The Twenty Two Families of Pakistan Test Cricket – Part III

June 7, 2020

The phrase ‘twenty two families’ rings a familiar bell in Pakistan. In the late 60’s it was a term popularly used to identify the twenty two rich families that controlled Pakistan’s economy. Our Test cricket history, too, has a pedigree of twenty two families that have shone bright, where at least two members of the family have played Test cricket for Pakistan. In previous columns we spoke about five of these families. Today we resume our narrative from the sixth family.

The phrase ‘twenty two families’ rings a familiar bell in Pakistan. In the late 60’s it was a term popularly used to identify the twenty two rich families that controlled Pakistan’s economy. Our Test cricket history, too, has a pedigree of twenty two families that have shone bright, where at least two members of the family have played Test cricket for Pakistan. In previous columns we spoke about five of these families. Today we resume our narrative from the sixth family.

Waqar Hasan/Parvez Sajjad

Waqar Hasan played for Pakistan in its inaugural Test series against India in 1952-53. He was the highest run scorer on either side in this series with 357 runs at an average of 44.62. He played in all of Pakistan’s first 18 Test matches and figured in their first five victories.

Waqar achieved many firsts while batting for Pakistan. He became the first to score a fifty in each innings of a Test for Pakistan during the Mumbai test of 1952. He also became the first Pakistani to score two fifties in a home Test, doing so against India at Dhaka in 1955. Along with Hanif, he featured in Pakistan’s first century partnership in Tests, at Mumbai in 1952. The pair put on 165 runs for the second wicket in Pakistan’s second innings. In 1955 while playing against New Zealand at Lahore, Waqar partnered Imtiaz in a record-breaking stand of 308 for the seventh wicket. This was the first double and triple century partnerships in Pakistan’s Test history. This partnership of 308 is still the second highest seventh wicket partnership in Test cricket’s all time list.

Waqar retired from Test cricket at the age of twenty seven turning his attention to business. Along with a partner he took over National Laboratories, a food testing facility, and converted it into the large spice manufacturing company called National Foods Limited.

Waqar was also associated with the Pakistan Cricket Board for many years as a selector or chief selector. He passed away earlier this year at the age of 87, being the last survivor of Pakistan’s inaugural Test team of 1952.

Waqar’s younger brother Parvez Sajjad also played Test cricket for Pakistan. He was a slow left-arm spinner who represented Pakistan in 19 Tests from 1964 to 1973. His regularity of line and length merited the tag metronomic. He was miserly with the runs he gave away while bowling, achieving an economy rate of 2.04 runs per over in Test cricket and 2.36 in first-class cricket. In 2007, the PCB Chairman Naseem Ashraf asked him to pass on some of his skills to a few promising spinners of the time. One of his star pupils was Saeed Ajmal.

Parvez trained as a psychologist, but after retiring from cricket worked for PIA, becoming the General Manager of their Paris office.

Waqar and Parvez have 1194 Test runs, with a solitary Test century, and 59 Test wickets between them. The corresponding figures for first-class cricket are 5527 runs, including 8 centuries, and 495 wickets.

Saeed Ahmed/Younis Ahmed/Sarfaraz Nawaz

Saeed broke into the Pakistan Test team on its 1957-58 tour of the West Indies. A stylish stroke player he made an immediate impact scoring 508 runs in the series at an average of 56.40. In December 1959, he became the quickest Pakistani batsman to reach a 1000 Test runs, arriving at this milestone in 11 Tests and 20 innings. This record has stood unbeaten for over 50 years.

Saeed was known for his fiery temperament and is perhaps the only Pakistani Test cricketer to have been twice banned for life from first-class cricket, only to have the bans revoked within a few months each time. The first instance was when he clashed with the Board after being stripped of the team captaincy for the series against New Zealand in 1969, while the second occasion was on Pakistan’s tour of Australia in 1972, when he was asked to open the innings on a green Sydney wicket in the third Test. He refused and declared himself unfit for the match resulting in a life ban by the Board, which was soon rescinded.

Saeed married the renowned business and political personality Begum Salma Ahmed and pursued a career in business himself for a short period.

Around 1980, the once tempestuous Saeed abandoned cricket and his business interests and became a religious preacher by joining the ‘tableeghi jamaat’. One of his early converts was the famous Pakistani opener Saeed Anwar.

Saeed Ahmed’s younger brother Younis Ahmed also played Test cricket for Pakistan. Having made his first-class debut at the precocious age of fourteen, he left for England when he was only seventeen. A long stint in county cricket ensued. This elegant left hander made his Test debut for Pakistan in November 1969 but was dropped from the national team after only two Tests. He did not play for Pakistan again until he was recalled out of the blue to play against India in February 1987. This interval of 17 years and 111 days between Test appearances is the third longest in test cricket history.

Younis’ prolonged absence from the Pakistani team was partially attributable to his brother’s altercations with the board but a major cause was his decision to go on a cricket tour of South Africa when it was forbidden to do so during the days of apartheid. This invited a life ban from Pakistan’s cricket board and created the only instance in Test cricket when two brothers have both been banned by their ruling bodies from playing cricket for life for disciplinary infringements.

Saeed was related for a while to Pakistan’s diplomat cum cricket administrator Sheharyar Khan as they were married to two sisters Salma and Minal respectively. Saeed was also linked through marriage to Sarfaraz Nawaz whose first wife was Saeed’s sister Shagufta. Since both these liaisons were temporary they have been excluded from the computation of run tallies for this family.

Between them Saeed and Younis scored 3168 runs and five centuries in Test cricket, while their first-class numbers are 38920 runs and 80 centuries. Together they claimed 22 Test wickets and 371 first-class wickets as well.

Rana family (Shafqat Rana, Azmat Rana)

Another famous cricketing clan, the Rana family produced two brothers who played Test cricket, namely Shafqat and Azmat, while two other siblings, Shakoor and Sultan, played first-class cricket. It is Shakoor Rana’s much publicized row as an umpire, with England’s captain Mike Gatting in the Faisalabad Test in 1987, for which the family is perhaps best remembered.

Shafqat made his debut in Pakistan’s lone Test against the visiting Australians at Karachi in 1964, in which apart from him there were five other Pakistani debutants. He had to wait for over four years for his next Test appearance and his Test career was confined to just 5 matches. After his playing days were over Shafqat has had a long career as a cricket administrator. He was the Associate Manager of the team on the infamous 2010 tour of England when three members of the team were banned and later jailed for spot fixing.

Azmat Rana also had a checkered Test career. He was initially sent as a replacement for the second half of Pakistan’s tour of Australia in 1972-73, but had to wait till 1980 for his test debut and solitary Test appearance in the match against Australia at Lahore.

Interestingly, both Azmat and another brother Sultan have been assigned the same birth dates of 3rd November 1951 on all the cricket websites even though they are not twins.

A fascinating fact about the Rana family relates to an incident from the 1920s when a leading member of the family, Tawwakal Majid, saw a young boy with exceptional ability playing in the streets of Lahore. The boy came from a very poor Hindu family so Tawwakal went to the boy’s parents and offered to ‘adopt’ him and develop his cricketing career. The parents agreed and the boy was taken into the Rana household where he grew up to be an outstanding cricketer. This Hindu boy who grew up in a Muslim family was the legendary Lala Amarnath, the famous Indian all rounder.

Shafqat and Azmat scored 270 Test runs between them but no centuries, while their combined first-class tally was 10,948 runs and 25 centuries.

Next week we will bring you further interesting details about some more families from Pakistan’s cricket dynasties.

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

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The Twenty Two Families of Pakistan Test Cricket – Part III