February 8, 2010

Abbamania

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On a sticky Peshawar afternoon in 1998, Mark Taylor clipped a Test triple-hundred while Pakistan's spinners tossed and chased and collected one wicket for 327 runs. Next morning Abdul Qadir, who was not any more a Pakistani Test spinner, and hadn't been for eight years, found himself in a car bound for Princes Park in one of Melbourne's lovelier suburbs.

Carlton was playing Footscray that day.

Carlton was Abdul Qadir's new club.

Driving the car was Carlton's vice-president, Craig Cook, who was relating the contents of an email his legspinning son Calum had sent - something about a Footscray batting wiz named "Larko".

"Tell Abba," the email went, "that Larko only picks wrong'uns from off the track, not out of the hand."

Qadir stared out the windscreen. The car pulled up at the oval.

"Hey Abdul," roared Ian Wrigglesworth, Carlton's captain. "Listen. Larko can't pick a wrong'un. You set it up, do whatever you want."

Qadir nodded and said nothing. Not until many minutes later, as they were walking out to field, did he ask politely: "When does this Larko come in?"

Larko was Rohan Larkin, an ex-state batsman, and he stepped out that day at No. 4.

Qadir watched him approach, stuck a fielder at close gully. And bowled. Wrong'un. Larkin, failing to pick it, went to square cut. The ball smacked the bat's edge and whistled through first slip's hands for two.

"Great," Larkin thought, "I'm off the mark and I've seen his wrong'un. I'll be right from here."

Qadir's second ball was faster; wicketkeeper Micky Butera rocked back instinctively on his heels. It was also wider. "Very close to the edge of the pitch," says Larkin. It was too wide to make mayhem, so wide that the umpire cleared his throat and gave a preliminary twitch of his arms. Larkin flung his own arms high, his bat even higher - "to allow the ball to travel through harmlessly".

Instead the ball dipped - swooped, more like - as if by remote control. It landed, veered headlong in the wrong direction, then hit middle stump, like Shane Warne dumbfounding Mike Gatting all over again. In reverse.

"Abdul spun this wrong'un one and a half feet," gasps Butera. "Sounds ridiculous when you say it."

"I would play that ball the same way a hundred times out of a hundred," believes Larkin.

"There was an element of luck in the Warne ball," Cook points out. "Whereas Abdul's was absolutely contrived."

The only person not surprised was the contriver himself. Deep down, Qadir knew that by rights he should have been in Peshawar that Saturday, playing for his country not a suburb. His Carlton team-mates knew that he knew it. He did not need to say so; though sometimes he said it anyway. There was and remained only one wonder of Pakistani spin.

But Qadir was 43. His face was unwrinkled. Brown eyes still danced with mischief. But selectors of Test teams have no love for 43-year-olds.

That was why he wasn't in Peshawar. It does not explain how he came to be playing park cricket in Melbourne.

****

IT HAPPENED, like many of the best ideas, after a long and jolly lunch. The Carlton Cricket and Football Social Club was the setting. Big Jack Elliott, football club president and one-time prime ministerial aspirant, glared at the cricket club vice-president and barked: "Why can't you bastards win like us?"

"Well," said Craig Cook, "we've lost a little bit of flair. We really need a big-name player."

Big Jack barked again. "You get the player and we'll pay for it."

On his last weekend in Melbourne he was handed the new ball, not for the first time that summer. And for the umpteenth time, from mid-day till sundown, he bowled and bowled and bowled

Cook, a legspin fanatic, thought of Qadir. He phoned an old pal, Javed Zaman Khan, cousin of Imran. An evening net tryout was arranged and Cook's ticket to Lahore booked. "We took Abdul down to the Lahore Gymkhana Club nets, where he bowled for an hour. And he looked beautiful. We signed him up on the spot."

Forty thousand dollars Carlton paid him. They put him up in a flat in Brunswick, not far from the practice nets. Larkin was one of eight men from Footscray he fooled that Saturday. At spectator-less playing fields all over Melbourne, the ranks of the befuddled grew: at Windy Hill, at Arden Street, at Ringwood's Jubilee Park.

Arms bucked and swayed and his tongue kept licking his fingers when Qadir skipped in and bowled. The passing of decades had taken a few spikes out of his flipper, which now slid more than it spat. But the miracles of his legbreak remained two-fold: the sheer stupendous size of the spin, and the way he could vary it at will. Wrong'uns, meanwhile, arrived in threes.

"Three types," Butera confirms. There was a lightning wrong'un, a mid-paced wrong'un lobbed up from wide of the stumps, and a slow wrong'un. "It looked like a lollipop," Butera says of this last invention, "and the batsman would think, here's an opportunity to come down and score. But it would drop incredibly late, and as soon as the batsman got there he'd realise he didn't have as much time as he thought he had." The lollipop wrong'un left more batsmen licked than any of Qadir's other variations, helping Butera rewrite the Victorian Cricket Association record books for most catches and stumpings in a season.

"Best time of my life. Abdul put me on the map," he says. That is not just rosy-glassed affection talking. Nine days after the Larkin ball Butera, previously unheralded, made his state 2nd XI debut.

Mid-January came; an encounter with the competition's in-form batsman beckoned. Geelong's Jason Bakker, tall and lumbering and toe-tied against even the gentlest spin bowling, had heard all about Qadir's variations. His coach Ken Davis tried to replicate them, hurling balls down, floating them up, while Bakker watched Ken's hand in the hope of reading what might happen. After a week of this it was time to face the real thing in a match. And it felt, to Bakker, as if he were still in the practice nets.

With eyes wide open he'd stare at Qadir's wrist. He left balls he was supposed to leave. He defended others comfortably. If he could get to the pitch of the ball, he'd drive. When it was wider, he'd cut, but softly, never forcing anything. Bakker had heard batsmen more debonair than him talk about being in "the zone", and for the first time he really understood it. "This sounds incredibly vain but I felt like I didn't play a false stroke."

They paused for drinks. Captain Wrigglesworth despaired. He trotted up to his star bowler. "Listen. This bloke's picking your wrong'un."

And just like that Qadir stopped bowling it. No flipper or flotilla of multi-speeded googlies. The magic act was over. Every ball was a legbreak, landing on or slightly outside off stump. Every ball twisted harmlessly away. This went on for an hour. It was a scorching afternoon, a flat deck. Bakker cruised past 50. "I'd broken him." And something else had happened too - "I was getting more confident, more relaxed, less vigilant."

So when another one wafted down, as ho-hum as all the others, Bakker took one stride forward and shouldered arms, intent on letting the thing whirr past, and then just as it was about to bounce, inches from his nose, he noticed that this particular delivery was actually a touch wider, and the seam looked different, and by then it was too late to do anything other than think, "Shit I hope it misses", which it didn't. It knocked back middle stump.

Eleven years on, Bakker's head is still shaking. "An hour - he was prepared to wait an hour. There was I falsely thinking I had broken him, when all that time he was working up a trap for me. I mean, my God, the mentality of the man, the mindset."

Later Qadir would boast, "I saw it in his eyes" - saw that microscopic let-up in the batsman's vigilance, which was what he had been waiting for all along.

****

HE LIVED for Saturdays, his new team-mates sensed. In his inner-city flat he was on his own. The club vice-president drove him to matches, to training. Most nights he ate at the vice-president's house. "Abdul had never cooked a meal in his life," Cook explains. "Never made a cup of tea in his life. So if he wasn't eating at our place I'd organise the Pakistani community to bring food in. And he got a bit lonely, so I'd have to go around and see him."

He would clap opposition batsmen's fine strokes. He would tell people what a pleasure it was to meet them. "No, no," he politely informed his captain one gusty Saturday, "I will bowl downwind." Another Saturday, batting against a fast bowler and a spinner, he insisted that his team-mates jump the fence to alternately ferry out and fetch his helmet at the end of every over.

He did not swear. When Qadir was around, Butera used to soften his own language. "But I don't think the rest of the boys did."

He did not lairise, throw high-fives or drink beer. "I wouldn't have thought he made a friend while he was here," says Wrigglesworth. "I don't know what he did from Monday to Friday and I wouldn't have thought many people do. As soon as the game finished on a Saturday he was pretty much off. I don't think he sang the team song once."

The song, in fairness, was seldom aired, for Carlton kept losing despite Qadir's wickets. By the eve of the season's final match at Northcote Park he had 66 - only seven shy of the post-war record set by Richmond quick Graeme Paterson in 1965-66. Qadir thought about that record often. "He never," Cook reflects, "reckoned he should have been left out of the Test side. So when he came over here it wasn't a holiday. He was wanting to show what he could do."

On his last weekend in Melbourne he was handed the new ball, not for the first time that summer. And for the umpteenth time, from mid-day till sundown, he bowled and bowled and bowled. His preoccupation with the record and those seven elusive wickets had become something close to an obsession. Nobody except Wrigglesworth and the Carlton committee men realised this - until, that is, the fall of Northcote's ninth wicket, Qadir's sixth, at which point he bounced into the team huddle and shrieked: "One more!"

"If he had just shut his gob," says Wrigglesworth, "no one else would have known. Instead the boys were all going: 'Hey, hang on a minute!'"

One more, alas, did not come easily. Northcote's last-wicket pair looked untroubled. Runs flowed. Wrigglesworth thought about taking Qadir off. Wrigglesworth couldn't take him off. "By this stage," he says, "I was a puppet of the president and the committee. And they wanted to see Abdul get this record."

A few short years later Douggie was picked for Australia's team of intellectually disabled cricketers. He has since represented his country in South Africa and England, this stranger who had never bowled a wrong'un until the day he met Abdul Qadir and asked how it was done

Qadir kept going. He ran through all his variations. The partnership kept swelling - to 95 by the tea break. Forty-six overs Qadir had bowled unchanged.

"Should I take him off now?"

Permission was granted. Five balls later the wicket fell.

The Ryder Medal he won as the competition's best player still hangs on his wall in Lahore. His 492 overs in a season might never be surpassed. Seventy-two wickets at 15.87 in the era of covered pitches at the age of 43 is a feat carved in club cricket legend. It could have been 73, the record should have been his, he told the Age's gossip columnist the day before he flew home; if only the captain had listened, if only the captain had bowled him a bit more.

"Oh, Abdul," sighed Wrigglesworth when he saw the paper next morning. "Where's this come from?"

****

WHEN Jason Bakker remembers the day that he did not play a false stroke and was deceived by the most mysterious ball he ever faced, he thinks of the heat. At tea-time he galloped upstairs to the Kardinia Park dining room and began gulping down water. "I was tucking into rockmelon and watermelon and whatever else I could find." That's when he glanced out the window and saw that Qadir, who had bowled through the entire afternoon session without a rest, was still on the oval.

Qadir was out there with Craig Whitehand, known to all at Geelong Cricket Club as "Douggie", the guy who fronted up every Saturday in his whites and his spikes to drag off the pitch covers and carry out drinks and take care of the equipment. As Qadir was walking off, Douggie had stopped him at the players' gate and asked, how do you bowl a wrong'un. Now the two of them were standing on the grass, metres apart. A couple of balls lay between them. Qadir would wave his arms and talk a bit. Then he'd bowl a few. Then Douggie would bowl a few. After a while Qadir would wander across and say something. Then Douggie would bowl a few more.

Bakker went back to his watermelon and forgot what he'd seen. Twenty minutes went by before he thought about strapping the pads back on. "As I was coming down the stairs," Bakker recalls, "I looked out on the ground. And the two of them were still there. Abdul had given his whole break on a hot day to this guy from Geelong who he knew nothing about."

At Geelong training the next week Douggie was gleefully flighting wrong'uns. A few short years later he was picked for Australia's team of intellectually disabled cricketers. He has since represented his country in South Africa and England, this stranger who had never bowled a wrong'un until the day he met Abdul Qadir and asked how it was done.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    Well, this is arguably the best article i have read on Cricinfo. The writer has expressed his ideas wonderfully making the readers see Qadir's flippers, leg spinners, gugglies, wrong un's, loopy wrong un's and so many other varieties. The article is as great as Qadir used to be in an era dominated by fast bowlers. I would have never forgiven me if I had missed this masterpiece about the Magician. Thanks Christian for creating such a classic. Perhaps i will have to wait for ages to find such a fine piece of writing on cricinfo. thanks again.

  • POSTED BY on | June 22, 2013, 18:10 GMT

    seen him live at bourda, georgetown guyana in 1988.i was 20 yrs old and wanting to play cricket for the west indies. imran stole the show with 11 wkts. but qadir was the only one who gave him support right through the series.his googly and flipper took care of phil simmons and richardson early on the final morning. his 7 overs for only 23 runs in the odi was great when everyone was beaten out of sight. well he got into trouble when he dished out a googly and a flipper at a troublesome spectator in barbados. istill remember this series as if it happened last year.

  • POSTED BY on | June 22, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    the eye, it was, and perhaps still is, in his eye - we were VERY fortunate to have him in the team - the true wizard champ - thanks for a great read

  • POSTED BY Sheri76 on | February 11, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    A very nice piece of writing... I believe i am one of the very few lucky readers here who has had the great opportunity of a lifetime, as leg spinner myself, to have been coached by the great ADBUL QADIR at the LCCA ground, outside Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium back in the hot summer of 1989. As a 14 year old at the time, Qadir taught me how to bowl a googly, leg spin, and the flipper! Still fresh in my memory was the test match at Faisalabad where he wrecked havoc against the Great West Indies and they were bowled out for 56. As a great Cricket lover, here i was, taking a master class from the man who took 7 wickets in the innings of that test match. And was a mystery for so many batsmen around the World. To me, what was so special about him was that he had the same hand grip on the ball for every single variation he had in his armoury. After the coaching session with Qadir, on the way back home i kept thinking to myself.... That is why he was so unique and why batsmen could'nt pick him.

  • POSTED BY pchats_2000 on | February 10, 2010, 14:28 GMT

    Firstly thank you for the sweet article. It leaves a smiole on your face and a tear in your eye. I had the honour of watching Abdul Quadir live. Everything he did was different. His run-up to bowl once inspired avery famous Indian Music Composer. While not getting into the Qadir vs Warne debate, I would only like to mention that it was this very quiet soldier for Pakistani Cricket that revived conventional legspin.

  • POSTED BY bustermove on | February 10, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    Wow. What a lovely piece of writing, full of subtlety and genuine heart like the great man's bowling. I hope Christian, that some of your cricket writing colleagues like Messers Roebuck, Boycott and others read this. Sometimes it seems that they are more interested in being the news rather than writing about it. I am also glad that those who have responded to the article have not let it descend into Qadir versus Warne-athon which has been known to happen in the past. They were both wonderful players whose impact on the game was vast. You bring honour to them both with the manner of your writing.

  • POSTED BY straight6 on | February 10, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Good stuff. Abdul Qadir has no way got the rocognition he should have got. He's a great human being and a good person to talk to, bacause he says he always played with passion and always put his country First. One question I asked him was about recognition and his contribution to his country, stuff like the six he hit against West Indies at Lahore, and winning the game in World Cup '87, the Faisalabad Test - Qadir bowled out West Indies for 56 in second Innings, himself taking 6 wickets and bowling with a broken finger. His face lit up with delight and he answered saying that he played for his country and that star on his shirt. He was proud to say that he's helped Anil Kumble and Shane Warne a lot, and infact Shane Warne was approaching him to work with him at his academy in Australia. It was also a great loss to see him go as Chairman O.S. I think he would have done a good job, because he still has that burning desire to do well for his country.

  • POSTED BY UdayP on | February 9, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    A really great read. Thanks. I can't remember watching Abdul Qadir but I do remember my dad talking about him in a really positive way. Reading what Abdul Qadir did for Douggie was by far the best bit. Wish there were more articles showing what cricketers do for us mere mortals.

  • POSTED BY ElectronSmoke on | February 9, 2010, 18:06 GMT

    Thanks for the article - a skilled bowler out-smarting a batsman is often one of the pleasures of watching cricket. Qadir single handedly kept the art of legspin alive in an era when pace was the fashionable thing to bowl.

  • POSTED BY nicklarter on | February 9, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    marvellous article - thank you very much!

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    Well, this is arguably the best article i have read on Cricinfo. The writer has expressed his ideas wonderfully making the readers see Qadir's flippers, leg spinners, gugglies, wrong un's, loopy wrong un's and so many other varieties. The article is as great as Qadir used to be in an era dominated by fast bowlers. I would have never forgiven me if I had missed this masterpiece about the Magician. Thanks Christian for creating such a classic. Perhaps i will have to wait for ages to find such a fine piece of writing on cricinfo. thanks again.

  • POSTED BY on | June 22, 2013, 18:10 GMT

    seen him live at bourda, georgetown guyana in 1988.i was 20 yrs old and wanting to play cricket for the west indies. imran stole the show with 11 wkts. but qadir was the only one who gave him support right through the series.his googly and flipper took care of phil simmons and richardson early on the final morning. his 7 overs for only 23 runs in the odi was great when everyone was beaten out of sight. well he got into trouble when he dished out a googly and a flipper at a troublesome spectator in barbados. istill remember this series as if it happened last year.

  • POSTED BY on | June 22, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    the eye, it was, and perhaps still is, in his eye - we were VERY fortunate to have him in the team - the true wizard champ - thanks for a great read

  • POSTED BY Sheri76 on | February 11, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    A very nice piece of writing... I believe i am one of the very few lucky readers here who has had the great opportunity of a lifetime, as leg spinner myself, to have been coached by the great ADBUL QADIR at the LCCA ground, outside Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium back in the hot summer of 1989. As a 14 year old at the time, Qadir taught me how to bowl a googly, leg spin, and the flipper! Still fresh in my memory was the test match at Faisalabad where he wrecked havoc against the Great West Indies and they were bowled out for 56. As a great Cricket lover, here i was, taking a master class from the man who took 7 wickets in the innings of that test match. And was a mystery for so many batsmen around the World. To me, what was so special about him was that he had the same hand grip on the ball for every single variation he had in his armoury. After the coaching session with Qadir, on the way back home i kept thinking to myself.... That is why he was so unique and why batsmen could'nt pick him.

  • POSTED BY pchats_2000 on | February 10, 2010, 14:28 GMT

    Firstly thank you for the sweet article. It leaves a smiole on your face and a tear in your eye. I had the honour of watching Abdul Quadir live. Everything he did was different. His run-up to bowl once inspired avery famous Indian Music Composer. While not getting into the Qadir vs Warne debate, I would only like to mention that it was this very quiet soldier for Pakistani Cricket that revived conventional legspin.

  • POSTED BY bustermove on | February 10, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    Wow. What a lovely piece of writing, full of subtlety and genuine heart like the great man's bowling. I hope Christian, that some of your cricket writing colleagues like Messers Roebuck, Boycott and others read this. Sometimes it seems that they are more interested in being the news rather than writing about it. I am also glad that those who have responded to the article have not let it descend into Qadir versus Warne-athon which has been known to happen in the past. They were both wonderful players whose impact on the game was vast. You bring honour to them both with the manner of your writing.

  • POSTED BY straight6 on | February 10, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Good stuff. Abdul Qadir has no way got the rocognition he should have got. He's a great human being and a good person to talk to, bacause he says he always played with passion and always put his country First. One question I asked him was about recognition and his contribution to his country, stuff like the six he hit against West Indies at Lahore, and winning the game in World Cup '87, the Faisalabad Test - Qadir bowled out West Indies for 56 in second Innings, himself taking 6 wickets and bowling with a broken finger. His face lit up with delight and he answered saying that he played for his country and that star on his shirt. He was proud to say that he's helped Anil Kumble and Shane Warne a lot, and infact Shane Warne was approaching him to work with him at his academy in Australia. It was also a great loss to see him go as Chairman O.S. I think he would have done a good job, because he still has that burning desire to do well for his country.

  • POSTED BY UdayP on | February 9, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    A really great read. Thanks. I can't remember watching Abdul Qadir but I do remember my dad talking about him in a really positive way. Reading what Abdul Qadir did for Douggie was by far the best bit. Wish there were more articles showing what cricketers do for us mere mortals.

  • POSTED BY ElectronSmoke on | February 9, 2010, 18:06 GMT

    Thanks for the article - a skilled bowler out-smarting a batsman is often one of the pleasures of watching cricket. Qadir single handedly kept the art of legspin alive in an era when pace was the fashionable thing to bowl.

  • POSTED BY nicklarter on | February 9, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    marvellous article - thank you very much!

  • POSTED BY zafar_tayyab on | February 9, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    As a supporter to Cricket Pakistan, as a fan of great Abdul, and as a Pakistani I thank you a lot for this article Mr Christian

  • POSTED BY choc56 on | February 9, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    What a beautifully written article about an absolutely remarkable man! More strength to your elbow Christian! Thank you!

  • POSTED BY DMH1 on | February 9, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    A really good story and brilliantly written. I haven't been so impressed with an article in a very long time. Congrats to Christian

  • POSTED BY WorldCup-pa on | February 9, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    Great Article which highlights something I have thought for years: "Why is it that Shane Warne is so highly overrated (e.g. one of 5 Wisden Cricketers of the century, "ball of the century" to mike gatting etc. Whilst Qadir is so easily forgotten. It is a little known fact that Warne NEVER took 5 wickets for St.Kilda in ANY grade - I used to give hm the benefit of the doubt thinking that district pitches were 'first day pitches' giving greater assistance to the quicks. But Abdul Qadir as a 43yo and took 5 wickets almost every week in just one season in Melbourne. Let's not forget that there has NEVER been a great TEST leg spinner who didn't have a great fast bowler at the other end. Qadir had Imran (and later Wasim), Warne had McGrath but when you see HOW these guys went about plying their trade, it's quite conceivable that Qadir could have taken 1000 wickets if he had played the number of test matches in the era of mediorcre Test batsmen and dodgy umpires that warne did.

  • POSTED BY seb101 on | February 9, 2010, 0:07 GMT

    Thank you. What a wonderful article about a piece of Qadir's history I had no idea about!

  • POSTED BY Bazi on | February 8, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    An excellent Cricket prose first of all. Unbelievable stuff. Qadir was a leg-spinning guru. I truly beileve that Qadir was even better than warney. But his era, setting and some bad luck prevented him from becoming just that.

    Im (well atleast was) one of their ilk myself. Qadir was my inspiration, though saw him bowl when was only a kid, and warney sealed the deal form me.

    Leg spin is a great art and Qadir was one of the greatest practitioner of the same!

  • POSTED BY sonofabdulqadir on | February 8, 2010, 21:30 GMT

    thank you for publishing this article. Qadir has been and most likely will forever be my favourite cricketer

    He was utterly beguiling in an era when fast bowling dominated and the legspinner was fast going the way of the dodo. Qadir carried single handidly the legspinners mantle from late seveties throughout the whole of the eighties. I was completely mesmerised when I first saw him in '82 when he toured England and forever after all I wanted to do was just to bowl like him. All the wonderful varieties of deliveries that to me was a world of beautiful deception and trickery. There really is not enough written about Abdul and for me he is still very much an underrated genius.

  • POSTED BY sgopalk on | February 8, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    Thanks for a wonderful article, very well written. I will always remember Qadir as the magician. (I have often tried imitating his bowling as a kid since it was so much fun and lively) . I remember some of the encounters between Kris Srikanth and Qadir in one day matches. Both of them possessed aggressive and attacking mentality and Qadir would flight the ball daring the batsmen to have a go and Srikanth would not take a step back either.

  • POSTED BY AndieRae606 on | February 8, 2010, 21:17 GMT

    I really enjoyed your article Christian. It also vividly describes the torture batsmen must have felt playing against one of the few true assassins of the great art. Few bowlers have frightened England batsmen as the West Indies pace quartet did, but Qadir terrified them single-handed.

  • POSTED BY joegas on | February 8, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    I really enjoyed this article; it is the best I have read here, and I have been coming to Cricinfo daily for years and years now. Thank you very much.

  • POSTED BY Rash77 on | February 8, 2010, 20:30 GMT

    Fantastic writing look forward to reading more from you

  • POSTED BY Sarbajeet on | February 8, 2010, 19:31 GMT

    Awesome, awesome article!

  • POSTED BY cric-crazy on | February 8, 2010, 19:18 GMT

    Nice article.

    It says how much he loved his game, and how humble he was. i can't believe he waited one hour, its just unbelieveable.

    I read in an article once that first thing Warne said when he arrived at Pakistan Airport, was to get an appointment with Qadir.

    There are few clips on youtube where you can watch him bowl.

    The sad thing about the pakistani cricket is, that no cricket legend has gone with the respect he deserves.(except Imran Khan, cuz he won WC). We can blame the politics, the captains, the form of player or the match fixing. But it is sad.

  • POSTED BY PlaySafeus on | February 8, 2010, 18:56 GMT

    I just cannot explain how beautifully you carved this master article. Excellent in content and character both. I am you long lasting reader now. Thanks for great insight.

  • POSTED BY SaleemHatoum on | February 8, 2010, 18:31 GMT

    I was 11 years when I watched Phil Edmonds, Iqbal Qasim and Abdul Qadir in action at Karachi's National Stadium. Qadir with his unique run-up and action by far was the most impressive. I also watched Qadir decimate Hughes's Aussies in 1982. Great article only suitable for a legend. Thanks Christian Ryan!

  • POSTED BY katochnr on | February 8, 2010, 17:58 GMT

    beautifully written article ..

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    Qadir was a very down to earth person and a real fighter. Apart from his bowling, he was often used as a pinch hitter, something that was rarely seen inthise days od ODI. One example was him hitting a six and a four and frustrating the Indians in the famous Miandad match of 1986!!!

  • POSTED BY sambitno1 on | February 8, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    A gentle man genius who will remain enigmatic but friendly. A great ambassador for his country and the game equally admired and feared world over in the cricket field.

  • POSTED BY gudolerhum on | February 8, 2010, 16:53 GMT

    I saw him bowl here in Barbados during a Test match. He was not appreciated as much by the crowd as he should have been as it was during the period when the WI team and supporters believed that they and only they could play cricket. They have come down a bit from that lofty perch. Qadir was great, much too good for most batsmen at any time. Well written article, much enjoyed. Thank you for sharing the memories. This is what makes cricket the wonderful experience that it is and always will be.

  • POSTED BY Jojy.John.Alphonso on | February 8, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    Best article Ive read in a while. Nice piece of history and great to know so much about this magnificent bowler.

  • POSTED BY cyborg909 on | February 8, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    This is incredible writting. Kudos for sharing man.

  • POSTED BY China786 on | February 8, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    Great article. I was there at that time and met Qadir in Brunswick. He is really a great person. I can tell you that he was completely opposite of Shoaib Akhtar or Glen McGrath. The story is told in excellent way. You really let us feel as if we were there and it all happened in front of our eyes. I can say for sure that it is one the best writings i have ever read on Cricinfo. Great work. A master piece. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • POSTED BY Junoonis on | February 8, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    amazing article , I've never seen Qadir bowling but only heard about it. This article really gave a visual experience of how good Qadir bowling was. Really good read.

  • POSTED BY ahassan on | February 8, 2010, 13:22 GMT

    Excellent article Christian. Qadir was definitely one of the greatest leg spinners ever produced in the game of crcket . He kept the art of leg spin alive when many people thought that it was a dying art mainly because almost all the countries had started relying on fast bowlers to win test matches. Imran was his greatest supporter during his Test career. Qadir thinks that Imran was responsible for the termination of his test career when he was dropped in favour of Mushtaq Ahmed, another Pakistani great leg spinner. In all fairness to Imran, Qadir was on the decline and Mushtaq was a better spinner than Qadir when he was inducted into Pakistan side.

    Ahassan

  • POSTED BY EjazMahmood on | February 8, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    A great article about a great cricketer. Its so refreshing to hear about such selfless characters in this era when the players are even sponsored for the drinks they drink. I think the modern cricket needs such role models. He was not only the best at what he did on the pitch but also a great ethical man. I think the world cricket and especially Pakistan cricket can gain a lot from his experiences. His son recently played for Pakistan's U19 world cup team. I hope he does well and follows the great footsteps of his father. Does anybody know about the story when Shane Warne came to see him and they practised googlies with oranges??? Im not sure about it but i read something about it somewhere a long time ago.

  • POSTED BY D.V.C. on | February 8, 2010, 12:41 GMT

    I really enjoyed this article.

  • POSTED BY gp-gp on | February 8, 2010, 12:37 GMT

    just to say that: (i) i read the article because i really enjoyed watching qadir bowl and was therefore curious (didn't know he had done so for a club team in australia, mind you); and (ii) i really enjoyed the piece - one of the most interesting and engaging pieces i've read for a while. thanks.

  • POSTED BY OakeyGuile on | February 8, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    Christian, mighty fine writing. Mustn't have been many left-handers playing district cricket that year. Guile.

  • POSTED BY Abbyz on | February 8, 2010, 12:01 GMT

    Wonderful article, the greatest leg spinner of all times. It was delightful, refreshing and nostalgic to read this article. The irony is that with all the corporate glitz around cricket there are very few moments of true craftsmanship around. After Wasim and Inzi there are even fewer in Pakistan cricket.

  • POSTED BY OakeyGuile on | February 8, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    Hey Arnie, this is so brilliant we'd like to put it on footyalmanac.com.au Best, Guile

  • POSTED BY osee_bhai on | February 8, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    beautiful article, I feel like I'm right there.

  • POSTED BY Big_Chikka on | February 8, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    Yes, good read and a lesson on what any player/professional should deliver to a club. Never surprises me to hear about Qadir and his ways. Cricket fields are a much better place with characters like Qadir. Thanks for reminding us of what we are missing.

  • POSTED BY deucelow on | February 8, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Slide a copy to Roebuck so he can get a clue on how to write an article...a brilliant brilliant piece.

  • POSTED BY ww113 on | February 8, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    Abdul Qadir could have gone on for a few more years when he was dropped in favour of Mushtaq Ahmed.He never got over it,saying that Mushtaq was "the disciple of his disciples." I remember many occasions when he bowled on and on and on.Imran Khan never took him off.Notably this happened in England in 1982 and in Australia in 1983-84.It was frustrating,he didn't get too many wickets after bowling marathon spells on these tours.My favourite memory of Qadir is when he and Imran bowled out the all conquering West Indies side in 1986 in Faisalabad,for less than 50.It was among Pakistan's greatest victories.

  • POSTED BY huss26 on | February 8, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    Great story, one that has been written beautifuly!

  • POSTED BY playdumb on | February 8, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    Fantastic write-up. Great start to my work week ;-) Too much is written about big game cricket while the best personalities and stories are found at the local club level. Qadir, the one could bowl the wrong 'un, is the on e who has been wronged the most.

  • POSTED BY arightbender on | February 8, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    Great article. (loved the Kim Hughes book).

    They dont make them like Qadir anymore, what a pro!.

    Nice story about Douggie.

  • POSTED BY Kunal-Talgeri on | February 8, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    Bless you, CR! This is a great article, written like a fine tragedy with a sense of redemption towards the end. Subjects (for cricket-writing) seem to be truly alive in the lower tiers of cricket, especially after international-cricket has wholly become the preserve of corporates. Fine writing, mate!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    A great article Ryan.I just love that stuff.You have written it very well. Hats off to both writer and Qadir.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2010, 8:17 GMT

    QADIR IS GR8....his son is too brilliant ....

  • POSTED BY victortrumpet on | February 8, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    This is the best article I've read in Cricinfo. It enlivens the local scene when a foreign champion can play overseas, whether it's Australia, England or India. Except of course...great Pakistani players don't get to play in India anymore...

  • POSTED BY richard-munir on | February 8, 2010, 7:41 GMT

    JUST great man, it's so enjoyable to read this story of legend of leg spin bowling Abdul Qadir playing with club cricketers and never letting them feel that they are so big. it shows that the man who took 9 wickets in a test innings is still so down to earth that he can give his lunch time on very hot day just to tell some one who want to know how to bowl the wrong'un, it's so lovely to know that peoples inspire others to do bigger things. THANK YOU CHRISTIAN for writing the story of great Pakistani bowler and wonderful person. indeed we all need to be humble and help each others the way we see in this story how helpful ABDUL QADIR was to other fellows cricketers.

  • POSTED BY nawwabsahab on | February 8, 2010, 7:41 GMT

    fantastick piece...well written and contains all the emotions. make us proud of our wonder spinner...havent seen such googlies since him...a true "spinner"...what a treat to read it..way a fine way to praise a legend.

  • POSTED BY babla_NY on | February 8, 2010, 7:34 GMT

    wow!!!!! what a story about great ABDUL QADIR!!!!! THANKS CRISTIAN.ITS TOUCED MY HEART. MY CHILDHOOD HERO. KING OF LEG BREAK GOOGLY. SALUTE YOU ABDUL QADIR.

  • POSTED BY sameeullah on | February 8, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    hey nice column and well written. when i see the cricketer of current era and that era i find that previous era players were hard working and dedicated.in current era may one u will find few players who are hard working.

  • POSTED BY Roamer on | February 8, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    One of the very articles in the recent past that are really worth commending. I wish we could see some videos of this maestro (Abdul Qadir).

  • POSTED BY J_Jay on | February 8, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    Wow. Thanks Chris for writing this masterpiece on this great. The bloke is a genius among greats of the game. Loved every detail of your piece.

  • POSTED BY Moin.Pasha on | February 8, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    Great article.

    We need more people like Qadir.

    Please keep on the good work

  • POSTED BY Strikers on | February 8, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    I completely concur with Adityeah. A lot of us just ridicule Qadir for 'our' best to 'their' best! This gives us a whole new perspective. And extremely well-articulated too. Thanks!

  • POSTED BY schizad1 on | February 8, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    Mr. Ryan I would like 2 really thank u in fact THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for this article. Qadir is one of many great cricketers of our country whom we could not do justice to. Atleast there is someone who remembers him and made us aware of not his genius but his humane nature and his passion for the game. Once again THANK YOU

  • POSTED BY kirangautam354 on | February 8, 2010, 6:28 GMT

    A gr8 article, little help from their ex players such as Qadir is urgently needed for team Pakistan

  • POSTED BY vatsap on | February 8, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    Qadir was popular in the sub-continent and he had his admirers. Imran Khan also used him very well. But "If" he was in Australia he could have probably made it even bigger. The way the Aussies supported Shane Warne and later on Stuey Macgill. Lovely story.

  • POSTED BY dmudge on | February 8, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    thanks for writing that, great story.

  • POSTED BY kgkg on | February 8, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    beatifully wirtten, heartwarming story about a determined and loving man. this is pulitzer material. I'm indian but after chandrashekhar, legspinners from any and all laces are special. tells a lot about the man. patient, determined, generous, and just resilient as you'll ever find a bowler to be. the younger generation should learnin comething. Giftedness may be a necessary condition for success but it takes a lot more to be great.

  • POSTED BY AB99 on | February 8, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    Abdul Qadir is the BEST leg spinner and he brought the art as a fashion statement. Pity that his worth is not given its due. For me is the best of the lot since him.

  • POSTED BY Adityeah on | February 8, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    Super stuff. I think it was important that this story be told. A lot of us have only heard of Tendulkar's treatment to Qadir but of course, there was much more to this legend. Thank you for putting this here. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2010, 3:35 GMT

    What a beautiful story, and how well written! Man, if only the Pakistani selectors were more clear - headed, they wouldn't have lost so many cricketers who were still going good! Well written, Christian, it was almost as if you were there! Great job and hope to read more from you!

  • POSTED BY CricCionado on | February 8, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    Enthralling! That is what I can say after reading this article. I was not even born when Qadir set the aura for the leg spinning. This article just makes me realize how beautiful the art of spin bowling is and how good those magicians can be. Thanks for the article. Really loved it!

  • POSTED BY PJG123 on | February 8, 2010, 3:16 GMT

    Hi Christian,

    A wonderful tale....there are so many of these tales of sub-continent cricketers plying their trade in (at least) Victoria at all levels down to the lowest park cricket, although I suspect none of them are as good as Qadir. They add so much to the culture and cricket seasons.

  • POSTED BY suhaibj on | February 8, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    Oh wow.. this article is so beautifully written ! The writing skill totally complements Abdul Qadir's genius. I thak you for introducing a great to us!

  • POSTED BY AnilMaskey on | February 8, 2010, 2:20 GMT

    A great, heart warming article. Ryan's best one.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY AnilMaskey on | February 8, 2010, 2:20 GMT

    A great, heart warming article. Ryan's best one.

  • POSTED BY suhaibj on | February 8, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    Oh wow.. this article is so beautifully written ! The writing skill totally complements Abdul Qadir's genius. I thak you for introducing a great to us!

  • POSTED BY PJG123 on | February 8, 2010, 3:16 GMT

    Hi Christian,

    A wonderful tale....there are so many of these tales of sub-continent cricketers plying their trade in (at least) Victoria at all levels down to the lowest park cricket, although I suspect none of them are as good as Qadir. They add so much to the culture and cricket seasons.

  • POSTED BY CricCionado on | February 8, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    Enthralling! That is what I can say after reading this article. I was not even born when Qadir set the aura for the leg spinning. This article just makes me realize how beautiful the art of spin bowling is and how good those magicians can be. Thanks for the article. Really loved it!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2010, 3:35 GMT

    What a beautiful story, and how well written! Man, if only the Pakistani selectors were more clear - headed, they wouldn't have lost so many cricketers who were still going good! Well written, Christian, it was almost as if you were there! Great job and hope to read more from you!

  • POSTED BY Adityeah on | February 8, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    Super stuff. I think it was important that this story be told. A lot of us have only heard of Tendulkar's treatment to Qadir but of course, there was much more to this legend. Thank you for putting this here. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

  • POSTED BY AB99 on | February 8, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    Abdul Qadir is the BEST leg spinner and he brought the art as a fashion statement. Pity that his worth is not given its due. For me is the best of the lot since him.

  • POSTED BY kgkg on | February 8, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    beatifully wirtten, heartwarming story about a determined and loving man. this is pulitzer material. I'm indian but after chandrashekhar, legspinners from any and all laces are special. tells a lot about the man. patient, determined, generous, and just resilient as you'll ever find a bowler to be. the younger generation should learnin comething. Giftedness may be a necessary condition for success but it takes a lot more to be great.

  • POSTED BY dmudge on | February 8, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    thanks for writing that, great story.

  • POSTED BY vatsap on | February 8, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    Qadir was popular in the sub-continent and he had his admirers. Imran Khan also used him very well. But "If" he was in Australia he could have probably made it even bigger. The way the Aussies supported Shane Warne and later on Stuey Macgill. Lovely story.