Fazal Mahmood - first of the great Pakistan bowlers.

Byline: Qamar Ahmed

LIKE most of the world, I too am confined to the four walls of my home these days because of the unprecedented situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this gives me a rare opportunity to recollect the accomplishments and traits of some of the stalwarts of the game who helped us make our mark as a cricketing nation of substance in the early days.

Amongst those who stood out during the formative years were figures such as Mian Mohammad Saeed, Pakistan's first captain in the unofficial Tests, Abdul Hafeez Kardar who became the first captain to lead Pakistan in official Tests in 1951-52 after the ICC awarded the Test status to Pakistan, and of course, there was Little Master Hanif Mohammad, the scourge of all bowlers, the stylish Waqar Hasan and other men like Khan Mohammad and Munawar Ali Khan.

But one person who always caught my eye was the debonair Fazal Mahmood, a medium-fast bowler whose magnificent contribution in giving Pakistan a standing and a cricketing face is unforgettable.

A bowler of exceptional ability and skill, Fazal soon became the first Pakistan bowler to take 100 wickets or more in Tests. And believe me when I say that in my entire career as a journalist, I always rated him as one of the most handsome cricketers ever to step on a cricket field.

Tall, fair complexioned, broad shouldered with greenish eyes and a thick mop of hair covering his forehead, Fazal looked the part. He was very much I would say like Keith Miller of Australia, the greatest all-rounder of Don Bradman's time who I also had the privilege to watch in Test cricket here in Pakistan, bowling in tandem with the great Ray Lindwall.

I was a bit unlucky when I missed Fazal bowl and take 6 wickets in the first innings of the 1951-52 unofficial Test against the MCC at Karachi Gymkhana which Pakistan won by four wickets and subsequently gained their Test status.

I had reached the ground quite late and managed to watch only the final session when Hanif and Kardar, in a solid stand, scored 64 and an unbeaten 50 to take Pakistan to victory. I was a schoolboy in Hyderabad at the time and had come to watch this match for a day and saw Fazal only from a distance, sitting in the pavilion.

Having made his first-class debut for Northern India in 1947-48 in Ranji Trophy, Fazal's success with the ball had earned him selection for the Australia tour with India in 1948. But since Pakistan had come in to being, the Lahore born Fazal opted to...

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