Saad Shafqat
Saad Shafqat Saad ShafqatRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
Writer based in Karachi

A perfect storm of a man

Imran Khan, now 60, was as complete a cricketer as one could be, but excelling in one field (or even two) wasn't enough for him

Saad Shafqat

December 1, 2012

Comments: 67 | Text size: A | A

Imran Khan portrait, April 28, 1987
Imran Khan: cricketing royalty © PA Photos
Related Links
Ashley Mallett : Five to do it all
Reviews : How a cricket hero went political
Turning Points : Imran Khan's captaincy
My Favourite Cricketer : The flawed, the fabulous
Players/Officials: Imran Khan
Teams: Pakistan

Nobody's a perfect cricketer, but even his rivals will probably agree that Imran Khan comes pretty close. There's no question he is Pakistan's greatest-ever player, but even that description is an understatement. In fact, he has been world-class in batting, bowling, fielding and captaincy. Even among the game's absolute elite, hardly anyone can make that claim.

Nor did he slow down after retiring from cricket. It would have been entirely natural for him to climb into a comfortable zone of exalted reverence, but he gave that a pass. Instead, he single-handedly founded a philanthropic cancer hospital in Lahore in the memory of his late mother that has become one of Pakistan's premier medical institutes. Now, having just turned 60, he heads a political party that appears poised to emerge with influence in the country's next general election.

The passage of years has made it clear that Imran is really one perfect storm of a man in whom multiple natural gifts - ability, ambition, drive, personality, looks, physique, and pedigree - have come together spectacularly. He was born with advantages and he has gone on to make the most of them.

His family background (Lahore aristocracy) and schooling (Aitchison College, Pakistan's Eton) are as good as it gets in this part of the world. Then there is his unparalleled cricket education, starting from the family compound in Lahore's Zaman Park under the watchful eyes of Majid Khan and Javed Burki, going on to Oxford University, domestic seasons in England and Australia, Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, an old-fashioned apprenticeship in reverse swing with Sarfraz Nawaz, and a complex partnership in battlefield tactics with Javed Miandad.

People say that if Imran succeeds in becoming a statesman, he will have achieved more than any other cricketer. Yet what he has achieved already - setting the philanthropy and politics aside - is quite incredible. As a bowler, his Test average, economy, and strike rate are all better than Wasim Akram's, which is a huge statement when you consider that for two years in his prime, Imran had to sit out with a stress fracture of the shin. And though his career Test batting average is only in the high 30s, it jumps to 52.34 in his 48 Tests as captain; astonishingly this is higher than the corresponding figure for Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Clive Lloyd, Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Len Hutton, and yes, even Miandad.

His fielding never gets talked about because it has been diluted by so much else, but Imran was an excellent outfielder - an extremely safe pair of hands both in catching and ground-fielding, and possessing a near-perfect arm from the boundary. He exercised tirelessly and his body language was always attentive and athletic. He might have adopted a regal air after becoming captain, but his commitment in the field was never diminished.

Imran is almost as old as Pakistan's Test history, which makes it rather fitting that he should be the man to have so fundamentally altered its course

Then there is the matter of captaincy. Imran is almost as old as Pakistan's Test history, which makes it rather fitting that he should be the man to have so fundamentally altered its course. His captaincy was born in turbulence, arising from the dust of the infamous 1981 rebellion against Miandad. Yet once he was in charge, there was no looking back. He led by example, commanding respect, demanding unflinching dedication, and keeping merit and performance supreme. The team became united and laurels soon piled up: a fortress-like record at home, inaugural series wins in India and England, an unforgettable showdown in the West Indies, and the World Cup of 1992 - by any standards, a golden era. Pakistan's cricketing mindset was revolutionised.

Imran's entry into politics has complicated his hallowed status as a cricketing icon. Nowadays, whenever he is mentioned in a current-affairs context in the international press, the term is "cricketer-turned-politician". Choosing one identity over the other is no longer possible, because with Imran's continued evolution both have acquired equal importance. To the generation of cricket romantics and diehards who grew up watching and worshipping Imran - and I would place my boyhood friends and myself very much in that demographic - this feels like something of an intrusion.

Yes, the economy needs to be fixed; health, education, and unemployment need to be tackled; the foreign policy has to be sorted out; law and order have to be secured; and peace and prosperity must be ushered in. Yes, there is all that, of course. But what about the devastating spell of reverse swing on that breezy Karachi afternoon, those 12 wickets in Sydney that spawned a dynasty, that dogged defence, those towering sixes, that enthralling leap at the bowling crease, that quiet air of authority and command in the field? The space for reliving those pleasures is shrinking.

As a cricket fan, you expect your idols to be entirely defined by cricket, but Imran is an idol for whom the game is but one of his endeavours. That disorients the cricket lover's mind and calls for an emotional adjustment. Nevertheless, this is not any cause for concern or complaint, because the trajectory of Imran's life is really best seen as a compliment to the game. He was already a phenomenally successful cricketer and cricket leader. What else do you aim for next but the office of prime minister?

Initially politics proved a sticky wicket. For several years after founding his party, in 1996, Imran laboured on the margins of Pakistan's political theatre. He struggled to find a voice in the national conversation, and kept getting dismissed as an amateur naïvely trying to extrapolate the success he had had in cricket and through his cancer institute. Yet here too, Imran's persistence has paid off. His message of transformative change and clean governance is resonating throughout Pakistan, and his party has attracted a substantial following. Most observers expect him to be a key player in any coalition that emerges from next year's national polls.

The most noticeable consequence of Imran's political rise is that his critics have multiplied. He is accused of being a hypocrite who espouses conservative Islamic values after having lived the life of a playboy. He is derided for offering to negotiate with militant extremists. He is mocked for being stubborn and inflexible. Every now and then, his failed marriage to a British heiress is also raked up. Even his cricketing achievements are questioned, with people labelling him a dictatorial captain whose departure left the team in a tailspin. Pakistan may be a nascent democracy but it is still a vocal one.

Despite all the noise and clatter, Imran is quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) steaming ahead. If you take a panoramic view of his life and career, the quality that most dominates is focus and single-mindedness in the service of a lofty goal. It seems that for the right cause, he could almost move mountains through sheer force of will. Even his detractors always stop short of questioning his intent and resolve. Ultimately it is this clarity of purpose and Imran's seemingly limitless capacity for challenge and endurance that have taken him so high and so far.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

RSS Feeds: Saad Shafqat

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

if i have to choose 3 best cricketer of all time it wil be bradman sobers and inran, the way he played against westindies in 80's both as a player and as a captain was of highest order he made pakistab belive that they can win against westindies which they nearly did and then put belive in his team that they can win worlr cup which they won, he is the most impactfull captain i have ever seen

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

Waseem ; no doubt was a better bowler . Yet , an all round over view will reckon the fact that Imran was definitely a better player . You see , there is a difference between a better player and a better bowler or batsman . And here we are talking about not only cricket , we are talking about cricket and politics both . So I would say it is a wrong comparison ,that of Imran and Waseem . Imran rang the bell when his motrher died and he reacted in a very decent manner. Some would say that perhaps that was a glimpse of Western Utilitarianism I would say no . IT was sheer pain that made him resolve that I would fight for a cause . And there he was . Not very well equipped for a gigantic task he needed much more as mere aristocracy was not enough . I know Lahore and the classes in Lalore as I too belong to Lahore , though not lucky enough to be called a Lahorite as I never lived here . Yet ; I am familiar with the set up. Imran is not only a Lahori aristocrat heS is a Pathan also . [Naghmana

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 9:18 GMT)

Imran Khan will be the cricketer who will achieve the most of any former cricketer. The man is simply amazing. Although I am an Indian, Imran Khan is my inspirational hero. I look up to him, and every word he says is a lesson I want to follow to the last word. I salute his resolve, and his never say die attitude. Even his mistakes of life you can learn from. I have followed him right after 1992, and I have learnt a lot from his grit, determination & fight to the last ball spirit. I love him more than Sachin Tendulkar. Pakistan should be proud.

Posted by VivtheGreatest on (December 3, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

Totally disagree with KiwiRocker, Wasim Akram is by far the best fast bowler Pakistan has produced in terms of sheer skill. He could literally make the ball talk. With Imran and Waqar u always knew what was coming, 90% of the time it was the inswinging banana yorker. Of course being able to play it was an entirely different matter!!! But neither of them had the sheer variety of Akram. A true artist with the ball. He along with Shane Warne were probably the two most naturally gifted bowlers of the last 25 years

Posted by sirviv on (December 2, 2012, 18:03 GMT)

wish Pak had someone like this today to lead their players back to the glory of 92

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 16:16 GMT)

What has changed from Imran's era to now? 1.Neutral Umpiring,professional umpiring,match referees and t.v referrals. 2.The ball which swings less than before by common consensus. 3.Wickets are generaly easier than the 80's/90's 4.More teams-Immy didn't have South Africa and S.L were very weak in his time. 5.More formats of cricket with 20/20. 6.Fitter teams 7.Higher intensity cricket 8.Better fielding. 9.No more awful tailend batsmen. 10.Longer batting line-ups. 11.Heavier bats,stronger batsmen and faster scoring. 12.Batters can play reverse swing far better than Imran's era since its not a mystery. 13.Demise of the Windies but emergence of much stronger English,Aussie,S.A and Indian teams than in Imran's time. 14.The allround role of the keeper as a frontline batter.

Point being it is futile to compare different allrounders.All one can say is that Imran,Sobers,Kallis,Botham,Hadlee,Kapil.Rice,Proccie,Mankad,Miller and Benaud,etc were(are) magnificent cricketers and ambassadors.

Posted by Desihungama on (December 2, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

@Meety - Very gracious comments. Cannot add more to what you have said. I am lucky enough to share his Alma Mater and have met the man on couple of occasions. One of those personalities that carry an aura around them and I understood how the fielders must have felt around him in the ground:0. But I would also highlight his greatest flaw of being unfair to Qasim Umar (as someone else also pointed out) primarily due to his background. Pakistan could have done better with Qasim Umar. When he was in Aitchison College he hardly played cricket. He was in fact the Captain of their hockey team. The man was in the making to be the leader he has become.

Posted by remnant on (December 2, 2012, 11:24 GMT)

@kiwirocker, Bradman scored runs against South Africa also in quite a few series where if you look at the stats, its his Bradmanseque scores alone that seperate the two sides. Not taking away anything from Imran, but the conditions such as uncovered pitches, 1930s protective gear with no helmets, and a stacked legside field with Bodyline intimidatory bowling, at 90+miles and still getting a hundred in that series with an overall avg of 56 in that series does qualify as testing conditions. Imran's greatness doesn't need to be enhanced by downsizing the truly greatest batsman of all time!

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 2, 2012, 11:13 GMT)

KiwiRocker, you're not quite right there. Imran always struggled to assert himself against PCB nobodies and cliques within the team, and when he regained the captaincy in 1986 after two years struggling with a stress fracture he basically got rid of high-maintenance players like Qasim Omar and filled the squad (the reserves) with tribally-aligned people like Zakir Khan. The problem was that Omar was actually the best player of fast bowling (as he showed in Australia in 83-84) and he was the missing link in the West Indies in 1988. This left Miandad to face the might of the Windies with only the keeper Yousuf for serious support. And forget the talk of dodgy umpiring in the Caribbean: it was like that everywhere in those days, and other teams faced it in Pakistan. Omar wasn't the only prematurely discarded great player of fast bowling: Wasim Raja was Imran's contemporary, averaged 57 v Windies - and wasn't picked in any of the 9 Tests Imran captained against them. Missed opportunity!

Posted by harshthakor on (December 2, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

I can never forget Imran's superlative bowling efforts at Sydney in 1976-77,in Karachi in 1982 against India and at Leeds in 1987.Imran simply displayed the heart and ferocity of a lion.He strode on the field like a Greek God exuding fire.I will also remember his match-saving century versus West Indies in 1980 and his batting in 1982 in England and 1987 in India.

Above all his inspiring leadership to revive Pakistan to win the 1992 world cup who were virtually ressurected from the grave will be written in the annal of the game forever.His comeback in 1987 to lift Pakistan to the top of world cricket is also unforgettable.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 2, 2012, 9:49 GMT)

LillianThomson: Your comments lack research and are based on fiction. While, it is true that Qasim Umer was banned, however, it had nothing to do with control of Imran Khan. Qasim Umer was a wonderfully gifted batsmen. I was very young but have glimpses of his batting. Qasim Umer violated code of conduct and you do not know the full story. Imran Khan actually brought back likes of Younis Ahmad from complete Obscurity to provide them a chance. Sadly Younis Ahmad blew his chance too and did fall in a trap that many Pakistanis do on Indian tours ( late night partying). Imran Khan was an astute, assesrtive leader and that involved making difficult decisions and sadly Qasim Umer's one was one of those decisions. Imran Khan was able to control likes of Javed Miandad in the dressing room so surely he had player's control. The West Indies Series of 1988 was a Pakistan victory. Umpiring in third test was so bad that it paved way for neutral umpires. It was one of worse umpiring in history!

Posted by harshthakor on (December 2, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

Equivalent of a Muhammad Ali to cricket.Imran Khan was in his peak the best alllrounder in the world and the best captain.No cricketer was as charismatic as Imran in the 1980's and he shaped the destiny of his nation more than any cricketer of his era.Arguably,he is the best cricketer after Bradman,Sobers and Grace joining the likes of Tendulkar ,Hobbs or Viv Richards.With Viv Richards Imran was the best match-winner after Sobers.Imran led Pakistan with the skill of a great military commander. to lead his team to becoming the joint unofficial world champions of test cricket in 1988 and the world cup champion sin 1992.

Imran would rank amongst the top 5-6 paceman of all time and as an all-rounder arguably 2nd only to Gary Sobers.His best performance to me was in the 1982 series in England when he took 21 wickets at 18 runs and scored 318 runs at an average of 53.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

Stylish, skillful, thoughtful, hard worker personality he is. What he did with Pakistani cricket is remarkable. What a great leader.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 6:21 GMT)

He was a great cricketer Lion from Pakistan

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 3:12 GMT)

Very well written article.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 2, 2012, 2:37 GMT)

Meety: I agree and also disagree with your comments. I agree that Imran Khan was the most influential cricketer in the game, but I disagree that WG Grace was another one. WG Grace is just a folk hero who has been made to look more than what he was. Similarly, Bradman scored some easy runs against one dimentional English attachs and is touted as a great. Likes of Tendulya and so on are a joke anyway. Imran Khan won matches. He played with a distinction. I shall rate Imran Khan , Sir Viv Richards and Gary Sobers as the most influential cricketers. If you want to define a complete cricketer who could bat, bowl and field and if needed could also show leadership then Imran Khan has no comparison. J.Kallis is as good as Imran ( even better in batting) but never was tested as a leader. Same applies to Sobers. Imran Khan did everything that a cricketer should do except wicketkeeping! He along with Sir Viv Richards had that respect and command that no other cricketer did!

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 2, 2012, 2:31 GMT)

It is disappoint to see comments comparing Imran Khan's bowling to Wasim Akram. While, Wasim was a bowler of great skills and being a left hander made him look naturally attractive and provided an inherit edge, Imran Khan was far a superior bowler than Wasim Akram on any day. Wasim himself knows that and confirms that so there is no point arguing about that. Wasim played on more responsive pitches and in a more modern era of cricket where batsmen were technically weaker than the lot Imran bowled to. Apart from likes of Lara, Ponting, Kallis and Dravid etc, I hardly see any batsmen of note during Wasim's time. Imran Khan had to bowl likes of Viv Richards, Chappels, Gavaskar and so on. Imran Khan had the best in dipper.One should search on you tube his 200th wicket where he clean bowled Vishwanath. Bowl swung from outside leg and Vishwanath was stunned. Imran Khan had superior bowling average and strike rate than likes of Wasim. Only bowler closer to Imran was Waqar Younis! Not Wasim!

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 2, 2012, 2:21 GMT)

Imran was a wonderful captain and all-rounder, but his flawed personality cost Pakistan dearly. If he'd been able to keep the batsman Qasim Omar on board they would have won in the West Indies in 87-88 and been crowned world champions. But Imran threw his second best batsman overboard because he couldn't control him, and the seeds were sewn for Pakistan to be stuck as the world's second best team from 1986-99, which created the context for the fixers to do their business.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

Great article...made me cry...greatest allrounder the game has ever seen .... :(

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (December 1, 2012, 23:04 GMT)

Imran Khan will go down in the history as one of the greatest captains and all_rounders. Nobody in cricket retired with such a big bang as Imran did - as captain of a World Cup winning team. Tendulkar had a similar opportunity in 2011, but he blew it. Plus Tendulkar could never be even an average captain, forget about being a leader of the stature of Imran Khan.

Posted by OptimusPrimal on (December 1, 2012, 21:10 GMT)

A great read. It's good to see articles like this from time to time in an era where Pakistan cricket is nothing but controversies.

p.s. I didn't know Mr. Shafqat was such a qualified person. Good to see that Pakistanis love their cricket no matter what background they are from.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 18:48 GMT)

Imran Khan is truly someone Pakistan can be proud of. Let's hope we elect him.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 18:23 GMT)

There wouldnt be another IK. Gods special gift for Pakistan.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 17:39 GMT)

I rated Miandad as the best cricketer Pakistan produced based on his cricket acumen. Imran was always the second. I have completely changed my mind after seeing him speak and his personal integrity as a human being while in his role as a politician. He is the best!

Posted by Shaynej on (December 1, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

A great champion, a true Tiger. Devotees of Hanif Mohammed and Miandad can rave all they want, but he was the greatest of them all.

Pakistani cricket has only 2 eras.... BI (Before Imran) and AI (After Imran) !!

Posted by RoshanF on (December 1, 2012, 16:33 GMT)

Very appropriate and interesting article on surely the most commanding all round cricketer of all time. What a figure he cut both on and off the field. Sure gave me goosbumps when a few years ago he was introduced at a business conference as teh keynote speaker, following some wonderful moments from his greatest triumph at the 92' World Cup. EASILY Asia's greatest ever cricketer. He was the best of the marvellous foursome all rounders of the 80s above Botham, Kapil and Hadlee.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 16:00 GMT)

Perfect Article On An Almost-Perfect Cricketer. He Is One Of The Five Greatest Cricketers Of All Time, Probably The Third After Gary Sobers And Don Bradman, But If You Consider His Captaincy Skills, He Could As Well Be The Greatest Cricketer Of All Time. Of Course, Nobody, Among Those Great Cricketers, Has His Charisma And Charm. And If Few Cricketers Have Contributed As Cricketers, Nobody Has Contributed As Much To The Other Causes Of The Country Beyond Cricket. He Is Not Only One Of The Greatest Cricketers Of All Time As Described In This Piece (, But One Of The Greatest Sportsperson Of All Time. Cricinfo Profile Start By Saying He Is The Greatest Cricketer Pakistan Has Produced, That Is Total Underestimation Of This Great Cricketers, He Should Be At Least Described As One Of The Greatest Cricketer The World Has Seen And The Greatest Asian Cricketers. Kudos To Saad Shafaqat. His Piece On Miandad Was As Absorbing.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 15:46 GMT)

What a man! He is excellence personified. A perfect role model for cricketers to follow. Not only that, he is the man who has questioned the forces of status quo and provided people of Pakistan with a viable political alternative. Whether he succeed in the elections or not but his very presence has significantly influenced the policy dialogue in the political circles of Pakistan. He is a proud Pakistani. May God bless him!

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

He is the best all rounder ever ...

Posted by smalishah84 on (December 1, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

I hope Imran can bring his leadership qualities to the Prime Minister office. They are much needed there.

Posted by Anwar.ul.Haq.Sandhu on (December 1, 2012, 14:15 GMT)

for last 10 years of his career... batting average 50+, bowling average below 20.....

What a cricketer.... What an all-rounder.... What a Captain... What a personality.... What charisma!!

Posted by Meety on (December 1, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

@Saad Shafqat - recently on another blog, I picked my all time XI. I selected Imran Khan @ #6 & added the (c) next to his name. As an Ozzy, I rate him as the most influential cricketer in my life time & possibly 2nd only WG Grace. Time has made me appreciate the man more, that said I always admired him. He is possibly my favourite cricketer of all time, definately my most favourite non-ozzy. I have to say though, when you said "...that quiet air of authority and command in the field..." - I have to disagree. I often saw Imran give an absolute gobful to players who fielded badly. It was common to see a fielder deliberately not look in Imran's direction if they made an error in the field - his presence was certainly large on the cricket field. I would love to see him become the President of Pakistan, he has some views that differ significantly from what I would imagine would be the way to go, but I see a simple logic in his thoughts that should be headed by the "West"!

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

He stands tall among the elites!

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

Dr. Saad Shafqat (MBBS), a graduate of Aga Khan University, then went on to do his PhD in Neurosciences from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, followed by his residency and fellowship in Neurology from Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard University. He is currently the head of Department of Neurology at Aga Khan University Hospital.

Posted by vik56in on (December 1, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

Agreed with the article ,except the part where the comparison with Wasim Akram goes.As a bowler Akram is superior in terms of skill than Imran !

Posted by PhaniBhaskar24 on (December 1, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

Imran - Crickter turned Politician, who is swimming his way in politics these days like the way he Created his mark in Cricket. Now, how about Tendulkar - "Crickter Turned Politcian"

Posted by Afridian on (December 1, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

Absolutely wnderful read about a wonderful man! Awesome job Sadd Shafqat. Its a treat for cricket lovers all over the world and Pakistanis especially! Thank you :)

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

IK among the greats he wrote the history in his own style

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

Very well said Imran Khan he is man of honor and most respectable person in whole Pakistan the people of Pakistan trust him too much and Inshallah next general election in Pakistan victorious will be the slogan of change and that the only party is PTI I'm quoting here sunnil gawaskar

"Imran Khan is the person what he decided to do he will go for it and he done it always with bravely"

Posted by Kapil.Gulechha on (December 1, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

Being an Indian, it doesnt stops me to admire how great Imran Khan is. Not only as a cricketer but in other field of life too....Brilliant article.....really a man of charishma & character. A perfect role model......

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 10:42 GMT)

Truly a great cricketer and one of the finest allrounders the cricket world has seen. After Gary Sobers could get into any world XI. He could also get into any great teams of the present or past just with his fast bowling, but he was also a great batsman and a leader. One of the greatest to have played this beautiful game. Long live Imran Khan, i'm sad you have entered the dirty world poltics and not acting straight sometimes, being an Indian loved your cricket and had your poster on my wall.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

Excelllent article, no one has any doubt about Imran's credentials in the filed of cricket, any youngster who wants to play for Pakistan should follow his path to achieve the goals with shear hard work & discipliine, he was a complete cricketer and greatest & a very honest person. May Allah achieve him more on poliitical front.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 9:32 GMT)

Yet another great article by Dr. Saad shafqat, I am a doctor myself and it always makes me feel really good when i read your articles. Imran khan was a true professional who did everything so in the best interest of his team and the country, he may have made a few bad decisions in his life (and everyone does) but no one question the intent behind any of his decisions. He was undoubtedly one of the finest of all time, but it was his true leadership skill that puts him even beyond the finest.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

greatest cricketer, even better than Bradman & Sobers... record speaks

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

Not only IMRAN is an inspiration to me but not to praise the writing skills of the author would be injustice too

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

Such a great player and a Politician. His aim to make cancer hospital in all over Pakistan to help the needy peoples...I love Imran Khan.

Posted by VivtheGreatest on (December 1, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

Imran is no doubt the best looking cricketer to have played the game and also one of the most inspirational captains ever but as a bowler I felt that Akram was superior on a sheer skill level so it's truly surprising that his Test statistics are better than Wasim's. Anyway he was a great player and an even better captain.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

I think he was more than this....i really dont have words to explain his level.I wish i had been a poet or a writer

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 8:04 GMT)

Imran is really a True Leader

Posted by Criktic on (December 1, 2012, 7:38 GMT)

I love IK

Posted by smalishah84 on (December 1, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

Great article as a 60th birthday tribute to one of the finest players ever to the grace the game. Imran Khan, take a bow.

Posted by safwan_Umair on (December 1, 2012, 7:31 GMT)

Brilliant post for a brilliant individual!

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 7:29 GMT)

Excellent article Saad Sahab...on the money right from the go...One awesome cricketing personality and no words can explain his charisma enough. Thank you so muc h for this lovely piece...

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

Hats off to you shafqat bhai. A true masterpiece you've written bravo every word is true. great leader written by equally good writer.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

wat an article. inspiring.

Posted by ramesh_sound on (December 1, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

Well written Saad. India has its awe inspiring batsmen, Pakistan has its pace and spin bowlers of skill and Sri lanka, its own mix of orthodoxy and innovativeness in batting and bowling; However, no one, not Gavaskar, not Murali, not Sachin not Akram ticks off all the boxes as a cricketer; Correct batting that can retrieve a world cup final, tick. Inspiring pace bowling? tick; Captaincy? tick. statesmanship to introduce neutral umpires? tick. If we can look beyond some silly comments like deciding kashmir on the basis of a cricket match, Imran Khan has been the top cricketer from Asia, barring none. Pity he was not in the top 5 cricketers of the century in Wisden

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 6:57 GMT)

Handsome and handful to all his opponents, Imran was a larger than life cricketer. Pakistan may never witness anybody like him ever. A truly awesome cricketer and gentleman.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

My Leader a Great Man , May Allah help him in achieving what he so sincerely have been struggling and hoping about.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (December 1, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

Imran khan was that influential and revolutionist that my son name is Imran too. I know Imran as a person was playboy or what ever but on the field of cricket he was master , the leader , the champion, the hero. He is may be the greatest leader in history of cricket. You call it dictatorship or stubborn i call it the life of a warrior who can conquer a war single handedly. Imran khan is by far the greatest Pakistani cricketer. No doubt. Talent wise Wasim Akram was better but Imran was complete cricketer. Even better than complete.

I don't support Imran as politician because politics is dirty work and his status is above that dirt.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 6:17 GMT)

Even the legends fall apart at times....but tt's the determination that help you achieving your goal...So, there is no best example of determination than Imran Khan....who, with his determination, stands on the highest pedistal when it comes to Game, Society and Morality...

Posted by greatkhan on (December 1, 2012, 5:38 GMT)

Great Article. 1 More thing i wud like to add here. Imran Khan played several matches as a batsman only without bowling a single ball in the test match. I think test matches where he did not bowl at all are around 10, so basically you are talking about 36o odd wickets in 70 odd tests plus his batting plus his captaincy puts him above all other allrounders.

Posted by ejak on (December 1, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

Imran Khan is one of the best in the world. He has been a true inspiration, on the field and off the field. All I can say, we are lucky to have him in Pakistan who can truly make a difference. He is honest and a very hard working man and can lead from the front in every aspect of life....

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

This is one the better articles I have read in sometime, a cricketer, whose cricket legacy gets often diluted because of his accomplishments in other fields, ranging from exploring the Pashtun area, to working relentlessly towards a successful democratic state. As a cricketer, you are absolutely spot on, when you say he came closest to the perfect cricketer, easily the best amongst Hadlee, Kapil, Botham, and himself, years may go by, but his aura will never dim. Even the fleeting glimpse of his, in Rocky 4 ending, made me, believe, his relevance in World Sports back then and even today .....

Posted by jawaid1 on (December 1, 2012, 4:42 GMT)

Was he really World-class in fielding also?

Posted by landl47 on (December 1, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

Imran would be in my Xl of the best players I have ever seen (going back to the late 1950s) and he would also be captain. I have only seen a couple of captains I would rate as better than Imran, namely Benaud and Brearley, and neither was a good enough player to make my best Xl. Imran was a moderately gifted player naturally, but he made himself into a world-class performer. His statistics over the last 10 years of his test career, with a batting average of over 50 and a bowling average of 19, have never been approached in modern times. He was and is a very intelligent and determined man and, as if all that wasn't enough, he had the looks of a movie star. Truly a remarkable man in every way.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 4:21 GMT)

When Imran bhai started his political career, I thought his chances of bringing about changes he wanted to bring about in a turbulent country like Pakistan seemed unlikely. But I am glad to be proven wrong.

Having listened to him in the world economic forum and many other interviews he knows precisely how he wants to tackle the socio-economic problems of not just Pakistan but it could applied to most of the developing world. I believe he can be a modern day revolutionary.

India could do with someone like Imran. All the best sir

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 1, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

Another fentastic piece from Saad. Imran Khan was truely a complete cricketer. Imran Khan had everything as a cricketer, batting, bowling and leadership. I do not believe that anyone from Indian subcontinent even comes close to Imran Khan. Kapil Dev was just hyped to be good and went on to play 400 test matches for his 400 wickets. Imran Khan had superb strike rate. Tendulya For me definition of sports is winning and Imran khan fits that bill.Imran won series in India(86),England (87) West Indies(89, draw was due to poor umpiring), NehruCup(89) and WC92. Teams like India have not even won that much in their history.Khan commands respect and had that charisma that no one else posesses. I rate Imran Khan, Sir Viv Richards and Gary Sobers as the best ever cricketer. Bradman was never truely tested in testing conditions so he is also overhyped. Biggest testimony to Imran Khan's skills is the fact that players like Sunil Gavaksar are his passionate fans! There would never be another.I.Khan

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Saad ShafqatClose

    How to construct an ODI chase

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

Ten things different at this World Cup

And one that will be the same. A look at what has changed since 2011. By Alan Gardner

    You're not so big now, brother

ESPNcricinfo XI: When unfavoured teams trounced stronger ones at the World Cup

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

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

Who is the BBL aimed at?

Michael Jeh: There's nothing wrong with the quality of the cricket on offer, but the bells and whistles surrounding it are intrusive and overwhelming

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

44 balls, 16 sixes, 149 runs

Stats highlights from an incredible day in Johannesburg, where AB de Villiers smashed the record for the fastest ODI ton

On TV it looks uglier than it actually is

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

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

Why cricket needs yellow and red cards

David Warner's repeated transgressions tell us that the game has a discipline problem that has got out of hand

News | Features Last 7 days