|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
He led a perennially fractious team to fulfill the aspirations of a nation
October 3, 2010
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 2003Feeds: Kamran Abbasi
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss Ricky Ponting's technique
Allrounder Calum MacLeod's return from a faulty action is key to Scotland's World Cup hopes. By Tim Wigmore
From lead spinner and No. 8, Steven Smith has become a central figure in the batting line-up. By Brydon Coverdale
My XI: Erapalli Prasanna on the West Indian offspinner who had a killer instinct
Jon Hotten: Major sports are driving their competitors towards homogenous physical ideals, but cricket seems to celebrate diversity
Also, most brothers in a Test XI, and the fastest to 20 ODI centuries
The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams
Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin
Out of 70 batsmen who've scored 15 or more Test hundreds only five are from Pakistan, but Younis Khan's appetite for hundreds matches that of some of the top contemporary batsmen
Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing
The offspinner was Australia's highest wicket-taker in 2013, but his form has dipped sharply this year
When a team loses its best bowler, it is expected that the team's performance will suffer. As usual, Pakistan defied the expectations