This week we continue our journey through the twenty two Test-playing families of Pakistan in which at least two family members have played in the longest format of the game.
(Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Adnan Akmal, Abdul Qadir, Mohammad Ilyas, Babar Azam)
This is another extended family of Pakistan cricket. It is also a family that has skirted with controversies. Kamran was the first of his siblings to represent Pakistan and is a gifted wicketkeeper-batsman who could probably hold a Test place through his batting alone. All three brothers have also kept wickets for Pakistan; Kamran and Adnan in both Tests and ODI’s while Umar has taken up this role in ODIs only.
Abdul Qadir is related to the family by virtue of being Umar Akmal’s father-in-law while Mohammad Ilyas is Kamran Akmal’s father-in-law. This, too, is a record of sorts, where two Test-playing brothers have father-in-laws who are also Test cricketers. Babar Azam is a first cousin of the three Akmal brothers.
Kamran Akmal is statistically the most successful Pakistani wicket-keeper in first-class cricket with 925 dismissals (860 catches and 65 stumpings). Between him and his brother Adnan they have 1321 dismissals (1238 catches and 83 stumpings). Their cumulative Test dismissals are 277 (245 catches and 32 stumpings).
Babar Azam is the most exciting batsman in Pakistan cricket today. He reached 1000 ODI runs in his 21st innings which was the joint quickest in the world at the time. He is also the only batsman who has scored five consecutive ODI centuries in the same country. In Babar’s case the country concerned is the UAE.
As batsmen, the six have so far accumulated 7756 Test runs with 13 centuries. Their Test wicket aggregate is 236, all the wickets being taken by Abdul Qadir. In first-class cricket their numbers are 36936 runs, 76 centuries and 1023 wickets of which Qadir has the lion’s share of 960.
(Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Zulfiqar Ahmed)
Hafeez Kardar was Pakistan’s first Test captain and an iconic figure in the history of the country’s cricket. Through sheer tenacity and will he led a fledgling Pakistani side to a Test victory in the first series that they played against every cricketing country during his tenure. Pakistan won a Test in its initial series against India in 1952, against England in 1954, New Zealand in 1955, Australia in 1956 and against the West Indies in 1958. Kardar had studied at Oxford University and played county cricket for Warwickshire. He had also represented India in three Test matches during India’s tour of England in 1946. Kardar is one of fifteen international cricketers, and one of three Pakistanis, to represent more than one country in Test cricket.
After retiring from cricket Kardar became involved with cricket administration and Pakistani politics. He held ministerial appointments in the Punjab government and was appointed as Pakistan’s ambassador to Switzerland.
As the head honcho of Pakistan cricket he was the first to actively pursue a shift in the balance of power in the ICC to favour Asian nations. He pioneered Sri Lanka’s case for acquiring Test status and was the first cricket administrator to press for neutral umpires. He is also the author of eleven books.
Kardar was related to the off spinner Zulfiqar Ahmed through marriage. His wife Shahzadi was Zulfiqar’s sister. Interestingly the marriage took place in the short interval between the two unofficial ‘Tests’ between Pakistan and the visiting MCC team in November 1951. The wedding was attended by the members of the MCC team who travelled in tongas from Faletti’s hotel in Lahore to Zulfiqar’s ancestral village just outside the city.
Zulfiqar was Pakistan’s first major spin bowler. A talented off spinner, he has been credited by some as being the original exponent of the ‘doosra’. He also featured as a more than handy batsman at critical junctures of Pakistan Test cricket’s formative years. In the 4th Test against India at Madras in 1952 he added 104 runs for the last wicket with Amir Elahi in just 85 minutes. This stood as a Pakistan last wicket partnership record for almost 45 years.
During the famous victory in the Oval Test of 1954, Pakistan, with a lead of just three runs in first innings, were tottering at 82 for 8 in their second innings when Zulfiqar joined Wazir for a crucial 58 runs ninth wicket partnership that enabled Pakistan to post a score of 164 and achieve a historical victory by 24 runs when England were dismissed for 143 in their second innings.
Ironically Zulfiqar was dropped from the Pakistani team by his own brother-in-law, Kardar. He was omitted from the national side to tour the West Indies in 1957-58 being replaced by the spinner Haseeb Ahsan. Zulfiqar did not play Test cricket for Pakistan again.
(Nazar Mohammad, Mudassar Nazar, Mohammad Ilyas)
This is another famous father-and-son duo of Pakistan Test cricket. Nazar opened for Pakistan in their inaugural Test series versus India in 1952. He was the first Pakistani batsman to face a ball in Test cricket. He also became Pakistan’s first Test centurion when he batted through the Pakistan’s first innings for an unbeaten 124 in the second Test against India at Lucknow in 1952. His innings helped Pakistan to their first Test win in only their second ever Test match. In this test, which was of four days duration, Nazar became the first Test cricketer to stay on the ground during the entire course of a Test match.
The next time a Pakistani batsman would carry his bat through an entire completed Test innings was over thirty years later in 1983. The venue was Lahore and the opponents were again India. The batsman who performed his feat was none other than Nazar’s own son Mudassar Nazar who remained unbeaten on 152 not out. The Nazars are the only father-son pair ever to have carried their bats through a completed Test innings.
Nazar’s career was cut short by an accident when he is said to have hurriedly jumped out of the window of a famous friend’s house, sustaining multiple fractures of his forearm in the process. This injury brought his cricket career to a premature end.
Mudassar holds the record for the slowest Test century ever. His century against England in 1977 at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore took 557 minutes. In 1983 in the third Test of the series at Hyderabad, Pakistan, Mudassar and Miandad added 451 runs for the third wicket. This was a world record third wicket partnership for the time and the record stood for 18 long years. Mudassar still holds the record for the highest aggregate in a Test series by a Pakistani batsman. He scored 761 runs against India in 1982-83.
Mudassar and Mohsin Khan have been the most prolific opening pair in Pakistan Test history with a partnership aggregate of 2057 runs at an average of 39.56. Mudassar was also the first batsman to be dismissed for 199 in a Test innings. This happened against India in Faisalabad in 1984.
Mudassar had problems picking up yorkers on grounds with small sight screens. It was only in the 1980’s that he discovered that this was due to a form of color blindness that makes it difficult to distinguish between red and green. The problem was particularly relevant when he played in grounds with small sight screens like Sharjah and especially against tall bowlers like Ambrose. Mudassar has said that he would lose the ball after it was released and pick it up only when it pitched. It is a testament to his skill that he still achieved such a high level of excellence despite this big disability.
Interestingly, Mudassar says AH Kardar noticed this problem when he saw Mudassar playing at the age of 16 and said that “Nazar’s son doesn’t pick the ball early enough”.
Mohammad Ilyas, who is related to the Akmal family, makes his second appearance as a Test family’s relative. Nazar Mohammad was an uncle of Mohammad Ilyas. The name of Ilyas will surface yet again with another family later in the series, making him unique by being the only test cricketer related to three other Test-playing families.
The three Test cricketers of the extended Nazar clan have scored 4832 Test runs with 12 centuries between them. In first-class cricket the figures are 21426 runs and 62 centuries.
We have now covered five of our twenty two Test families. Next week we will resume this account with more interesting information about this outstanding group that has played such an important role in shaping our Test cricketing history.
Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.