Ambidextrous Test XI

Written by Omair Alavi

A Pakistan team consisting of players who could either bat left-handed and bowl with their right arm, or bat right-handed and bowl with their left arm

Cricket is a funny game in many ways – it has some of the most hideously-named field placings (silly mid-off, silly mid-on, and gully) and some of the most laughable ways of getting dismissed (Leg Before Wicket, Handling the Ball, Obstructing the Field and Hit Wicket).

In this new series in The News on Sunday, we will talk about the other ‘fun’ side of the game, meaning those Pakistani players who add value to the game by being different. In the first episode of The News on Sunday Lists, we will talk about Pakistan’s ‘Ambidextrous Test XI’.

For us, ambidextrous cricketers are not the ones who can bowl with both hands (ruling Hanif Mohammad out who did bowl with his left hand once in a Test match), score runs with both hands (ruling Switch-Hit batters out) or throw the ball with both arms, but those who were skilled in their own ‘weird’ way.

They could either bat left-handed and bowl with their right arm, or bat right-handed and bowl with their left arm. Since there are a lot of players who might feature in the list, we would like to include only prominent cricketers to represent Pakistan in Test Cricket.

Don’t be surprised if you find out that your favorite leftie is half-righty, or your favorite righty has something left about him. Read on:

Those who could bat left-handed, and bowl slow with their right arm

Why have I included this category on top? Well because it comprises mostly top-order batsmen. Choose the best top three from amongst the best produced by Pakistan including Sadiq Mohammad, Sami Aslam, Imran Farhat, and Taufeeq Umer. Taufeeq Umer has the biggest advantage here since he can keep wickets and since every team needs a wicket-keeper, he gets selected automatically. Salman Butt wasn’t selected because of ‘obvious’ reasons whereas Azmat Rana and Shadab Kabir didn’t play that long for their country to be considered for the list. Yes, there is Asim Kamal here who would feature in any team for a five-day match, if the selectors chose teams on merit. He will obviously bat down the order and strengthen the side, and might not be required to bowl, like others in this category because others in the list wouldn’t let them, in a good way.

Near Misses: Azmat Rana, Shadab Kabir, Salman Butt

Those who could bat left-handed, and bowl fast or medium with their right arm

Pakistan cricket team’s current opening batsman Shan Masood is also a useful medium-pacer, and that’s why he is in the team. He can also bat in the middle-order and score runs, and that’s why he has been preferred over Umar Amin who will always remain a future Pakistan captain, without proving himself. Fast bowler Mohammad Asif would have been a Pakistan regular had he not listened to his captain Salman Butt ten years back. That’s why we have given him the benefit of doubt and included him as the spearhead who can take wickets, and might not be required to bat at all, due to what’s next to come or has already appearaed.

Near Misses: Umar Amin

Those who could bat right-handed, and bowl slow with their left-arm

No one else comes close to Inzamam ul Haq when it comes to ‘Right Bat, Left Bowl’ players. At the start of his career, he used to bowl but then left bowling to concentrate on his batting (there were other reasons too). He could easily bat in the side at number four or five and steer it to victory like he did in the old days. The other person from this group would be Zulfiqar Babar who was far superior when it comes to spin bowling than those who couldn’t make it to the side.

Near Misses: Farrukh Zaman, Nadeem Ghauri, Nadeem Khan, Pervez Sajjad, Shujauddin Butt

Those who could bat right-handed, and bowl fast or medium with their left arm

His batting stance was different, he also got dismissed in unusual manners and used to appreciate the bowler after getting dismissed, but Ijaz Ahmed had the best Test record while batting against Australia. He was part of the last ever victory against the Aussies – scoring a century in 1995, and although he didn’t bowl much in Tests, his captains used him intelligently. Express pacers Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz join Ijaz Ahmed from the ‘Right Bat, Left Bowl’ club and with their presence, you don’t need Saleem Jaffer, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan or even Usman Shinwari. Since Kabir Khan had a great time coaching Afghanistan, he escaped the near misses and made it as a Playing Coach of this side; after all he would have had a longer inning for Pakistan had he debuted after Wasim Akram’s retirement, instead of during his career.

Near Misses: Mufasir ul Haq, Liaquat Ali, Saleem Jaffer, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Usman Shinwari

The All-Rounder

Before there was Shahid Afridi, there was Wasim Raja who was considered one of the best all-rounders in the world but had to fight for his place in the Pakistan side due to the presence of stiff competition from other all-rounders. He could blast the West Indian pacers to all parts of the ground with his left hand (he was a left-handed batsman, you see) and was a competitive leg-break bowler who could bamboozle the opposition with his intelligent variations. He would be in the side as the sole all-rounder, probably because he was far ahead of those who came after him, and could bat lefty, and bowl righty.

Near Miss: Faheem Ashraf

Pakistan’s Ambidextrous Test XI:

Shan Masood, Imran Farhat, Sadiq Mohammad, Sami Aslam, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam ul Haq (Captain), Asim Kamal, Taufeeq Umer (Wicket-Keeper), Wasim Raja, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Asif, Zulfiqar Babar, and Kabir Khan.

Next Week: The Ambidextrous Limited Overs XI

About the author

Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi is a highly regarded journalist, critic, and commentator, specializing in news, sports, showbiz, film, blogs, articles, drama, reviews, and PTV drama. With extensive experience and a keen eye for storytelling, he captivates audiences with his insightful analysis and compelling presentations. His expertise and contributions have made him a prominent figure in the media and entertainment industry.