Cricketing Dynasties: The twenty two families of Pakistan Test cricket — Part 1

May 24, 2020

In the first 89 Tests that Pakistan played there was always a member of the Mohammad family in the team

In its short cricketing life of almost 70 years as a test playing nation Pakistan has produced a surprisingly large number of Test cricketing families. Some families like the Mohammad brothers or the extended family of Imran Khan are well known to the public but many stay clothed in obscurity.

If we confine ourselves purely to those families in which at least two members of the family have played Test Cricket the number is twenty two. Their story will take us on a short trip through the history of Pakistan cricket and will be detailed in a series of weekly articles over the forthcoming weeks. This week we take up two of the most famous of these families.

The Mohammad Family (Hanif Mohammad, Wazir Mohammad, Mushtaq Mohammad, Sadiq Mohammad, Shoaib Mohammad)

Four out of the five Mohammad brothers played Test cricket for Pakistan. The fifth Raees Mohammad came close as he was the 12th man in the first Test at Dhaka of the Pakistan versus India series of 1954-55.

At least two of the Mohammad brothers played together in a Test on 64 occasions. Hanif and Wazir played together in 18 Tests, Hanif and Mushtaq in 19 Tests, Wazir and Mushtaq in one Test and Mushtaq and Sadiq in 26. In one of these 64 Tests three brothers, namely Hanif, Mushtaq and Sadiq played together. This was against New Zealand at Karachi in October 1969. In doing so they emulated two other sets of brothers who achieved a similar feat.

The Grace brothers, William or WG, Edward and Frederick, played together in the first ever Test in England against Australia at the Oval in 1880.

The Hearne brothers Alec and George played for England against South Africa at Cape Town in 1892. In the same match a third brother, Frank, represented South Africa, thus creating a unique situation, when in the same Test match, different brothers played against each other for two opposing teams. The Test against New Zealand in 1969 when Hanif, Mushtaq and Sadiq played together has both sweet and sad memories for the family. It was Sadiq’s debut but also the last time that Hanif would represent Pakistan. He was persuaded by the then Chairman of selectors AH Kardar to retire at the end of that match.

In the first 89 Tests that Pakistan played there was always a member of the Mohammad family in the team. This spanned a period of 25 years and 84 days from 16th October 1952 when Pakistan played its inaugural Test against India at Delhi to the end of the Pakistan versus England Test played at Hyderabad from 2nd-7th January 1978. In fact at least one Mohammad brother played for Pakistan in 100 of its first 101 Tests. These are remarkable spans, without parallel, in the history of Test cricket.

Hanif’s son Shoaib also played Test cricket for Pakistan. Together these five Test playing members of the Mohammad family have played 218 Tests between them, scoring a total of 13643 Test runs and 36 Test centuries. They have also scored 89,922 runs and 226 centuries between them in first-class cricket. Both these first-class tallies are unmatched numbers for a Test playing family group.

This group of five has many other notable records to their name. Three out of the five, Hanif , Mushtaq and Shoaib, hit double centuries for Pakistan and Hanif also has a triple century to his credit. He was the first player to score a triple century in a team’s second innings, it is the slowest triple century on record having taken 858 minutes to reach the milestone and Hanif was at the crease for 970 minutes in all, making it the longest innings in Test history. Hanif also held the record for the highest first-class innings of 499 for more than 35 years until Brian Lara overtook it with 501 not out in 1994. Hanif also kept wickets in his initial days and became the youngest wicketkeeper to play test cricket when he made his Test debut in 1952 at the age of 17 years and 300 days.

Mushtaq enjoys the records of being the second youngest first-class cricketer in history when he made his first-class debut at the age of 13 years and 41 days, the youngest Test cricketer at the time when he made his test debut against the West Indies in 1959 and the youngest Test centurion when he scored 101 against India at Delhi in 1961. Mushtaq is also the only player to score a century, a fifty and take five wickets in an innings in the same Test match. He did this against the West Indies at Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1977.

The Khan/ Burki/Niazi Family (Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Javed Burki, Bazid Khan, Dr. Jehangir Khan, Baqa Jilani)

Another famous Pakistani family of great pedigree is represented by Imran Khan’s clan. Imran, Majid and Javed Burki are first cousins and the sons of three sisters. Interestingly all three cousins captained Pakistan as well. Two of them Imran and Burki played for Oxford University while Majid played for Cambridge University. Life between the cousins has not always been seamless. In Imran’s first series as captain, against England in 1982, he dropped an out of form Majid, which reportedly led to some unhappiness between the two cousins.

Imran, Majid and Burki played for Pakistan while Dr. Jehangir Khan and Baqa Jilani played for India. Jehangir Khan was an all round sportsman. He was also the leading javelin thrower of India in his youth and represented India in this event in the British Empire Games (the predecessor of the Commonwealth Games) held in London in 1934.

Majid’s father Dr. Jehangir Khan first represented India, in its inaugural Test series versus England in 1932. He also played for Cambridge University and during a match between the University and the MCC at Lords a ball bowled by him hit an airborne sparrow and killed it. The sparrow was subsequently stuffed and mounted on the match ball and is exhibited in the MCC museum at Lords.

Dr. Jehangir Khan’s brother in law Baqa Jilani also played a solitary test for India in 1936. He was a severe hypertensive who died young, before turning 30, from a cerebrovascular event.

Majid’s son Bazid has also represented Pakistan in Test cricket, making his immediate family the only one after the Headleys of West Indies/England in which grandfather, father and son were all Test cricketers. In the case of both families the son and the father played for one country while the grandfather played for another.

Mohammad brothers: (from left) Mushtaq, Hanif and Sadiq

Imran’s exploits both on the cricket field and off it are well known. He is the only Test cricketer to become a Prime Minister or head of government though it is rumoured that the famous England cricketer and sportsman/politician CB Fry was once offered the throne of Albania.

Arguably the greatest all rounder of his time, Imran’s individual performances as a captain are unmatched. In the 48 Tests that he captained Pakistan he took 187 wickets at an average of 20.26 which is the highest number of wickets ever taken by a Test captain. During this time he also scored 2408 runs at an average of 52.34. These statistics of all round performance as a Test captain are unparalleled.

Imran is also the only captain in Test history to have declared his team’s innings when he himself was within a few runs of a century. This happened in the Test against Sri Lanka at Sialkot in 1991 when he was batting on 93 not out and declared the Pakistan innings closed at 423 for 5 wickets.

These six Test players of this clan, between them, have 9166 Test runs, 17 centuries and 393 wickets. Their cumulative first-class figures are 66538 runs, 145 centuries and 1961 wickets.

Next week, we will continue this saga of Pakistani cricketing dynasties with more interesting facts from our Test cricket history.

Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books

Cricketing Dynasties: The twenty two families of Pakistan Test cricket — Part 1