a miracle performance and showed the World that the 1992 World Cup win was Pakistan's destiny.


In any form of the game, Inzamam was an expert finisher.


This seen in 1994 against the Aussies in Karachi. Where Mustaq Ahmed walked to the crease as the Teams number 11 with 57 needed for victory. I listened to this on radio, and had Pakistan dead to rites against an Aussie Team, that had Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in it.


Though such was Inzy's mastery in batting with the tail, that he built the crowd into an absolute frenzy. All you could hear was the growing hysteria with every run, and chants of Allah O Achbah. That started as a murmur, but became a roar as the total got into single figures.


Fittingly to the theatre, was when the winning runs was a missed stumping off Inzy facing Warne. When Inzy tried to hit Warne for a boundary, only to miss, and the ball go through Ian Healy's gloves for 4 byes.


In every respect Inzamam ul Huq is one of the games greatest names


7. India's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde- Navjot Singh Sidhu (India)


This rather eccentric India opener was two sides to a coin


If the pacemen were on he was the ultimate stone waller.......


BUT


When a spinner came on, he would just see red as if it was a personal affront. Feeling the need to unleash his viscous side.


He truly brutalised any spinner, even the great Shane Warne received one of his most profound beatings from Sidhu


8. Sincere Beauty Combined with Supreme Genius-Abdul Qadir (Pakistan)


At the time this little leg spinner entered the World scene, he was very much a throwback to a bygone era. For in the 70's, everything was about pace, pace and in case you didn't catch on more pace. Inspired by the West Indian success with it.


Qadir changed all this and with such style.....


Everything about him was smacked with charisma from the way he's twirl the ball at the top of his run up, to his bouncy run up and memorable delivery action


Then my word could he bowl..........


He had every trick in a leg spinner bag, and his googly was one of the most devastating delivery in the modern era


9. Teaching Spelling Using An Indian Cricketer (India)


To me, Ive always been in love with spinners, and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar was my hero


Everything about him had me enamoured with him. From his sincere inspiration in recovery from having Polio as a kid that withered his right wrist to his genius and unpredictable bowling. He was just the star of star in my eyes.


His bowling was cobra like in its unpredictability. For you just didn't know what was coming next. He had such an arsenal of variety, that he delivered with no discernible difference in action. Top spinners, googlys, wrong uns or the occasional long hop- you just had to watch.


I was obsessed with him, and was teaching in Australia in the 70's and included him in the lessons.


Whether it be a bonus question in a spelling Test or a poser to a Captain of kids in a sports lesson. To decide who would bat first, I would always include Chandrasekhar as part of it


Needless too say Aussie kids struggled with it!


10. The Original 'Little Master' Hanif Mohammud (Pakistan)


The little opening batsmen with the water tight technique and the unbreakable temperament was one of the main reason for popularising cricket in Pakistan


His 16 hour, 337 run epic in the aptly named 'timeless Test' against the West Indies in Barbados in 1957/58 was truly one for the ages.


A true testimony to cricket purism with temperament and technique being worshipped throughout this innings.


Though his reputation was built after that, and often viewed as a stone walling player. Hanif could also attack with the best of them.


A great player, a great man and an icon for all


11. A Boy Named Sachin.......... (India)


Unless you are an irrational hater, you can't not be in awe of Sachin Tendulkar.


Entering the World arena as a baby faced 16 year old and dominating one the field and in our heart too.


In any form of the game he is a great, and some of his feats were truly memorable.


For me two stand out.


The first was a shot in an Odi match against Glenn McGrath, a bowler that is arguably one of the best in the games history, and at the time was at the top of his game.


McGrath bowled the ball, that was quick, perfect line and length and just outside off. Perfect deliver to a stacked off side field.


BUT


Sachin was dismissive, to the point of being disdainful and took the ball at the top of the bounce and belted it through the stacked off field with a back foot drive. 


That was true genius


The second was in Perth in 1991, where as a teenager on what was about as foreign surface and conditions an Asian player could experience. He just destroyed the 4 prong Aussie pace attack with his majestic and brutal square of the wicket play


In truth his onfield exploits have few peers, but the man he is off the field arguably is of more sincere legend


12. Best Opening Bowling Partnership Ever? (Pakistan)


This is a huge call, for the history of the game has seen many great opening pairs, but you can't deny the complete mastery in all regards of fast bowling. That Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis displayed


One a left armer in Akram and the other a righty in Waqar.


They had speed, swing, seam and a nice bit of nastiness if they so desired. Both displayed exceptional records, despite playing on pitches in their home conditions. That in no way favoured fast bowlers.


Aside from their mastery, they were sincere beauty as well
13. The Legend of 'Dada' (India)


The same aura I referred to before in talking about the immortal Imran Khan is seen in the regal Indian Sourav Ganguly.


In whatever he did on or off the cricket field he oozed of it.


As Captain of India, he instilled a real mental toughness and defiance in his men. That allowed them to use this with their precocious natural abilities to be the best in World cricket.


He had a real defiant feistyness about him that rankled oppositions. It was a real tick in Aussie ears, and can be largely viewed as the reason why they always found difficulty in beating India.


For after, Ganguly, all the Indian's were made to mirror his tough as teak image, and when confronted with attempts to intimidate. Especially from the Aussies, they just stared them down and said lets go


Even in retirement, Ganguly still has that presence, and it would make sense to at some point in time for India to include him in their set up


14. The Great Modern Day Tragedy- Saqlain Mushtaq (Pakistan)


Honestly, aside from Prasanna, I can't think of a more talented off spin bowler than Saqlain Mushtaq, and yes I include Muttiah Muralidaran in that.


He just had it all............


A beautiful action, brilliant temperament, and such a respect to the traditions of his art. Though he also integrated modern tricks into his bowling with his invention of the doosra, that devastated batsmen


Then for some reason, when he was in the peak of his powers. He was dispensed with by Pakistan...


Honestly, broke my heart, for I would pay BIG money to watch him bowl- such was his genius.


Even now at 34, id have him in the Pakistan Team


15. Mr Hyderabad Chic- VVS Laxman (India)


In truth, my current day hero in cricket is VVS Laxman.


He just is everything I worship in cricket, in regards to being a master in a crisis, so mentally tough, a sincere entertainer and a master in any conditions and against any bowlers.


Against fast bowlers of the skill and pedigree of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee. Ive seen him flay them with some of the most brilliant pulling, hooking and cutting that one could see.


Then against arguably the best spinner the World has ever seen in the immortal leg spinner Shane Warne. He just oozed genius, in the way he would be so perfect with his footwork, so as to make the almost impossible look rather mundane. When he would constantly manipulate his stance against Warne, to caress him through the leg side against the Aussies ripping spin for yet another boundary


Then how cool he looked with his red handkerchief around his neck in the brutal Indian heat.


His legacy though will be his expertise whenever there was a crisis to be overcome


16. True Insanity- Shahid Afridi (Pakistan)


In truth I cant stand Shahid Afridi, for im an old man and are excited by traditional things, and the man known as BOOM BOOM is the true antithesis of this............


He had the ability to be a star in all forms of the game, but sadly his temperament only allowed his brilliance to be seen in the shorter forms of the game.


On occasion, his star would shine in Tests, but this was the exception, rather than the rule.


This aside, he was the hero for the youth and the pin up for most of the young girls


He could hit a ball further than most, get a wicket with a brilliant ball or just do something of such insane genius on a cricket field. That made everyone stand on their feet and applaud


17. Revolutionary Man- Virender Sehwag (India)


Lol....you just have to laugh when you think of this explosive Indian opener. For he is such a contradiction on so many levels. The main one being that he is such a cavalier, risk taking batsmen, but most of his success has been seen in Test cricket. Rather than the shorter forms of the game, where his game is perfect for it.


Then despite the fact that he has virtually no technique or footwork, he is one of the most devastating batsmen in Test cricket, and has been for near on a decade.


He also revolutionised it, by attacking from ball one in Test matches, much in the manner they do in Odis. Then his success in doing so is one of the main reasons why India held the top ranking in the Test arena


In truth, some of his innings have been of a level of carnage that is hard to compare in the games history


18. The Wild Thing- Shoaib Ahktar (Pakistan)


This bowler was very much a throw back to the devastatingly fearsome bowlers from the 1970's...


He had such pace, that he intimidated all batsmen, even if they were in their suits of armour


Then his skill was immense being able to swing the ball in or out at express pace. As well as cut it off the pitch both ways.


Sincere nightmare.........


Only to be stifled from achieving true greatness by his own hand. In regards to his lack of discipline in the training side of the game and the mental side.


Despite this, he is a hero of the sincerest form to most Pakistani's
19. Mr Irreplaceable Rahul Dravid (India)


The man affectionately known as the wall in honour of his impregnable batting prowess. In technique or in the mind, it was impossible to break Dravid down


He was more than this though, for whatever India needed he was the man they turned too.


If they needed a Captain- Dravid


If they needed a keeper- Dravid


If they needed saving- Dravid


Then any other need, it was Dravid they turned too


Just showing how utterly impossible it will be when it comes to the time for India to replace him.


20. Those rubbery wrists- Saeed Anwar (Pakistan)


This Pakistani opening batsmen in any form of the game was not only a very fine player, but had such a style to his play.


The way he would manipulate balls or caress them near or far with the expert use of his wrists was such a thing to behold. His skill was so profound that he could play any shot in the book and then showed some to the World from the book of 'Anwar'


He was brilliant in Tests, but arguably one of the most devastating players in Odi cricket. As this Chennai epic shows...........
21. The Man Who Taught India They Can Be The Best- Sunil Gavaskar (India)


In the years before the entrance of Sunil Gavaskar in the Indian Team. They were characterised as a Team full of the occasional brilliant performer, that was so reliant on natural ability. Also, most were frail in the mind and downcast by their non existent standing in the game.


Sunny changed this, by the example of professionalism he showed in his preparation, his time at the crease and in truth everything he did.


Then his sheer relentless determination to not only be the best as an individual, but also as a Team. His figure might have been small, but his standing in the game was immense. A true nightmare for any type of bowlers. For his technique in a defensive and attacking sense was watertight and then his temperament was one of the best in the games history


Duly in his career, his legacy is of one of the best batsmen in the games history.


Then from an Indian point of view. He was like a father figure that fostered belief in his brethren and with this they excelled.


Ive no doubt, the standing that India has in the game now is largely due to Sunil Gavaskar


22. Fazal Mahmood- the first an maybe the best?


This bowlers skill was in truth hard to put into words.


He could do anything with a cricket ball, and his leg cutter will go down in the annals of cricketing history as one of the games most lethal balls.


A forgotten great, but one that commandeered victories in series against all the Test playing Nations in Pakistan's formulative years in the 1950's and 60's 
















Yes, ive missed many names, but in truth could think of many worthy others. In truth, I might do a second installment of this some time in the future

3 comments:

  1. Pakistan Zindabad :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. a great write TIM.. so informative .. so deliciously tasty in every regard.. reading ur post i m just thinking if the two teams are combined.. then i dont know who will beat US.. !!

    ReplyDelete