November 1, 2001

Book Review: 'Pakistan Test Cricket Sojourn'

Arshad Chughtai and Suhael Ahmed
Book Review: Tariq Raz, book called 'Pakistan Test Cricket Sojourn'
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Tariq Raz
Tariq Raz
Tariq Raz's latest book, 'Pakistan Test Cricket Sojourn' is an excellent addition on cricket literature in Pakistan, particularly his compilation of scorecards and records. In the past similar exercises had been conducted by Mukhtar Bhatti, Abid Ali Qazi and Masood Hamid and by the noted statistician Ben Lawrence. In fact, the PCB (formerly BCCP) had also issued some compendiums containing some older scorecards and matches played by Pakistan teams till then. But this book, under review, is more comprehensive. It presents scorecards, records and a narrated summary review of all the 90 Test Series Pakistan has played from 1952-53 up to their last tour of New Zealand in February-March 2000-01. Of course the summarized review has been presented in a remarkable manner.

Fazal Mahmood
Fazal Mahmood
Photo © PCB
Compilation & review is inline with set past traditions:
In the field of cricket statistics and compilation of records, the most noteworthy contributions have been by Roy Webber, Bill Frindall and James Gibb. Their effort has been of immense benefit to the cause of the game by compiling vital statistics and bringing out facts and figures to the great delight of cricket fans the world over.

Tariq Raz must be complimented, for he has successfully produced a key book on Pakistan Test Cricket in the tradition set by the famous historians of the game. Page by page, this is a history of the growth of Pakistan Cricket. Valuably, he has given the full test career figures of every player who has represented Pakistan in Test Cricket and also provided every individual and team record.

What makes it more different and distinguishes it from other available books on the subject is, it provides surprisingly fresh information and some unique comments. This certainly goes to the author's credit. Below are some selected pieces of information and comments in the book, surely to be enjoyed by readers:

Javed Miandad
Javed Miandad
Photo © CricInfo
Some highlights, fresh information and unique comments:
Pakistan v India, 1954-55 series, was the first series in history that failed to produce results.

  • Hanif Mohammad's longest innings record in first class cricket has recently been broken by an Indian in their domestic cricket.
  • The decades of 60's was by far the worst in the history of Pakistan Test Cricket. Six different captains led Pakistan to the cricket field.
  • Just two victories, both against New Zealand were achieved as compared to eight defeats during the same period.
  • Pakistan recorded its first overseas series success after nearly 20 years (New Zealand, 1972-73)
  • The nightmare of 60's was forgotten as a new era dawned, Javed Miandad's total of 520 runs in the series is also a world record for any player in his first Test series (New Zealand, 1976-77)
  • The memorable Sydney Test victory went a long way in establishing Pakistan credentials as one of the top teams in world cricket. Everyone from then on began to take Pakistan seriously (Pakistan in Australia, Sydney Test, 1976-77)
  • In spite of going down in the series against the West Indies the season was till then Pakistan's best season since gaining test status in 1952-53 (Pakistan in West Indies, 1976-77)
  • Perhaps it was the quietest series played by Imran Khan during his entire period as captain of the side (Australia in Pakistan, 1982-83)
  • So one-sided was the contest that the Indians must have been relieved on losing just three of the matches (India in Pakistan, 1982-83)
  • Pakistan for only the second time in a home Test were forced to follow-on (Australia in Pakistan, Rawalpindi Test, 1994-95)
  • Wasim and Waqar bowled unchanged throughout the first innings in the Kandy Test. It was only the second time in Pakistan Test history when two opening bowlers had achieved the feat. The first instance was when Fazal Mahmood and Khan Mohammad bowled unchanged to rout Australia in the first innings at Karachi in 1956-57 (Pakistan in Sri Lanka, Kandy Test, 1994-95)
  • Arvinda de Silva scored an amazing three consecutive hundreds in the series. In the 2nd match he remained unbeaten in both the innings during his three figures knocks. This was the first occasion in the history of test cricket, when a batsman has achieved such a remarkable feat. (Pakistan in Sri Lanka, 1996-97)
  • As Pakistan team made a victory lap of the ground, the entire Chennai crowd stood up and cheered the visitors on their splendid performance. In the tension filled atmosphere this sportsmanship was a breath of fresh air. (Pakistan in India, Chennai Test, 1998-99)
  • It was such a mistake that the umpire personally came into Pakistani dressing room after the match and apologized for the error. (On umpiring errors in Antigua Test in West Indies, 1999-2000)
  • Wasim Akram
    Wasim Akram
    Photo © CricInfo
    Photographs in the book:
    The book contains excellent photographs of both men and matches. It is thus a memorable album of past and present Pakistan Test Cricketers as well as group photographs of teams. An interesting aspect of the book is that it contains portraits of all the Pakistan Cricket Board Presidents and Chairmen and also portraits of all the Test Captains.

    Physicals:
    This laptop sized, glossy and heavy book with an attractive title and cover design has a huge amount of interesting content. It is wholeheartedly recommended for any reader and more so for those connoisseurs, interested in statistics and records.

    Waqar Younis
    Waqar Younis
    Photo © CricInfo
    Some minor errors:
    As in any work of this size, a few errors have missed the editor's eye. The Author may consider issuing an addendum:

    Page 12:
    On the 1964-65 tour of New Zealand: 'Hanif Mohammad continued his good performance and scored an unbeaten century in the third test at Christchurch'. However, the 'Little Master' had a lean patch against the New Zealanders on that tour and before scoring the unbeaten century, his scores were only 5 & 25 (Wellington), 27 & 27 at (Auckland) and 10 in the first innings in the Christchurch Test. Perhaps it would be appropriate to say he 'came out of the lean patch, regained his form and scored an unbeaten century in the third test at Christchurch'.

    Page 15:
    About Zaheer Abbas: 'that he failed to score another fifty in other test innings on the tour never really diminished his reputation as a great find'. But Zaheer Abbas had scored another 50 by hitting a 72 at Headingley after his 274 at Edgbaston in the 1971 tour.

    Page 28 (New Zealand in Pakistan):
    About Wasim Akram: 'This memorable performance was enough for him to make his debut in the three test rubber'. However, Wasim Akram made his debut in the next series in New Zealand, in the 2nd Test at Auckland, 1984-85 and not in the New Zealand in Pakistan series.

    Page 34:
    Hanif's 334 should be corrected to Hanif's 337

    Book Cover
    Book Cover
    Endorsement:
    Having read this fine book cover to cover, we can certainly say the book will go a long way to serve the cause of Pakistan Cricket and will induce greater enthusiasm amongst cricket fans in this country and will also be a source of very useful information on Pakistan Test Cricket for readers abroad. It undoes the recent lack of cricket books about the enigmatic, talented and unpredictable Pakistan cricket team and its performances all over the world.

    Tariq Raz is also a well-known cricket commentator, lives and works in Karachi and reachable via email at drtariqraz@yahoo.com. This book, published by Saad Publications, will grace any cricket lover's bookshelf and costs a mere Rs 500 or US $ 20, well worth the investment!