Sports

Straight from the captain’s mouth

Written by Omair Alavi

The best way to know about Pakistan cricket’s history is through the leaders who served it with distinction

Seventy years back, the Pakistan cricket team played its first Test match ever and since then the country has become one of the leading nations in the sport.

It has not just produced some world-class cricketers but also record-breaking players who either went on to carve a separate identity for themselves or changed the way the game is played today.

Let’s take a trip down the memory lane with four such Test Cricketers who came, saw and conquered both the game and the hearts of their readers by coming up with their memoirs after retirement. Go through them all to know how they raised the bar with their zeal, determination, and dedication.

Hanif Mohammed – Playing for Pakistan

Written with renowned journalists Qamar Ahmed and Afia Salam, Hanif Mohammed’s autobiography truly represents the rise of cricket in Pakistan.

He was the first real superstar of Pakistan cricket and describes the struggle he had to face in this book, before becoming a Test cricketer and after becoming a Test captain.

He credits his mother as the most inspiring person in his life and describes the ordeal of migrating to Pakistan (from India), the advantage of playing the sport in a household that produced four Test cricketers as well as his career after retirement.

Hanif Mohammed’s record may have been surpassed by many but at one time he was regarded among the best in the world.

He was instrumental in Pakistan’s ascent since he was one of the two batters who opened the innings, participated in the first Test as a wicketkeeper and was part of the first victories against the leading Test nations of that time.

His views on those days are gold and if compared to today’s cricket, it would tell the youngsters how difficult it had been in the initial days of Pakistan cricket to thrive against the world’s best.

What led to his retirement is another story that his fans would love to read about because Hanif didn’t retire but was made to, otherwise his other brothers might have faced the consequences of his decision.

Fazal Mahmood – From Dusk to Dawn

Amongst all the autobiographies penned by cricketers, Fazal Mahmood’s book — written in collaboration with sports journalist Asif Sohail — stands out for obvious reasons.

He was Pakistan’s first bowling star who inspired everyone who came after him including Imran Khan.

His presence in the final eleven during every win Pakistan achieved in the initial years makes him the perfect eyewitness, considering he was instrumental in those triumphs as well.

From destroying England at home in 1954 to getting a monogram stitched on the blazer of the US President’s visit to the stadium, Fazal Mahmood had seen it all and he discusses everything in his book.

What went through his mind when he was playing the sport and how he felt about it in his final years make this book a must-have for all cricket lovers.

He discusses every incident that took place during his career as if it happened recently. The attention to detail, the description of the situation in which the incident took place, everything is perfect within these pages.

Javed Miandad – Cutting Edge

When the autobiography of a great player isn’t as per his stature as a sportsman, then the readers end up as the most disappointing lot.

Written in collaboration with Saad Shafqat, Javed Miandad’s autobiography is good for those who want to read about the greatest batter Pakistan has produced but will be disappointing for those who wanted to read more about his views on certain things.

For a cricketer who helped Pakistan to countless victories and has been involved in controversies around the world, this book talks only about his achievements, not his controversies.

Yes, there is a chapter about controversies but he missed out on a few incidents like the spat with Dennis Lillee.

The legendary Australian pacer dedicated a full chapter to it in his book about what happened between the two but Miandad mentioned it as just another incident.

That doesn’t mean that the book misses out on important stuff; the master blaster’s comments on his relationship with Imran Khan, battles against India, and his difficult retirement are addressed well in these pages.

Mushtaq Mohammed – Inside Out

When Mushtaq Mohammed collaborated with famed sports journalist Richard Sydenham in 2006, the result was an explosive autobiography that spoke about the golden era of Pakistan cricket.

In this book, Mushtaq Mohammed explains that since he was Hanif Mohammed’s younger brother and also the youngest Test Cricketer in the world, he was treated at first as a kid in the dressing room.

But as his career progressed and he gained both country and country experiences, he was respected all over the world.

Like his brother’s autobiography, he talked about the earlier days, the mid-60s when Pakistan was going through a captaincy crisis, and the 1970s when under his guidance Pakistan defeated teams like India, New Zealand, Australia and gave a tough time to the mighty West Indies.

He also explains how his career was cut short by the management and how he felt when that happened.

However, his subsequent return as a coach which saw Pakistan win many matches including reaching the final of the 1999 World Cup remains his most cherished post-retirement moment.

The excellent narration compensates for the loss of coloured photographs in this book while Mushtaq’s journey keeps the readers interested till the last page.

Omair Alavi – BOL News

About the author

Omair Alavi