Javed Miandad © Getty Images
Pakistan has produced some excellent cricketers in the last six decades. Although it has predominantly churned out world-class bowlers, it has also given cricket a special batsman who went on to establish himself in the exclusive group of players who’ve averaged over 52 and scored over 8,000 Test runs. Javed Miandad took the cricketing world by storm since he first donned the Pakistani colours back in 1976. The kind of innings he played on his debut was replicated several times throughout his career. He was a virtual thorn in the flesh of the bowlers.
Thirty-six years ago, a New Zealand team led by Glenn Turner arrived in Pakistan. Although Pakistan was expected to trump the visitors by a comfortable margin, the Kiwis were beginning to emerge as a force, powered by newcomer by the name of Richard Hadlee. On the other hand, the Pakistani line-up boasted of names such as Zaheer Abbas, Mushtaq Mohammed, Asif Iqbal, Majid Khan, Wasim Raja and Imran Khan. If anything, Miandad’s inclusion in the side was doubtful, primarily because he was still an unknown quantity.
But a good showing in the tour game for Chief Minister’s XI, just days prior to the first Test, confirmed his slot. Batting at No 3, Miandad scored an unbeaten 138 in the second innings of that three-day tour game. In his autobiography ‘Cutting Edge’, Miandad writes: “I was very pleased with my performance in that side game and felt certain I would be selected for the first Test. There really was no room in that Pakistan middle-order and if I wanted to keep on playing Test cricket, I would have to make room for myself.”
The circumstances in which he walked in to bat during the first Test wasn’t very different either. Hadlee had reduced Pakistan to 44 for three when Miandad joined Zaheer Abbas at the crease. As has so often happened, some of the best innings come when least expected. Zaheer too was soon dismissed and the scoreboard now read 55 for four. However, Miandad remained unaffected by the circumstances and showed no signs of being under pressure. “I was a rookie and played freely, as I did not yet feel the burden of having to anchor Pakistan’s batting,” explained Miandad in his book.
Miandad went after all the bowlers without any inhibitions, right from the outset. He soon began to flourish, and runs started to flow far more freely. Later in the innings, he and Asif Iqbal looked unstoppable. During the course of the innings, Miandad started to point out technical glitches in his senior partner’s batting! It speaks volumes for Miandad’s confidence.
“Asif was an international star and some years my senior, but it did not occur to me that I was being presumptuous in telling him how to go about his game. Part of the reason for this is that I have never hesitated to point out a mistake – be it my own or someone else’s – if I felt one had been made,” Miandad reveals in his book.
At one stage Asif walked down the wicket and told Miandad, “Looks like I’m the one making Test debut and you’re the one who is playing for years!”
Miandad was eventually dismissed for 163 while Asif stood unbeaten on 128 by the end of day’s play. Pakistan’s score read an impressive 349 for seven. The partnership between Miandad and Asif was worth 281 runs. In an interesting coincidence, Miandad was dismissed by debutant off-spinner Peter Petherick, who registered a hat-trick in that game.
Miandad finished his debut series with 504 runs in his kitty at an outstanding average of 126. The public and media showered him with accolades, and one of the opinion columns stated that he was the best thing that has ever happened to Pakistan cricket.
When he bid farewell to cricket, Miandad had played 124 Tests and 233 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), amassing 8,832 and 7,381 runs respectively.
(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)