February 18, 2014

Fantastic Fazal

Neil Harvey said he was virtually unplayable. Frank Tyson said he was "like Bedser, only better". Remembering Pakistan's first great bowler, Fazal Mahmood
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Fazal Mahmood: the first bowler to take at least 12 wickets in a match against four countries © Getty Images

As an aspiring young fast bowler in the early 1980s, I grew up worshipping Lennie Pascoe. Looking back now I really have no idea why this was the case, but he was my first cricketing hero. Lillee and Thommo were not far behind, but it soon became apparent that my desire to be the next "terrifying quick" was not supported in any way by actual ability. I came to the realisation that I was very much military-medium at best, and would never get beyond that.

I then became obsessed with the great medium-pacers throughout history. Stories of bowlers such as Maurice Tate, Alec Bedser, Bill O'Reilly, Sydney Barnes, Fred Spofforth and Charlie Turner fascinated me. The skill to deceive a batsman with spin, swing or seam without relying simply on pure pace seemed like the perfect compromise.

This is probably of no surprise to anyone who read my last article about the myth of the speed gun. However, my next cricketing hero after Pascoe was none of those previously named, and was actually a bowler of whom I still have never seen any video footage. Described by Frank Tyson as "like Bedser, only better", the great Pakistan bowler Fazal Mahmood managed to capture my imagination.

Fazal was born exactly 87 years ago, on Feburary 18, 1927 in Lahore. His father, Professor Ghulam Hussain, encouraged Fazal to play cricket from an early age and his sporting ability quickly became apparent. While he was still at school, Fazal started a physical fitness programme that would serve him well through his career. He completed a daily ten-mile jog and 500 jumps of a skipping rope, and would then finish off with 70 or 80 laps of the swimming pool during summer. This routine undoubtedly assisted his later capacity to bowl long spells without losing speed or accuracy.

After playing for Islamia College, Fazal was selected for his first first-class match in the annual Ranji Trophy competition in 1944. He represented the Northern India Cricketing Association, and his first wicket was the Indian Test cricketer Lala Amarnath. Fazal performed well in his subsequent first-class matches, and was considered unlucky not to be selected to tour England with the All-India side in 1946. The following year saw a continuation of his fine form, and in March 1947 he was named in the Indian side to travel to Australia later that year.

However, the Partition took place in 1947, and Fazal ultimately decided that he would not represent India and declined his place in the side. This choice meant that Fazal had to wait another five years to play Test cricket, as Pakistan was not made a full Test-playing member of the ICC until 1952.

Fazal was selected to play in Pakistan's inaugural Test, against India in Delhi in October 1952. This match was not a great success for Fazal, or indeed for any of the Pakistan team, with the visitors losing by an innings and 70 runs. The performance was quickly forgotten less than a week later, with Pakistan beating India by an innings and 43 runs in Lucknow. In just his second Test match, Fazal was instrumental, taking 5 for 52 and 7 for 42, as well as scoring a useful 29. His match figures of 12 for 94 compare well to Mitchell Johnson's recent 12 for 127 against South Africa. Ultimately, India won the five-Test series 2-1, but it was clear that Pakistan had uncovered a genuinely world-class bowler.

Perhaps the greatest factors underpinning why Fazal is less well known outside of Pakistan are his nation's new Test status at the time of his emergence and the lack of video footage of him

Pakistan's next international series was against England in Britain in 1954. This was seen as being a far harder test of the tourists' cricketing abilities than their previous Indian tour. The first Test was largely washed out, but Fazal showed early signs of his skills, taking 4 for 54 in England's only completed innings. The second Test was a disaster for both Pakistan and Fazal. After being dismissed for just 157, Pakistan's bowlers toiled away largely unproductively while England compiled a massive 558 for 6 declared, which underpinned their final victory by an innings and 129 runs. Concerns about Pakistan being prematurely admitted as a Test nation were raised when England dominated a rain-affected draw in the third Test. However, these murmurs were quickly silenced when Pakistan won the fourth Test and therefore drew the four match series 1-1. Fazal took 12 wickets in a match for the second time, with 6 for 53 and 6 for 46, and his bowling was again instrumental in Pakistan's victory.

Space limitations prevent a full recount of all Fazal's performances at Test level. He played a total of 34 Test matches between 1952 and 1962, taking 139 wickets at 24.70. Perhaps astonishingly, his best Test figures came from a match not against India, in October 1956, when he took 13 for 114 against Australia on matting in Karachi. Yet again his bowling was the key in Pakistan achieving their first win against a major Test competitor*.

Fazal took five wickets in an innings 13 times, and ten wickets in a match four times. He took five wickets in an innings approximately 25% of the time he bowled, which compares well to other players who largely carried their nation's attacks single-handedly, such as Muttiah Muralitharan (29%) and Richard Hadlee (24%).

He also led Pakistan ten times between 1959 and 1961, with a reasonable record of two wins, two losses and six draws. It is interesting to note that his bowling average as captain (19.14) is significantly better than his average when not captaining (27.03). After deciding to step down from both Test and first-class cricket in 1962, he continued working for the Pakistan Police Service, which had employed him since 1947, until his retirement in 1987.

Just how fast Fazal bowled remains a little unclear. Most cricketing correspondents of the time described his pace as "medium" and tend to paint a picture of a bowler similar to that of current day Australian Trent Copeland. Interestingly though, in his 2005 book My Spin on Cricket, Richie Benaud reported that Fazal bowled at a pace similar to Michael Kasprowicz. There are also descriptions of Fazal dismissing the great Garry Sobers with a bouncer that surprised the batsman with its pace. As Kasprowicz bowled consistently in the mid to high 130kph range, with his effort ball in the low-to-mid 140kph range, it would appear that Fazal was clearly faster than "medium" according to the batsmen facing him.

Even gauging what type of action Fazal bowled with is difficult now without any video footage to consider. In his autobiography, From Dusk to Dawn, contemporaries such as Mueen Afzal described Fazal as having "a high arm action", while Frank Tyson noted that Fazal had "a low almost slinging action". Nonetheless, it is apparent that he possessed incredible control over the ball. Ken Mackay described him as a wizard and the main reason that Pakistan were so hard to beat at home. Neil Harvey said he was "virtually unplayable" under favourable conditions. Keith Miller reflected that Fazal's bowling in Karachi in 1956 was the best bowling performance he ever saw; to put this into context, Miller rated Fazal's efforts above the 19 wickets by Jim Laker at Old Trafford in the same year.

While Fazal is widely and rightly revered within Pakistan, his legend sadly does not appear to have extended as much as it should have done into the wider cricketing world. The possible reasons for this lack of recognition can only be guessed at. The fact that Pakistan played on matting pitches at that time seems to be one of the primary criticisms aimed at undermining Fazal's record, but this is easily refuted by the statistics of his performances on turf in India, England and the West Indies. Perhaps the greatest factors for why he is less well known outside of Pakistan are his nation's new Test status at the time of his emergence and the lack of video footage.

I noted earlier my childhood fascination with Fazal the bowler, but as I found out more about him, this was matched with a growing appreciation for Fazal the man. After retiring from his lifelong role with the police, he become a strong advocate for the rights of the underprivileged, and used his own funds to open a school specifically to educate girls in rural areas. Fazal was obviously a wonderful bowler, but it appears he was an equally fine human being.

*While Fazal took at least 12 wickets in Pakistan's inaugural victories against India, England and Australia, he didn't manage to match this feat in Pakistan's first win over West Indies in March 1958. However, this wasn't really too much of a failure as he took 6 for 83 and 2 for 35 to again contribute strongly to his side's victory. Almost exactly 12 months later he took 6 for 34 and 6 for 66 against West Indies in Dhaka in 1959, thus becoming the first bowler to take at least 12 wickets in a match against four separate countries.

Stuart Wark works at the University of New England as a research fellow

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nampally on February 21, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    @Sir_Ivor: Coincidentally, I too saw Fazal at Fateh Maidan in 1961. He was bowling with a much reduced run then. But in his earlier tour of India he bowled with his full run up. I would rate him as a medium fast bowler around 130 to 135 KPH range with slightly round arm action. Fazal was a bowler who could make the ball talk with swing & seam. A superbly accurate bower who used his talent skillfully & intelligently, especially with the new ball. He was a Match winner on a helpful wkt. as he did against England at Lords. He was rightly compared to Alec Bedser who had a similar style of bowling but had more opportunities to show case his talents in English county Cricket. Any one who saw Fazal always described him as a very handsome guy who looked more western than Asian, with his blue eyes. Fazal left his legacy in Javed Burki - his nephew- a fine batsman(Oxford Blue) but not as dedicated to Cricket as Fazal. A great character, Fazal always left an indelible impression on his Fans!

  • Sir_Ivor on February 18, 2014, 12:44 GMT

    I saw Fazal at the Fateh maidan in 1961 when the visiting Pakistan side were playing a first class match there against South Zone. What struck me straightaway was that he was perhaps the most handsome cricketer I had ever seen. Though he did not take many wickets in that match, I remember his accuracy. He hardly gave any runs.Tyson's description of his bowling is more accurate.He was absolutely lethal on matting wickets as Harvey has said but was excellent even on turf pitches.In Lucknow in 1952,they played on a matting wicket I think when Pakistan won the Test.I do remember that he was a fast medium bowler.He was not as quick as Khan Mohammed and Mahmood Hussain who were his contemporaries.But I think Fazal was one of the greatest pace bowlers to come from Pakistan.I feel that he did not get his due in terms of acclaim because the partition of India came in the midst of his career.It is difficult to get recognised in the midst of such political turmoil. But for me Fazal was a great.

  • on February 23, 2014, 17:23 GMT

    Thank you Stuart to write such a beautiful article on my favourite Fazal Mahmood. His achievements for Pakistan remain unmatched. The first Pakistani to be included in the Wisden. I am lucky to have seen him take 12 wkts against Australia in 1956 at the National Stadium, Karachi. He had a unique bowling action . Stylish and the most handsome cricketer of the sub-continent.

  • on February 22, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    A very fine article on Fazal by Stuart. I had a very close rapport with Fazal and also co-authored 'Dusk To Dawn' autobiography of the great Pakistani cricketer. I agree that Fazal is not largely known outside Pakistan because of the simple reason that he didn't believe on self-projection. secondly, most of Pakistani sports journalists only project the current cricket stars. Even the ICC overlooked Fazal's achievements while distributing 'Hall of Fame Caps'. Fazal was first super star of Pakistan cricket who was instrumental in every victory that Pakistan registered between 1952-1959. last, I want to correct some comments which I read on this column. Javed Burki was not Fazal's nephew. Zahid Fazal ws not son of Fazal Mehmood. Fazal had two sons, Shahid Mehmood (late) and Shehzad Mehmood.

  • Salmans_A_Qureshi on February 20, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    One thin no one mentioned was his beauty. Undoubtedly the most handsome cricketer ever.

  • on February 20, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    Loved the article, thank you writer for writing about a true gentleman. I remember his one interview on PTV, when he told about his training, and his working in fields as farmer. I think we can get many info about him from Zahid Fazal, his son.

  • on February 19, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    Thank you Mr. Stuart Wark, for so subtly taking us down memory lane, with your wonderful description of Mr. Fazal Mahmoods achievements as a truly world class pacer and a great humane personality. May Allah rest his soul in peace..!

  • mmoosa on February 19, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    Not surprising that Fazal was a brilliant bowler given what we have seen from modern day Pakistan fast men,some of whom have to rank amongst the most skilful pace bowlers ever.Certainly Wasim amongst the left armers and Imran would be as skilled as any whilst Waqar's old ball skills have never been equalled.

    Fazal was a forerunner for the prototype Pakistan quick man and by all accounts was unplayable under certain conditions.

  • mani1951 on February 19, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    I was also watching Fazal Mahmood bowl at Fateh Maidan ,it was my outing to watch big cricket at the age of 9 and I remember Fazal Mahmood -tall and strapping -bowling -the same match I also saw Asif Iqbal Razvi (as he was known at that time ) bowling for the local team ,I remember him bowling definitely faster than Fazal-which attributes Fazal's success to craft than pace.I still remember Shujauddin taking wickets with his left arm spin (similarity with Tony Lock) -it was fascinating to watch the Pakistan test cricketers-I remember Hanif,Imtiaz(wicket keeper ) and Nasim Ul Ghani too being in that time and I hope I my memory serves me right

  • ShawnWoodsworth on February 19, 2014, 10:08 GMT

    Great article mate. Reminds me of a great time, when folks played the game for passion not money, unlike now ay. As a Kiwi, we admire Pakistanis ability to produce talented players despite having such a poor domestic set-up and resources. Still remember that tour during the mid-nineties when waqar and wasim toured New Zealand. First time got to see reverse swing yorkers like that. cheers

  • Nampally on February 21, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    @Sir_Ivor: Coincidentally, I too saw Fazal at Fateh Maidan in 1961. He was bowling with a much reduced run then. But in his earlier tour of India he bowled with his full run up. I would rate him as a medium fast bowler around 130 to 135 KPH range with slightly round arm action. Fazal was a bowler who could make the ball talk with swing & seam. A superbly accurate bower who used his talent skillfully & intelligently, especially with the new ball. He was a Match winner on a helpful wkt. as he did against England at Lords. He was rightly compared to Alec Bedser who had a similar style of bowling but had more opportunities to show case his talents in English county Cricket. Any one who saw Fazal always described him as a very handsome guy who looked more western than Asian, with his blue eyes. Fazal left his legacy in Javed Burki - his nephew- a fine batsman(Oxford Blue) but not as dedicated to Cricket as Fazal. A great character, Fazal always left an indelible impression on his Fans!

  • Sir_Ivor on February 18, 2014, 12:44 GMT

    I saw Fazal at the Fateh maidan in 1961 when the visiting Pakistan side were playing a first class match there against South Zone. What struck me straightaway was that he was perhaps the most handsome cricketer I had ever seen. Though he did not take many wickets in that match, I remember his accuracy. He hardly gave any runs.Tyson's description of his bowling is more accurate.He was absolutely lethal on matting wickets as Harvey has said but was excellent even on turf pitches.In Lucknow in 1952,they played on a matting wicket I think when Pakistan won the Test.I do remember that he was a fast medium bowler.He was not as quick as Khan Mohammed and Mahmood Hussain who were his contemporaries.But I think Fazal was one of the greatest pace bowlers to come from Pakistan.I feel that he did not get his due in terms of acclaim because the partition of India came in the midst of his career.It is difficult to get recognised in the midst of such political turmoil. But for me Fazal was a great.

  • on February 23, 2014, 17:23 GMT

    Thank you Stuart to write such a beautiful article on my favourite Fazal Mahmood. His achievements for Pakistan remain unmatched. The first Pakistani to be included in the Wisden. I am lucky to have seen him take 12 wkts against Australia in 1956 at the National Stadium, Karachi. He had a unique bowling action . Stylish and the most handsome cricketer of the sub-continent.

  • on February 22, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    A very fine article on Fazal by Stuart. I had a very close rapport with Fazal and also co-authored 'Dusk To Dawn' autobiography of the great Pakistani cricketer. I agree that Fazal is not largely known outside Pakistan because of the simple reason that he didn't believe on self-projection. secondly, most of Pakistani sports journalists only project the current cricket stars. Even the ICC overlooked Fazal's achievements while distributing 'Hall of Fame Caps'. Fazal was first super star of Pakistan cricket who was instrumental in every victory that Pakistan registered between 1952-1959. last, I want to correct some comments which I read on this column. Javed Burki was not Fazal's nephew. Zahid Fazal ws not son of Fazal Mehmood. Fazal had two sons, Shahid Mehmood (late) and Shehzad Mehmood.

  • Salmans_A_Qureshi on February 20, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    One thin no one mentioned was his beauty. Undoubtedly the most handsome cricketer ever.

  • on February 20, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    Loved the article, thank you writer for writing about a true gentleman. I remember his one interview on PTV, when he told about his training, and his working in fields as farmer. I think we can get many info about him from Zahid Fazal, his son.

  • on February 19, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    Thank you Mr. Stuart Wark, for so subtly taking us down memory lane, with your wonderful description of Mr. Fazal Mahmoods achievements as a truly world class pacer and a great humane personality. May Allah rest his soul in peace..!

  • mmoosa on February 19, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    Not surprising that Fazal was a brilliant bowler given what we have seen from modern day Pakistan fast men,some of whom have to rank amongst the most skilful pace bowlers ever.Certainly Wasim amongst the left armers and Imran would be as skilled as any whilst Waqar's old ball skills have never been equalled.

    Fazal was a forerunner for the prototype Pakistan quick man and by all accounts was unplayable under certain conditions.

  • mani1951 on February 19, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    I was also watching Fazal Mahmood bowl at Fateh Maidan ,it was my outing to watch big cricket at the age of 9 and I remember Fazal Mahmood -tall and strapping -bowling -the same match I also saw Asif Iqbal Razvi (as he was known at that time ) bowling for the local team ,I remember him bowling definitely faster than Fazal-which attributes Fazal's success to craft than pace.I still remember Shujauddin taking wickets with his left arm spin (similarity with Tony Lock) -it was fascinating to watch the Pakistan test cricketers-I remember Hanif,Imtiaz(wicket keeper ) and Nasim Ul Ghani too being in that time and I hope I my memory serves me right

  • ShawnWoodsworth on February 19, 2014, 10:08 GMT

    Great article mate. Reminds me of a great time, when folks played the game for passion not money, unlike now ay. As a Kiwi, we admire Pakistanis ability to produce talented players despite having such a poor domestic set-up and resources. Still remember that tour during the mid-nineties when waqar and wasim toured New Zealand. First time got to see reverse swing yorkers like that. cheers

  • gujratwalla on February 19, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Thank you very much indeed Stuart for this wonderful article.Fazal and Hanif Muhamaad were the names that symbollized Pakistan cricket in my very early boyhood.I was lucky enough to see footage of the Oval Test of 1954 on BBC in a programme which has escaped my memory.I wonder if BBC can reproduce it in a dvd or Cricinfo can ask for it?Fazal was great human being with enough compassion to atone for his flamboyant life led when he was a cricketer by putting humanity first when he retired and until his death. @sam revenent the Mohammad Nissar you mentioned was the first great Fast bowler from the then united India who played for his country in 1932 and 1936.Like Fazal he was a big Punjabi from the same parts and had great stamina!

  • on February 19, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Thank you Stuart - A well read article, remindes the glory of Pakistani cricket history in fast bowling.

  • KiwiRocker- on February 19, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    Wonderful piece of writing about a wonderful bowler. He was Pakistan's first true, great fast bowler. In this day and age of so called walls and over rated God's players like Fazal Mehmood stand out. He declined to play for India and waited 5 years. He then went on to serve his nation for several years. I am not old/lucky enough to see Fazal Mehmood, but I have seen some footage of Pakistan's famous oval test victory and Fazal looked so majestic. His run up, his action and those wonderful leg cutters were superb. Needless to mention that Fazal also had usual ingredients of most Pakistani fast bowlers,i.e good looks. Fazal was very popular in Bollywood circles too. I also saw Fazal's interview on TV many years back and he spoke about helping others. What a wonderful man..His simplicity was an example....Players like Inzemam, Fazal and Imran Khan are true examples of being a sporting hero....

  • on February 19, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    Somebody mentioned Mohammad Nasser (Nisar?). Is that the same left arm bowler who got Les Flavell of Australia out a few times during the Pak v Aus series? We had an old radio which I would tune to Lahore Station. Cricket commentary was done by Omar Qureshi and Jamshed Marker in English. A number of kids from my street would come over to listen (radios were rather scarce in those days in that part of town) and obviously since I was the only one who knew English I would have to keep up a running translation. First time I heard the expression "bunny."

  • on February 19, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    @ mhb1951 Thank you for re-kindling the momories of the Dacca Test match between Richie Benaud's Australians and Fazal Mahmmood's Pakistan Team. Dacca had hosted the 1st Test. Pakistan had batted first. Hanif Mohammad had opend the batting for Pakistan with a cut down to third man of Alan Davidson that had resulted in 3 runs. Hanif went on to score 66, I think. Yes, and the crowd really went wild when Fazal showed the Red Cherry, the New Ball to the Crowd. I was sitting in the Student's section and remember the joy when Neil Harvey, one of the Aussie greats was clean bowled by Fazal on 96.

  • on February 19, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    I lived in Lahore on the same street as Fazal (in Garhi Shahoo for those who must know), three or four houses down from his home. I must have been very young at that time, perhaps about 6/7 years old. I have memories of playing street cricket with his son Shahid who would bring his father's bat and other gear, a great treat. I remember Fazal walking down the street and all us kids standing to one side, in awe. And I remember Fazal being idolized by the women. Later I learnt that Lahore stadium used to have a ladies stand and Fazal was often clapped and forced to field on the boundary close to that stand. And, yes, I did hear it said by women on our street that he was the most good looking and handsomest man around. If I recall correctly, he was fair of complexion with blue eyes. Fazal's house had a large interior verandeh and I remember playing cricket with his son in that verandeh during hot summer afternoons whilst Fazal probably took a siesta.

  • Arslan_Javed on February 19, 2014, 5:15 GMT

    He is always regarded as Hero of our cricket in Pakistan. When ever great fast bowlers are listed in Pakistan , list starts with his name at top followed by Sarfraz, Imran, Waseem and Waqar later.

  • loveall on February 19, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    Thank you for recalling the memories of one great cricketer.

  • mhb1951 on February 19, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    I loved the piece written on this great bowler whom I am fortunate to have watched at Dhaka in 1961 (I believe). Australia were touring Pakistan. Neil Harvey, the great Australian was batting in his usual flair. At his score of 96, he raised his bat to the crowd and in response Fazal had raised his arm with the ball. Rest-if anyone remembers, Fazal clean bowled Harvey and the crown just went wild. I still cherish that memory. Yes Harvey is right when when he says, Fazal Mahmood was unplayable at times. A true and great fast bowler indeed.

  • Desihungama on February 19, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    @Mohit Sharma - He was born India's Son. He was very much yours too! What an amazing piece of history I was made aware of today about one of the Pakistan Greats. I can only imagine from the picture you've put above the handsomeness he would have exuded. Thank you Stuart.

  • on February 19, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    Thank You for writing such a beautiful article on the first Pakistani bowling hero. A real match winner :)

  • Beazle on February 18, 2014, 23:01 GMT

    I saw him twice. He bowled at about Shane Watson's pace with an action similar to Jacques Kallis. He was very accurate and bowled cutters.

  • on February 18, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    I've never seen him bowl but he must have been good (like a better Mohammed Asif, and Asif is good) to be picked in the Pakistan all time XI ahead of Asif or Sarfraz. Some bowling attack, that. Fazal, Imran, Waqar, Wasim and Qadir.

  • on February 18, 2014, 20:07 GMT

    Great story -awe inspiring! No other test nation has been as successful starting off - virtually all down to this man!!

  • ToTellUTheTruth on February 18, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    Oh how I would love to see the videos of this legend and Amar Singh of India bowling!!!! Amar Singh was supposed to be the fastest bowler India ever produced (much faster than today's trundlers). Mohammed Nasser also strikes the same kind of nostalgia.

  • on February 18, 2014, 15:22 GMT

    He was aGreat bowler.A hero of his era.

  • getsetgopk on February 18, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    @Sir_Ivor: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories of the good old times, appreciate and happy to hear from someone who actually saw the great man bowl in the flesh, thanks to Stuart Wark too. Known in Pakistan as the hero of oval but even in Pakistan not many talk about his bowling skills they way they talk of others like Wasim and Khan, dont really know why that is, could perhaps be a time too distant in memory of many but knowing what he has achieved as a bowler, he certainly was one the great fast bowler of his era. Winning a test match against India on first ever tour outside and drawing the first ever series against Eng in Eng, Pakistan owe Fazal Mahmood a great deal of gratitude. May God bless his soul.

  • on February 18, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    Thanx Stuart, for writing about my hero Fazal. No other bowler has won single handedly for his country other than Fazal, particularly in early stages after getting teat status. Pakistan had (still have) a unique record to beat every test team in very first bilateral rubber. (except South Africa, against Fazal never played. In fact Pakistan lost golden chance in 3rd test at Faisalabad in 97, bowled out at 92 while chasing a meager 146) Fazal was instrumental in all those victories except vs NZ. Lucknow against India, Oval against England. Karachi against Aus, forgot the venue of last test against WI in Caribbean, done very little against NZ because of injury. A true legend. @ Sir_Ivor you are absolutely spot on, he was one of most handsome cricketers and rightly was called "Lady Killer"

  • ishrat1971 on February 18, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    I heard my grand mother telling me tales of the handsome light eyed Fazal who wooed the girls of Karachi in 1956. Yes he was a poster boy much before Imran and Wasim @ Mohit Sharma LOL especially in the light of the marathon spells they have had to bowl to the Kiwis

  • J751 on February 18, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    Fazal was indeed a legend,the first genuine match winner for Pakistan.Growing up,I read a good deal about his exploits,particularly at the Oval in 1954.However,even the state run Pakistan Television didn't seem to have any video footage of Fazal's bowling.Along with Kardar and Hanif,Fazal was a pivotal figure in Pakistan cricket's early history.

  • Bobby_Talyarkhan on February 18, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    A true legend - it would be good to hear of comparisons between him and his close predecessor - medium fast bowling all-rounder Amar Singh.

  • Oxonion on February 18, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    I remember meeting the great Fazal Mahmood about 25 years back as a teenager and during a long conversation what stuck in my mind was his narration about his daily more than 10 mile jogs from center of Lahore to river Ravi (outskirts of Lahore) and that he said was the reason why he ended up with 12 in the match and Kardar with 2! Another factor that he contributed to his fitness was his fetish for sweet corn! Even at the age of 60 his strong mindedness was very conspicuous and one could see why he achieved what he did for Pakistan. Although we all remember the blue eyed fast bowler truly as Pakistan's first matinee idol even before we invented the Imran khans and the Shahid afridis of this world but what not a lot of us know was the humility and the piety with which the man lived his life. May God bless his soul.

  • Faridoon on February 18, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    I've heard a lot about Fazal from my dad. Apparently, not only was he the first bowling hero of Pakistan but he was also the first poster-boy heart throb long before the likes of Imran Khan and Wasim Akram wooed their fans.

  • on February 18, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    So Pakistan were producing world class fast bowlers 70 years ago, and we still have nothing to show!

  • EngineerKhan on February 18, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    When Johnson, today's rock-star took 12-for against South Africa (his first ever), it exactly reminded me of Fazal

  • on February 18, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    Indeed he was a gem of a bowler. He was the first bowling hero that Pakistan had. He was a match winner. Stats tells very little of the actual story, having said that IMHO he lead bowling attack and it was because of him that Pakistan believed in winning.

  • on February 18, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    Indeed he was a gem of a bowler. He was the first bowling hero that Pakistan had. He was a match winner. Stats tells very little of the actual story, having said that IMHO he lead bowling attack and it was because of him that Pakistan believed in winning.

  • EngineerKhan on February 18, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    When Johnson, today's rock-star took 12-for against South Africa (his first ever), it exactly reminded me of Fazal

  • on February 18, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    So Pakistan were producing world class fast bowlers 70 years ago, and we still have nothing to show!

  • Faridoon on February 18, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    I've heard a lot about Fazal from my dad. Apparently, not only was he the first bowling hero of Pakistan but he was also the first poster-boy heart throb long before the likes of Imran Khan and Wasim Akram wooed their fans.

  • Oxonion on February 18, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    I remember meeting the great Fazal Mahmood about 25 years back as a teenager and during a long conversation what stuck in my mind was his narration about his daily more than 10 mile jogs from center of Lahore to river Ravi (outskirts of Lahore) and that he said was the reason why he ended up with 12 in the match and Kardar with 2! Another factor that he contributed to his fitness was his fetish for sweet corn! Even at the age of 60 his strong mindedness was very conspicuous and one could see why he achieved what he did for Pakistan. Although we all remember the blue eyed fast bowler truly as Pakistan's first matinee idol even before we invented the Imran khans and the Shahid afridis of this world but what not a lot of us know was the humility and the piety with which the man lived his life. May God bless his soul.

  • Bobby_Talyarkhan on February 18, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    A true legend - it would be good to hear of comparisons between him and his close predecessor - medium fast bowling all-rounder Amar Singh.

  • J751 on February 18, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    Fazal was indeed a legend,the first genuine match winner for Pakistan.Growing up,I read a good deal about his exploits,particularly at the Oval in 1954.However,even the state run Pakistan Television didn't seem to have any video footage of Fazal's bowling.Along with Kardar and Hanif,Fazal was a pivotal figure in Pakistan cricket's early history.

  • ishrat1971 on February 18, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    I heard my grand mother telling me tales of the handsome light eyed Fazal who wooed the girls of Karachi in 1956. Yes he was a poster boy much before Imran and Wasim @ Mohit Sharma LOL especially in the light of the marathon spells they have had to bowl to the Kiwis

  • on February 18, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    Thanx Stuart, for writing about my hero Fazal. No other bowler has won single handedly for his country other than Fazal, particularly in early stages after getting teat status. Pakistan had (still have) a unique record to beat every test team in very first bilateral rubber. (except South Africa, against Fazal never played. In fact Pakistan lost golden chance in 3rd test at Faisalabad in 97, bowled out at 92 while chasing a meager 146) Fazal was instrumental in all those victories except vs NZ. Lucknow against India, Oval against England. Karachi against Aus, forgot the venue of last test against WI in Caribbean, done very little against NZ because of injury. A true legend. @ Sir_Ivor you are absolutely spot on, he was one of most handsome cricketers and rightly was called "Lady Killer"

  • getsetgopk on February 18, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    @Sir_Ivor: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories of the good old times, appreciate and happy to hear from someone who actually saw the great man bowl in the flesh, thanks to Stuart Wark too. Known in Pakistan as the hero of oval but even in Pakistan not many talk about his bowling skills they way they talk of others like Wasim and Khan, dont really know why that is, could perhaps be a time too distant in memory of many but knowing what he has achieved as a bowler, he certainly was one the great fast bowler of his era. Winning a test match against India on first ever tour outside and drawing the first ever series against Eng in Eng, Pakistan owe Fazal Mahmood a great deal of gratitude. May God bless his soul.