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Javed Miandad: A champion cricketer who redefined the art of war on the field of cricket

Javed Miandad: A champion cricketer who redefined the art of war on the field of cricket

Javed Miandad wrote in his autobiography: “As far as I was concerned, cricket was war and I was at war whenever I played” © Getty Images

Javed Miandad, born on June 12, 1957, was arguably the best-ever batsman from Pakistan. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the street-fighter who often squeezed all hope out of the opposition through his undiluted aggression by getting under the skin of the opposition.

Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy coliseum had turned into a cauldron during the 1996 World Cup quarter-final. As one Pakistan wicket followed another after the initial onslaught from Saeed Anwar and Aamer Sohail, the partisan crowd cheered, jeered, and swore in unison.A 39-year old, battle-scarred veteran, clad proudly in his greens, stood defiantly between India and a semi-final berth. He was eventually ninth out, sapping the last bit of life left in the Pakistanis. As the great man was run out with his side well short of victory, Bangalore stood up to boo him out of the stadium. It was his last international innings.

Ramachandra Guha describes the rest: “I stood up to applaud the veteran [Javed Miandad], leaving the cricket field for the last time. ‘What are you clapping him for?’ yelled a man behind me. ‘You should clap him too. He is a truly great player and we shall never see him again.’ The short, definitive reply: ‘Thank God I’ll never see the b*#tard again.’”

That was the kind of emotion Javed Miandad induced in you if you were a non-Pakistani. You loathed him, and he gave you every reason to. Whatever be the situation, he would play out of his skin, stand between your side and Pakistan; he would get under your skin in every possible way; he would break the rules, if required; he would take blows if it was necessary — and then give back more; if he couldn’t win you, he will psyche you into submission; he was one who sledged while batting!

Ask Dilip Doshi. Miandad would often step out against him, and then block the ball with a dead bat, and follow it with the words, “I should have hit that for a six!” Or while Doshi was fielding, he would yell loud: “Come on, there’s two! It’s only [Dilip] Doshi!” Doshi ended up taking 27 wickets at 38.67 in the 11 Tests in which he played against Miandad, and 87 wickets at 28.25 from his remaining 22 Tests.

If you think Doshi was an easy nut to crack for Miandad, consider Ian Chappell, for whom sledging was as regular an activity as brushing teeth. In Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, Tony Greig had placed Miandad almost under Chappell’s nose when Derek Underwood was bowling. Asif Iqbal recalls: “Javed [Miandad] kept up a barrage of talk in Urdu with the name ‘Ian Chappell’ figuring prominently. And although none of it was abusive, Ian, unable to understand any of it, probably thought it was. He gradually reached the end of his tether and ended up holing out to deep mid-wicket.”

It had to be a victory, by hook or by crook. He writes in his autobiography Cutting Edge– My Autobiography: “As far as I was concerned, cricket was war and I was at war whenever I played.” Losing was never an option: he mentions that the “terrible embarrassment and shame [of defeat] brought tears to my eyes and a chill down my spine.”

As Gideon Haigh wrote of him, he was “sledging, jesting, fighting, winning, and getting up people’s noses most of all”. You may swear at him, but at heart you cannot deny that he was a great batsman, warrior, and patriot. Perhaps the greatest Pakistan has ever produced.

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Javed Miandad’s stats bears eloquent testimony to his greatness © Getty Images

The achievements

To begin with, Miandad had scored 8,832 runs (the highest for Pakistan) from 124 Tests (again, the highest for Pakistan) at 52.57 (once again, the highest for Pakistan — provided you discount Taslim Arif’s 501runs at 62.62 from six Tests) with 23 hundreds. His tally of six double-hundreds is another Pakistani record. His average had never dipped below the 50-mark— a feat achieved by only the great Herbert Sutcliffe over a sustained period of time. He had scored hundreds both in his debut Test and on his 100th Test—Gordon Greenidge being the only one to have achieved the feat.

In ODIs, he had scored 7,381 runs at 41.70 with eight hundreds. Being one of the ODI giants of his era, he was the first cricketer to play six World Cups— a feat later equalled by Sachin Tendulkar. When he quit, he was the highest run-scorer in World Cups (1,083 runs from 33 ODIs at 43.32). He is also the only batsman to score fifties in nine consecutive ODI innings (from March 24, 1987 to October 8, 1987: the phase also included two hundreds), the nearest count being six (shared by four batsmen across time).

At First-Class level, Miandad, playing several seasons for Sussex and Glamorgan, among other domestic matches, not only scored 28,863 runs at 53.37 with 80 hundreds, but also picked up 191 wickets at 34.07 with six five-fors with his leg-breaks. He also took 340 catches and effectedthree stumpings— when he occasionally adorned the gloves. His success made him a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1982.
The six

Ask any Indian or Pakistani about the moment that changed India-Pakistan cricket on its head, and he will definitely nominate the six. If you use the phrase “Miandad’s six” nothing else needs to be said. One can recall as if it was yesterday. India has scored 245 for seven in the allotted 50 overs in the final of the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup: Pakistan kept on losing wickets, and things looked hopeless till Miandad added 71 for the fifth stand with Abdul Qadir.

Eventually it came down to 11 off the last over, and then, with a wicket in hand, four runs off the last ball. Chetan Sharma would bowl it to Miandad. The shrewd man had anticipated everything the Indian team management had concluded after a long discussion. He later wrote in his autobiography: “I was certain [Chetan] Sharma was going to attempt a yorker and aim for my legs. So I decided to stand well forward of the batting crease. My plan was to lean back, make room for myself and give it everything I had.”

The rest was history. The waist-high full-toss soared out of the ground. The bowler slumped to the ground. The batsmen ran out of it in ecstasy. Miandad later went on to call the six “the single most important achievement of my professional career”. He was later gifted a diamond-encrusted bracelet worth $80,000, a Mercedes, and a promotion at Habib Bank. Above everything, he won the Pakistan President’s Pride of Performance Award.

Chandrakant Pandit later said: “We all felt a sort of blackout. It was like a funeral in the dressing room afterwards. Chetan [Sharma] was on the floor. None of us knew what to do for nearly an hour. Nobody looked at anyone; we all just sat with our chins down, thinking about the possibilities. We could hear the celebrations outside but it was extremely depressing inside.”

It took India well over a decade — till the Sahara Cup of 1997 where Sourav Ganguly finally turned the tides — to recover from the shock.Till then Pakistan had dominated the duels between the two countries to a phenomenal extent. As Kamran Abbasi wrote: “Pakistan began a run of success against India that was attributed to the psychological power of that six.”

It is not a coincidence that the end of Pakistan’s dominance coincided with the end of Miandad’s career. In his autobiography Miandad names a chapter Wars with India. It meant nothing less than that to him.

Pakistan in ODIs against India: Impact of Miandad’s six
M W L NR % W/L
Before the six 16      7      8        1 0.88
From the six to Sahara Cup 1997 36    26      8        2 3.25
From Sahara Cup 1997 72    38    33        1 1.15
Total 124    71    49        4 1.45

How it all began

It all started in 1972. Karachi was playing against a local club, and their (somewhat defensive) captain was out there in the middle. With 18 required off three balls, our 14-year old hero went up to the manager and requested him to call the captain and send him to the middle.

Fortunately for Pakistan cricket, the manager decided to listen to the teenager in a logic-defying decision. The captain was asked to ‘retire out’, and the youngster won the match with three consecutive sixes!

Miandad was soon spotted by Abdul Hafeez Kardar, who called him ‘the find of the decade’. He made his Test debut against New Zealand at Lahore, and scored 163 not out; Asif and Miandad added 281, and took the score from 417 from 55 for four. He played a breezy 25 not out to seal the Test.

In the third Test of the series at Karachi, Majid Khan startled everyone by scoring a hundred before lunch on Day One. Miandad, however, played a relatively cautious innings, and in the process became the youngest player to score a double-hundred as he scored 206 at 19 years 140 days, going past George Headley’s 223 at 20 years 308 days. With 504 runs at 126.00 in the series, Miandad had arrived.
The style

Despite the abrasive attitude and furious combativeness, Miandad was as relaxed in the crease as any batsman who has ever played cricket. Seldom has a batsman laughed, chirped, sung, and whistled his way to century after century, much to the agony of bowlers and fielders over the world. Haigh wrote of him that he always “sauntered to the centre like he was already 180 not out”.

Consider his famous 271 at Eden Park in 1988-89, for example. He was so serene and effortless that it did not even seem that he was batting. Ian Smith later recalled that Miandad, during one of his comments, had told Smith: “Nice day today. Would be a lot nicer for you boys at the beach.” To John Wright, it seemed that Miandad was “sitting on a sofa in his front room” that day while batting.

On the other hand, Haigh considers him among the most aggressive batsmen he has seen: “Viv Richards merely made it look as though you weren’t good enough to bowl to him. [Javed] Miandad said it to your face.” Miandad was a vicious cutter and had a brilliant reverse-sweep in his repertoire, and played virtually all strokes in the MCC coaching manual — and a lot outside it.
Strength and weakness

Miandad’s fared differently against different opponents. He scored 2,228 runs against India (the third-highest, after Clive Lloyd and Ricky Ponting, and Miandad averages substantially more than either) from 28 Tests at 67.51 with five hundreds and 1,919 runs against New Zealand from 18 Tests at 79.95 with seven hundreds — which means that more than half his Test hundreds (23) came against these two countries.

He scored 4,351 runs from at 45.80 with six hundreds from 64 Tests overseas. If one discounts his phenomenal record in New Zealand (928 runs from 13 Tests at 77.33 with three hundreds) it comes down to 41.23. At home, however, Miandad was on a different scale altogether — scoring 4,481 runs at 61.38 with 14 hundreds.

In those days, before neutral umpires came into being, Miandad was given out leg-before only eight times out of the 86 innings (9%) in which he had batted. Contrast this to his 25 leg-before dismissals in 103 overseas innings (24%), and you will get the proper picture. His first leg-before dismissal at home came in his 50th home innings— against Sri Lanka at Sialkot in 1985-86.

West Indian exploits

Against West Indies, the strongest team of his time, Miandad had scored 834 runs from 16 Tests at 29.78 with two hundreds. These do not make great numbers – unless one remembers the fact that both these hundreds had come in arguably the greatest Test series of the 1980s, in which he was up against an attack consisting of Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Patrick Patterson, and Winston Benjamin, and was more than equal to the challenge.

After West Indies were bowled out for 292 at Bourda, Miandad took centrestage, and carved out a 235-ball 114 to provide Pakistan with a crucial 143-run lead, and guide them to a nine-wicket victory, thanks to Imran Khan’s 11 for 121. Many critics refer to this as Miandad’s greatest Test hundred.

Come Queen’s Park Oval, and West Indies had Pakistan down to their knees (after Imran took nine for 153). Miandad, having scored 18 in the first innings, now stood firm in the way of West Indies. He was seventh out for a 265-ball 102, and Pakistan managed to finish with 341 for nine chasing 372.

He failed, for once, in the last Test at Kensington Oval, and West Indies scraped home by two wickets on the fifth afternoon. Miandad finished the series with most runs — 282 at 56.40 — ahead of Viv Richards, and along with Imran, was responsible for Pakistan leaving the Caribbean shores without losing the series.

The Miandad way

There have been on-field incidents where Miandad has been involved in: some of them were hilarious, some not quite so, and some on the brink of being ugly. One thing was for sure, though: he was not someone who would sit down to an on-field tussle, verbal or otherwise.

Consider the Rodney Hogg incident at Melbourne in 1978-79, for example. Hogg had placed a ball to Miandad at point, and took the customary stroll to pat the pitch. Miandad sneaked in, removed the bails, and appealed. Umpire Mick Harvey had to rule him out. Though the Pakistan captain Mushtaq Mohammad insisted on a recall, Harvey was adamant. Hogg kicked the stumps down before departing, and Miandad taunted him off the field.

The Dennis Lillee incident was another story altogether. During the 1981-82 WACA Test Miandad attempted a run, and Lillee blocked his way to the non-striker’s end; on his way back to his mark, Lillee kicked Miandad on his knee. A furious Miandad raised his bat – as if to hit Lillee – and it was only due to the intervention of Tony Crafter and Greg Chappell that the matter subsided.

Lillee later commented “When this sort of things happens I believe in an eye for an eye.” Wisden deemed it as “one of the most undignified incidents in Test history”. Bob Simpson called it “the most disgraceful thing I have seen on a cricket field”; Keith Miller demanded that Lillee “should be suspended for the rest of the season”; and Ian Chappell commented that Lillee had behaved like ‘a spoiled, angry child’.

On the other hand, Greg Chappell came out in Lillee’s defence: “If we thought he had been responsible in the first place for what happened, we’d have had no hesitation in rubbing him out. What [Javed] Miandad did was the most disgraceful thing I have seen on a cricket pitch.”

Lillee was originally fined A$200, but it was later reduced to A$120 — though a two-match ban was dished out. He was also asked to write an apology. When asked for his reaction, Miandad commented: “Lillee was concentrating on one word – retaliation – when he apologised. Everyone can see he is guilty.” Miandad got away without any kind of reprimand.

On the 1989-90 tour of Australia, Allan Border had specifically asked Merv Hughes, the Australian ace sledger, not to have a go at Imran or Miandad (and for whatever reason, target Wasim Akram and WaqarYounis instead).

So, in the battle of sledgers, Miandad called Merv Hughes a big, fat bus driver in the Adelaide Test; Hughes dismissed him shortly afterwards — and ran past Miandad with one hand raised, shouting “tickets, please!” For once Miandad had no response.

On another occasion, Kiran More managed to irk Miandad by incessant appealing in the 1992 World Cup match at Sydney. Miandad tolerated patiently for a while, but eventually gave in, jumping in the air and yelling at the top of his voice, stunning the entire ground into silence.

Miandad and Imran

The 1980s was a significant decade in the history of Pakistan cricket. It was in this decade that Abdul Qadir rekindled the magic of long-lost leg-spin; it was in this decade that Wasim began to blossom, and Waqar made his debut; it was also this decade when Imran and Miandad— arguably the two greatest cricketers Pakistan had ever produced – were at their peaks.

The decade, however, was also marred by the clash between the two titans. On one hand the two combined, hand-in-hand, to lead Pakistan to a number of triumphs, culminating in the 1992 World Cup – the tournament that had marked the end of Imran’s illustrious career.

It was not only a contest between two champions. It was a showdown between the sophistication of Lahore and the street-smartness of Karachi; it was a difference of social classes. As Arunabha Sengupta, CricketCountry’s Chief Cricket Writer and Cricket Historian wrote: “One [Imran] oozed charisma, Oxford chiselled sophistication and a pride in his ability that often got interpreted as arrogance. The other [Miandad] was crafty, street-smart, with a crude penchant for getting under the skin of opponents. Both were icons, two of the greatest cricketers produced by Pakistan.”

Miandad did not take Imran’s overnight declaration at Hyderabad in 1982-83 lightly. He was batting on 280, and on a flat track against a group of clueless Indian bowlers, he had been eyeing Garry Sobers’ 365 not out. When Imran declared the next morning without any prior indication, Miandad was shell-shocked: “Off the field at the end of the second day, there was no talk of a declaration. Imran [Khan] never brought it up overnight and gave me no specific instructions. I took this to mean I was being given a chance to go for all possible records. How wrong I was!”

On the other hand, when Miandad had his first stint as captain, his impressive tenure ended with a players’ rebellion — of which Imran is often assumed to be the instigator. Miandad has also voiced his opinion that Imran was instrumental in removing him as Pakistan captain in 1993.

Imran’s objections were not very well-documented, and had revolved mostly around off-field incidents. “They hint at [Javed] Miandad’s scheming mind, regular face-offs with one and all, and his political games in the dressing room”, Sengupta adds.

On the field, however, Imran and Miandad gelled well, and had immense respect for each other as cricketers. When Pakistan lost a rain-affected match against South Africa in the 1992 World Cup, Imran threw his bat across the dressing-room in fury. As photo journalist Iqbal Munir tried to enter the dressing-room with the mission to acquire a photograph, he was hastily stopped by an intimidated Wasim Akram: “Where do you think you’re going? The only person who can approach Imran [Khan] right now is Javed [Miandad].”

Five years back, in the World Cup semifinal at Lahore, Miandad and Imran had added 112 runs for the fourth wicket (Miandad had scored 70 and Imran 58), but could not prevent Pakistan from crashing out of the tournament. This time, in the final of 1992, the pair had come to the forefront again: in an almost reversal of roles, Imran scored 72 and Miandad got 58, the two added 139 for the third wicket, and Pakistan won their only World Cup till date. Miandad scored six fifties in the tournament.
Captain of Pakistan

As it often happens with two champions with clashing careers and leadership qualities, neither Imran nor Miandad got to lead as many Tests as they should have. Miandad had often acted as the deputy to Imran, but the reverse was not a usual practice.

Imran, however, is generally accepted as the better leader, mostly due to his excellent man-management skills and ability to get the best out of the players; Miandad, however, came a close second, leading from the front and never stopping to give it back to the opposition. Miandad’s fans, however, think of the rating the other way. Let us dig deep into the numbers and check a bit.

Overall records of Imran and Miandad as captains
M W L NR % W/L
Imran  48  14  8  26  1.75
Miandad  34  14  6  14   2.33

Things do not look as expected, do they? The series only say that the gap is even more:

Series records of Imran and Miandad as captains
M W L NR % W/L
Imran  14  5  3  6 1.67
Miandad  11  8  3      -  2.67

It is true that numbers do not tell the entire story. What they can do is help us to challenge myths. Also, for the uninitiated, this is not a case of “Miandad took over a ready team from Imran”. Imran made his captaincy debut after Miandad had led them in as many as 13 Tests, so if anything it was the other way round.

Later years

Miandad had three stints as Pakistan’s coach, and was appointed the Director-General of PCB. He explored another side as he turned a Naat-Khua’an when he recorded a Naat for Geo TV.

Javed’s son Junaid Miandad got married to Mahrukh Ibrahim, the daughter of Dawood Ibrahim, who has been a regular feature on the Forbes’ List of Most Dreaded Criminals, seldom going out of the top five. As an outcome Miandad was denied an Indian visa during the Pakistan tour of India in 2012-13.

Legacy

Despite the presence of greats like Hanif Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas, and Inzamam, there is little doubt that Miandad was the greatest of them all. His success went on to influence generations of Pakistan batsmen. The likes of Inzamam-ul-Haq have benefitted from his presence in the dressing-room, and the later batsmen like Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan have inherited – to various extents – his never-give-up attitude and his insatiable appetite for runs.

Pakistan has, and will continue to produce raw talent of various multitudes. Most of them fade away with time. Miandad, however, had stood the test of time, and had done more than almost anyone to establish Pakistan on the map of world cricket. There have been greater batsmen – but few as proud of his abilities and his country – and to give it back to the opposition, however strong.

No, there will certainly not be another Miandad.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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