Mushtaq Mohammad    Getty Images
Mushtaq Mohammad Getty Images

Born November 22, 1943, Mushtaq Mohammad is a former Pakistan captain who batted in the top-order and bowled handy leg spin. One of the five Mohammad brothers, Mushtaq s international career spanned three decades. His claim to fame was when he became the youngest Test centurion in history. He later chose county over country and played for Northamptonshire, but returned in time to play for Pakistan again. Post-retirement, he served as the coach of the Pakistan side that reached the final of the 1999 World Cup. On his birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar takes a look at 19 interesting facts from the life of the Junagadh-born player.

1. Born in Junagadh

Mushtaq was born in the Indian princely state of Junagadh in Gujarat in 1943. When British India was partitioned in 1947, the Mohammads migrated to Pakistan and settled down in Karachi.

2. Confused identity

After migrating to Pakistan, Mushtaq was initially raised in the premises of a Hindu temple, which was a shelter for migrants. He studied in a Christian School and was a Muslim. This kind of made him wonder at times who and what was he?

3. Sporting Family

Mushtaq was the fourth child in Mohammad family after Wazir, Raees and Hanif. He also has a younger brother Sadiq. All five Mohammad brothers went on to play First-Class cricket for Pakistan, with Raees being the only unfortunate one not to get the Pakistan cap, though he was once the 12th man. Mohammad brothers were blessed to be raised in a sporting atmosphere. Their father too was a decent club cricketer while mother played carom and badminton.

4. Child Prodigy

Aged-11, Mushtaq played his first representative match for the School first XI for his school Christian Mission High School at Karachi, thus setting the stage for many big things he was to do in the coming days. He practised with his elder brothers who were established cricketers by then and also received valuable instructions from renowned coach Abdul Aziz.

5. Five brothers, two teams

The Mohammad brothers set a record in 1961 when all played together in a First-Class match in the Ayub Zonal Trophy. Mushtaq, Raees and Hanif were on one side, Karachi Whites, and Wazir and Sadiq on the other, Karachi Blues.

6. Three brothers, one team

Mushtaq, Hanif and Sadiq played together against New Zealand in Karachi Test from the 1969-70 series. It was a home Test for the Mohammad brothers. Hanif and Sadiq opened the innings while Mushtaq played at No. 4 in the Test which ended in a draw. This is also one of the only three instances where three brothers played in the same match. The other two instances are all three Grace brothers (Edward, WG and Frederick) playing against Australia at the Oval in 1880 and Hearne brothers (Frank, Alec & George) playing in a match between England and South Africa at Cape Town in 1891-92. However, Alec and George played for England while Frank turned out for South Africa.

7. Youngest First-Class player

Mushtaq was 13 years and 41 days old when he made his First-Class debut, making him one of the youngest players to appear in First-Class cricket. He scored 87 runs and took five wickets for 28 with his leg-spin bowling in that match.

8. Youngest Test player

At 15 years and 124 days, he was the then youngest Test debutant when he appeared for Pakistan against West Indies in 1959. His record was later broken by his countryman Hasan Raza, who made his debut against Zimbabwe in 1996 aged 14 years and 227 days.

9. Youngest Test centurion

At 17 years and 78 days, Mushtaq became the youngest Test centurion when he scored 101 against India at Delhi in 1961. His record was bettered by just 17 days when Bangladeshi batsman Mohammad Ashraful became the youngest Test centurion in the year 2001.

10. County over Country

In 1963, when he was 20-years-old, Mushtaq was offered a county contract by English county side Northamptonshire. Those days, to play county cricket, a player had to qualify by residing in England for nearly two years. The terms of qualification meant Mushtaq could not reside outside the United Kingdom for more than 30 days in that period, and couldn’t play First-Class cricket for any other team, including his domestic side in Pakistan, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

He shared his quandary to ESPNCricinfo in an interview, saying, Personally, I had a few things to consider. I would be away from home for two years and I was courting my wife at the time. And if I were to play county cricket I might be forgotten by Pakistan cricket: out of sight, out of mind. I said to Northants that I needed time.

Northants offered me a five-year contract. The remuneration was 800 in the first two seasons and an increase to 1000 for the following three years. I was in my early 20s and although I missed out on playing Tests for Pakistan before I returned in 1967, I learned a lot at Northants. The experience taught me a lot about batting in difficult conditions, by playing on wet wickets and uncovered pitches. Incidentally, the qualification rule came to an end in 1967.

11. Fixing

Former Australian captain and national selector Allan Border famously claimed that Mushtaq offered him $1 million to lose in fifth Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 1993. Mushtaq rejected claims made by Border, clarifying, If I wanted to do anything like that, which I never would have, I would have done it in my playing days when I might have had more influence. I retired in 1979 and I am supposed to have tried to fix a game in 1993, after 14 years? It’s laughable.”

12. Coach

Mushtaq coached Pakistan national team to the final of the 1999 Cricket World Cup, which his country lost. Recently, he also coached the United States national cricket team.

13. Spinner

Mushtaq was a more than handy leg-spinner. In fact, it won t be an over-statement if he is called as a proper all-rounder. He picked up 936 First-Class wickets, out of which 79 were in Tests. A wrist-spinner, he had a leg-break, googly and a flipper in his repertoire.

14. First Pakistani to 25,000 First-Class runs

Mushtaq was the first Pakistani player to score 25,000 First-Class runs, ending up his career with 31,091 runs. More than half of those runs came for Northamptonshire.

15. Twice achieved a hundred and five-wicket double in a match

Mushtaq was the first and till date only Pakistani to score a century and take five wickets in the same Test match twice.

16. One of the first bat twirlers

Mushtaq is known to be one of the early practitioners of bat twirling between the deliveries. India s Test skipper Virat Kohli is the modern-day practitioner, who has this habit of twirling his bat while preparing to face a delivery.

17. Reverse sweep

Mushtaq is regarded as one of the early proponents of reverse-sweep, a shot he started practicing in the 1970s. Though his elder brother Hanif is sometimes credited as the inventor of the shot, Mushtaq was one of the first to play it more often. The late Bob Woolmer and to some extent Andy Flower are credited with popularising the stroke.

18. World Series

In the late seventies, Mushtaq joined World Series Cricket, a break-away professional cricket competition organised by Kerry Packer for his Australian television network, Nine Network. The matches, which did not have official status, ran parallel to established international cricket.

19. Inside Out

Mushtaq came out with his autobiography titled Inside Out in the year 2006. According to ESPNCricinfo s then UK Editor Andrew Miller, the book does justice to his long and colourful life in cricket.