Events and people that shaped the game

No. 31

Imran Khan's captaincy

He led a perennially fractious team to fulfill the aspirations of a nation

Kamran Abbasi

October 3, 2010

Text size: A | A

Imran Khan portrait, April 28, 1987
Imran Khan started as a first-change bowler and left as a legend © PA Photos
Enlarge
Related Links
My Favourite Cricketer : The flawed, the fabulous
Interviews : 'The more the pressure, the stronger I got'
Players/Officials: Imran Khan
Teams: Pakistan

1982-1992

Few men can transform the fortunes of an international cricket team. Rarer still are those who revolutionise the aspirations of the whole nation. Imran Khan achieved both. His political ambitions and glamorous marriage, his cancer hospital and his cricket academies notwithstanding, it is the memories of Imran the cricketer that remain the clearest.

Hailing from a family of great cricketing pedigree - his cousins Javed Burki and Majid Khan both captained Pakistan - and picked for Pakistan while still at university in Oxford, Imran began Test cricket as a first-change bowler and lower-order batsman, and left it as one of the game's legends. His was also the age of Kapil, Botham and Hadlee, but Imran was on par with all these players and the most successful of all of them at captaincy.

Imran managed to gain the respect of the perennially fractious Pakistani team - when made captain in 1982 his side had three former captains and three former vice-captains. He lifted the side into playing as a unit and jettisoned the ultra-defensive mindset of previous Pakistani captains. He picked players out of nets (Tauseef Ahmed) or lifted them from 17-year layoffs from Test cricket (Younis Ahmed). However autocratic his methods, they usually worked.

Imran's career reached the sweetest of all finales when he led Pakistan to victory in the World Cup of 1992. It was testament to how he had transformed the Pakistan team from a procession of soloists into an orchestra, perhaps for the only period in its history.

Kamran Abbasi is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

RSS Feeds: Kamran Abbasi

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Kamran AbbasiClose
Kamran Abbasi Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

    Ronchi's blitz, and remarkable ODI recoveries

Ask Steven: Also, the fastest ODI 150s, and the highest Test totals without a half-century

    Penalty runs the best punishment for slow over rates

Ashley Mallett: Fines and suspensions have had no effect. Awarding the opposition runs for every over a team falls short in a Test innings will definitely bite harder

    Pietersen stars in his own muppet show

David Hopps: KP's rubbishing of many aspiring English county professionals brings to mind the belief of Miss Piggy that "there is no one in the world to compare with moi"

    How to construct an ODI chase

Michael Bevan: Focus on targets smaller than winning the match, and back your tailenders to deliver for you

The many crickets of an Indian boyhood

Sankaran Krishna: Growing up in India, you play a number of varieties of the game, each developing a certain skill

News | Features Last 7 days

Kohli at No. 4 - defensive or practical?

It seems Virat Kohli is to not bat before the 12th or 13th over to strengthen the middle and the lower middle order. It suggests a lack of confidence in what was supposed to be India's strength in their title defence: their batting

Open with Rohit and Binny, with Kohli at No. 3

India's batting is going the way of their bowling in Australia, and they need get their order sorted before the World Cup

Off-stump blues leave Dhawan flailing

The out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan still has the backing of his captain, but there's no denying his slump has arrived at an inconvenient time for India and his technical issues have to be sorted out before they attempt to defend the World Cup

On TV it looks uglier than it actually is

Often reasonable arguments on the field look nasty beyond the boundary and on camera

'Teams can't have set formula' - Dravid

In the first episode of Contenders, a special ten-part buildup to the 2015 World Cup, Rahul Dravid and Graeme Smith discuss the impact of local conditions on team compositions and the issues surrounding the format of the tournament

News | Features Last 7 days