S Thawfeeq: Kardar Pioneered Sri Lanka's ICC Status (25 Apr 1996)

KARDAR PIONEERED LANKA`S ICC STATUS

BY SA`ADI THAWFEEQ

Kardar, who was president of the Pakistan Cricket Board was so impressed with the Sri Lankan team`s performance during their unofficial Test played at Lahore in March 1974, that he decided Pakistan would sponsor Sri Lanka for full ICC membership at the June meeting at Lord`s in 1975.

I wonder how many will remember the part Abdul Hafeez Kardar, who died of a heart attack in Lahore on Sunday, played in promoting Sri Lanka to become a fully-fledged Test cricket nation.

Kardar, who was president of the Pakistan Cricket Board was so impressed with the Sri Lankan team`s performance during their unofficial Test played at Lahore in March 1974, that he decided Pakistan would sponsor Sri Lanka for full ICC membership at the June meeting at Lord`s in 1975.

Thus began the battle between the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and the ICC to gain full membership of cricket`s controlling body.

Although Kardar set the ball rolling, it was not until 1981 that ICC finally recognised Sri Lanka as a full member by granting it Test status.

But for Kardar`s great foresight, Sri Lanka may have never played Test cricket. The entire nation therefore owes a debt of gratitude to him and should feel saddened by his demise at the age of 71.

In many ways, Kardar was the father of Pakistan cricket. He was a determined and orthodox captain and an administrator of great and almost unimpeachable authority.

Kardar is best remembered for leading his country to their first win over England on their maiden tour there in 1954. The win by 24 runs at the Oval tied the four-Test series 1-all (2 drawn) and stunned the cricket world because Pakistan were then the minnows of international cricket, having gained Test status in 1952.

He top scored in that memorable Test with 36 and was once more the top scorer with 69 when his side beat Australia in a Test for the first time at Karachi in 1956.

Kardar was captain of his country for the first 23 Tests during which time they also beat India and the West Indies. During the 1957-8 tour of the Caribbean, Kardar defied doctors` orders in the third Test at Kingston, and despite a broken finger scored 57 and bowled 37 overs.

He was a tall, attacking left-hand batsman and accurate leftarm slow and medium slow bowler, who in 26 Tests scored 927 runs (highest score 93 v India at Karachi, 1954-5), captured 21 wickets and held 16 catches.

He made his Test debut as Abdul Hafeez for India during their tour of England in 1946, but after the partition in 1947, became a citizen of Pakistan and represented his new country as A.H. Kardar. He is one of the few cricketers to have represented two countries in Test cricket.

Kardar was an Oxford `Blue` and also played for Warwickshire in the English county championships between 1948 and 1950.

After he retired from active cricket in 1958, Kardar moved into the Pakistan Cricket Board`s administrative field and apart from becoming its president was also the chairman of selectors for some time.

He was well known in politics, being elected to the Punjab Provincial Assembly on the Left Wing People`s Party ticket during the 1970 December general elections. Kardar later became the provincial education minister and also held the ambassador post to Switzerland.

During last month`s Wills World Cup tournament, the pavilion of the Gaddafi Stadium which held the final between Sri Lanka and Australia was named after Kardar - in recognition of his contribution to Pakistan cricket.

It was quite appropriate that Sri Lanka should become the World Cup champions at a venue named after a man who had set them on the road to gain international recognition.

Source:: Daily News (http://www.lanka.net)

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