Welcome to the latest installment in my series of ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed posts. Today, in keeping with our Monday tradition we look at an international set up. Today the focus is on Pakistan.
PAKISTAN IN MY TIME
- Azhar Ali – right handed opening batter. He has played 79 test matches and averages just under 43 at that level. He has also been a successful overseas player for Somerset. Pakistan have not been that well endowed with opening batters down the years, since most batters in that part of the world prefer to delay their entry until the shine has gone from the ball. The achievements of those who do open the batting are therefore all the more impressive because so few do so.
- Saeed Anwar – left handed opening batter. A test average of 45 per innings. His left handedness augurs well for my chosen opening pair.
- Babar Azam – right handed batter. This man averages 45 in test cricket and over 50 in both forms of limited overs internationals, an all format success rate that puts him firmly among contemporary greats not just of Pakistan but of world cricket.
- Javed Miandad – right handed batter. 8832 test runs at an average of over 50 (indeed he spent his entire test career with an average of over 50, a remarkable record of consistent success).
- Misbah-ul-Haq – right handed batter. His arrival as a test cricketer came late in his career, but he made up for lost time to emerge with a batting average of 46 at that level, and an excellent record as captain.
- *Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. Even if his record as a player did not automatically command a place there could be only one choice as captain of an all-time Pakistan team. As it is he stands as one of the greatest of all all rounders, and beyond a doubt the finest that his country has ever produced. He is now of course demonstrating his leadership skills in the political sphere, running his entire country rather than merely the cricket team thereof.
- +Zulqarnain Haider – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A one cap wonder, he made 88 on his only test appearance and kept well. He subsequently fled to Britain, believing his life in danger from match fixers and that the Pakistan authorities were not doing enough to protect him. Pakistan have had many wicket keepers, but most of those who might be considered have question marks hanging over them.
- Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. He was discovered by Imran who saw him bowling in the nets as a teenager and had him fast tracked into the national side. He went on to establish a record that places him firmly among the all time greats of the game.
- Saqlain Mushtaq – off spinner. A pioneer of the ‘doosra’, an off spinner’s equivalent of the googly that has always been controversial because of the arm angle required to produce it (there is a newer version called the ‘carrom ball’ which is less controversial). His record both for his country and for Surrey as an overseas player speaks for itself.
- Mushtaq Ahmed – leg spinner. He was one of two candidates for this position, Abdul Qadir being the other. However, for all Qadir’s merit in keeping alive the art of wrist spin at a time when fast bowlers ruled the world cricket roost, Mushtaq has the finer overall record. As well as his triumphs for Pakistan he was part of the first Sussex side ever to win a County Championship, having previously played for Somerset. He has gone to a coaching career which included a role in the England set up.
- Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. At one time he was probably the quickest on the planet, and his yorker was a devastating weapon for a number of years. Also, he bowled particularly effectively in tandem with Wasim Akram.
This team has a solid top five, one of the greatest ever all rounders and captains at no six, a keeper who can bat, and an awesome quartet of bowlers. The bowling, with a left arm speedster, two right arm speedsters, a leg spinner and an off spinner has both depth and variety. With Imran to captain them this would be a very tough unit to do battle against.
THE NEW NAMES FOR THE ALL TIME XI
- Hanif Mohammad – right handed opening bat. He held the records for the highest first class score (499 for Karachi vs Bahawalpur) and the longest ever first class innings (337 in 970 minutes v West Indies, in a match saving second innings score of 657-8). Both have subsequently been broken, although his 970 minutes remains a test record for a single innings. He and the left handed, much more attack minded Saeed Anwar would make a formidable opening combination.
- Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. The only Asian batter to have scored 100 first class hundreds, a record that includes eight instances of twin centuries in a first class match (itself a record, which includes another record of four such instances including a double century). Although best known for his tall scoring in long form cricket he was also one of the best early ODI batters, being the first ever to hit three successive tons in that format.
- Mushtaq Mohammad – right handed batter, leg spinner. He av eraged 39 with the bat and 29 with the ball, including twice combining centuries with five wikcket innings hauls.
- +Wasim Bari – the finest keeper ever to play for Pakistan, his career ended just before I started following the game in earnest, but his record speaks for itself.
- Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium. An expert bowler of the leg cutter, he took as test wickets at 24 each and his first class wickets at 18.96. He took 12 wickets in the first test match that his country won, against England at The Oval. His presence adds craft and variety to the bowling attack.
Thus, our Pakistan All-Time XI reads in batting order: Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Mushtaq Mohammad, *Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, +Wasim Bari, Saqlain Mushtaq, Fazal Mahmood and Waqar Younis. This team contains a very strong top four, three all rounders, a keeper and three varied bowlers. Waqar, Wasim, Imran, Fazal, Saqlain and Mushtaq Mohammad is a superb all round bowling unit.
THOSE WHO MISSED OUT
I have mentioned in passing Abdul Qadir, who I believe deserves full credit for keeping wrist spin bowling alive. Shoaib Akhtar, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ might have had a fast bowling spot, but his record does not compare with Waqar Younis, and I am a little sceptical about his ‘first record 100mph delivery’, since a) there was something of an obsession during that world cup with the mark being reached, b)the delivery in question did not actually cause many problems and c)Jeff Thomson, Frank Tyson and even Charles Kortright of old may well have bowled deliveries that travelled at over 100mph but were not recorded as doing so, there being no recording equipment available at the time. If Shaheen Shah Afridi continues as he has started his left arm pave bowling will merit serious consideration, but it is Waqar’s place that would in danger – he is very much a pure bowler, and so could not be selected in place of Wasim. Sarfraz Nawaz, a fast medium not altogether dissimilar to Fazal produced one outstanding spell, 7-1 in 33 balls v Australia as 305-3 became 310 all out, but his record overall is not a match for Fazal’s. Shahid Afridi, a big hitting batter and leg spin bowler, was among the most watchable of all cricketers but his record does not have the substance to match the style. There are three batters with outstanding records who I have ignored for reasons other than their cricketing ability. Inzamam-ul-Haq was considered for the place that I awarded to Misbah, and I fully accept that he has a valid claim. Imtiaz Ahmed and Taslim Arif were both heavy scoring keepers. Asif Iqbal, a middle order batter and sometimes useful slow-medium bowler would also have his advocates. It is also a matter of regret to me that I could find no way of equipping this unit with a front line left arm spin option, and I am open to genuine suggestions about this. Finally, Asif Mujtaba and Ijaz Ahmed both had good records, but I could not see them ahead of those I actually picked. I also remind people that no two people’s selections would ever be in complete agreement in an exercise of this nature, although I would expect the choice of Imran as skipper to be pretty much unanimous.
LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Our journey through Pakistan cricket is at and end, but before my usual sign off I have a couple of links to share, both from Tax Research UK:
- The Way To Tackle The ‘How Are You Going To Repay The Borrowing?’ Question
- We Do Not Need A One Off Wealth Tax To Pay Off The National Debt
And now for those pictures…