|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.
Former New Zealand coach John Bracewell talks man management, county v country, and the evolution of the game
Ask Steven: Also, the highest scores by wicketkeepers, and the most ODI fifties without a hundred
My Favourite Cricket Story: Martin Crowe remembers batting with a man who had his score written on his bat
Modern Masters: Many of his tons have been match-defining and his ability to score them quickly has boosted England's chances
Beige Brigade: The boys discuss Cook and Swann, and Richie Benaud's lounge. Plus, the Mystery Man song
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Graeme Pollock has been among the top three finest players his country ever produced; and not far off that pace in the world rankings either
The sequence of recent stuttering starts in ODIs, with the middle and lower orders picking up the pieces, does not bode well