INBOX

From our readers

Pakistan cricket

July 28, 2014

Inzy, you beauty

Ali Umair Chaudhry

Comments: 18 |
Imzamam marked his arrival on the international scene with a blistering knock in the 1992 World Cup semi-final © Getty Images

The sights and sounds from the two series that took place between Pakistan and India in 2005-2006 are still vivid in my memory. This regeneration of cricketing ties had led to considerable excitement in both countries and around many cricketing circles across world. Pakistan's captain Inzamam-ul-Haq had been gaining a fair deal of press coverage in Pakistan for his divinely inspired approach to cricket training and management. And as many Indian bowlers were to discover over the span of these two tours, there was definitely something holy about Inzy in full flow.

"I reckon he's on a level just below Sachin and Lara, and just above everyone els", spoke Australian commentator Ian Chappell of the burly saint from Multan. 'The rest' he was so casually referring to included glorified names such as Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid. There was not much disagreement among commentators about Inzamam's place on the pantheon during that particular season. Dean Jones, also on the panel, would signal Inzamam's arrival to the crease with what could be confused for George Burn's cue at the Academy Awards, 'And the great man makes his way onto the middle.' The rhetoric would make the departing Salman Butt's inning seem like a thiry-second energizer bunny ad. Robin Jackman, the English commentator, was often left in awe by Inzamam's deft touches: 'Oh Inzy, Inzy, Inzy, what a special player he is', he would speak as if Paris Hilton had been asked about her latest squeeze by an interviewer.

The Indian side consisted of the Usual Suspects - some of the giants of the modern day game: Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. Pakistan had Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan. But it seemed to be Inzamam who mattered the most. Sanjay Manjrekar, always full of praise for Inzamam, would go on to state his importance various times while covering the two series. He insisted that Inzamam had to be in top five, if not the top three batsmen in the game of that generation.

Times have changed and so have opinions. There have been virtually no echoes of Inzamam's exploits after his retirement. Rarely mentioned as one of the top batsmen of the 90s and early 2000s, and entirely overlooked in the lists of batting greats, posterity has not been too kind to Inzy. He does have a stain or two on his resume. Although his average managed to swell above 52 in the latter stages of his career, it ultimately slipped to just under 50. This excludes him from the 50s club. Additionally, although his record against Australia and South Africa includes some remarkable innings, his overall statistical performance against these sides was generally disappointing for a player of his calibre.


Inzamam-ul-Haq is given a guard of honour by his team-mates, Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, Lahore, 5th day, October 12, 2007
In his time, Inzamam was the Pakistani batsman, a pedestal he later vacated for Misbah-ul-Haq © AFP
Enlarge

Within Inzamam were the last few glimpses of a dying, waning brand of cricket. With a loathing for exercise and a portly frame, he would seem like a man from another generation; playing exclusively through natural ability rather than any athletic marksmanship. He was one of the game's greatest players of the hook, and authored a back foot game that rivaled the best. Imran Khan famously rated Inzamam as the second best player of fast bowling he had ever seen - after only Viv Richards. It was a point Wasim Akram ratified in one of his earlier commentary stints. When Waqar Younis and he were at their peak, and used to steam in full throttle in the nets, Inzy used to play them as if they were bowling medium pace.

Inzamam's cricketing achievements rival the best of his generation. Seventeen of his 25 Test 100s came in victories - a rate bettered only by the peerless Don Bradman. There was the heroic match-winning knock in the World Cup semifinal which signalled his arrival. And the career-resurrecting thriller in Multan. And then there was his reputation as the Pakistani batsman, a pedestal he later vacated for Misbah-ul-Haq. Little statistical work has been done on how many more runs he may have managed if he had taken his running between the wickets more seriously. Perhaps, just perhaps his name would have been uttered in the same breath as a Lara or a Tendulkar?

Questions of his legacy as an all-time great batsman aside, he remains one of the true great characters in the game's history. In between the wickets, he was a comedy of errors waiting to happen, and yet - at the same time, a jolly green giant capable of remarkable shamanism with willow in hand. There are indeed so many sides to the Inzamam-ul-Haq saga. How can we forget a fuming Inzamam threatening to beat up a helpless fan with a bat in his hand? Or Inzamam the Test match captain who became the first in history to walk his team off the field?

But what makes these incidents special was, in the end, the pure ability of the man. It was his genius that eventually rises above numbers and achievements. Take away his pedestrian running between the wickets and there were very few who could match him from the time the ball left the bowler's hand to when it met the full blade of the bat. No other batsman bewildered commentators more with his natural ability. "So much time, Oh my. He has so much time on his hands." - this was the mantra-of-choice for most commentators, simply by observation rather than on reputation. In his embodiment lay the sight of a man gifted by the heavens rather than by hard work or a particular methodology. Yet, at the same time, he was not by any means unorthodox. He was a genuine Test match batsman with a practical technique.

Many who follow Pakistan cricket will testify that there were few more sights in the game that matched the excitement of a burly Inzamam pouncing down the track to deposit a spinner into the parking lot - only to stumble onto the stumps the next ball. Only Inzy. There is a fair deal to be taken into account when it comes to judging the true place of Inzamam within the annals of cricket's history. But for the cricket analysts and fans who have spent a fair deal of time watching Pakistani cricket, a few words will most surely resonate from their hearts: "Inzy, you beauty".

If you have a submission for Inbox, send it to us here, with "Inbox" in the subject line

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Posted by samincolumbia on (August 21, 2014, 21:19 GMT)

Inzy though a great batsman and gentle giant was never in the same league as Sachin since his overseas record was pretty ordinary. He had some occasional flashes with the bat overseas, bu he was not consistent like Sachin was.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (August 1, 2014, 10:18 GMT)

Inzi was one of the cleanest hitters of cricket ball. He had amazing appetite of scoring 50's in ODI cricket. At the end of his career he was considered as one of the most respected cricketers on planet earth. Definitely his two innings in SF and Final in 92 WC were most amazing ODI innings of all time. I regard Inzi's 184 against India in India as one of the greatest Test innings i have watched along with Sachin's 136 in Chennai in 99. Inzi was the best partner to have with you because of his amazing ability to take singles at will. Baven, Mianadad, Inzi, MSD were the only players who can take single in ODI at their will. Which proves that he was all time great player.

Posted by   on (July 31, 2014, 15:33 GMT)

Inzy what a legend !! First saw him in 1992 Worldcup against New Zealand and won the game for Pakistan..

Posted by   on (July 31, 2014, 14:25 GMT)

Most Admirable pakistani cricketer for me... A sheer joy to watch.

Posted by harshthakor on (July 31, 2014, 11:15 GMT)

Few batsmen were naturally more adept towards tackiling sheer pace as Inzy who performed outstandingly against the Caribaen quickies like Ambrose and Walsh on West Indian soil.It is really surprising that he was not prolific in South Africa or Australia.Few batsmen in the game manouvred a cricket ball to win games for their county like Inzy and I can never forget his batting in India in the 3rd test in Bangalore 2005.He won some great one day games for Pakistan like in the 1992 world cup semi-final when he scored a match-winning 60.

Inzy may just be edged out by Mianadad,Hanif and Zaheer in the contest of the best Pakistan batsmen of all time.However none could turn the complexion of game as much as Inzy.He lacked Miandad's consistency in acrsis and the technical mastery of Hanif Mohammd and Zaheer Abbas.I would place Sehwag marginally ahead because of his marathon scores and matches won against great opposition .

Above all I would remember Inzy for his great character.

Posted by harshthakor on (July 31, 2014, 11:06 GMT)

Inzamam Ul Haq was the greatest match winning batsmen of his era, overshadowing even Lara and Tendulkar.He averaged over 78 in games won and 68% of his centuries scored were in winning affairs.Inzy posessed the reflexes of Sir Viv Richards and on his day could tear apart the best of pace and spin attacks with the ferocity of a tiger.In a crisis Inzy often performed like a commander leading a batallion to victory after being on the brink of defeat.In full flow he could create the impact of a bomber airplane destroying an airbase.

Sadly he hardly performed consistently well against South Africa and Australia at home or away which may have counted him being ranked in the Tendulkar class.Neverthless averaging over 60 runs in his pea from 2000-2006 period was an outsanding performance .

I rank Inzamam neck to neck with Virtendra Sehwag who performed better against the best teams.Inzy came within inches of Javed Miandad to win the title of best ever Pakistan batsman of all .

Posted by   on (July 30, 2014, 21:51 GMT)

one of the greatest ever. Certainly Pakistan's best batsman !!!!

Posted by malepas on (July 30, 2014, 8:56 GMT)

Good article and yes Inzi was the most accomplished batsman of his era, I always astonished the way he used to play, it was like he is in deep sleep when the bowler delivers the ball and then when the ball arrives close to him, he will decide what to do with it, I mean so much lazy elegance and time to play the ball, that was I never seen in any other batsman including modern greats, his back foot shuffle and shots were amazing, he had this gears like other greats, that he could summoned at will and just unleashed on the bowlers, doesn't matter who you are as bowler, if Inzi decide to hit you, he will hit you out. I've seen Miandad, Zaheer and others but to me Inzi was the best batsman Pakistan ever produced so far. A gentle giant and classy slip fielder.

Posted by FAB_ALI on (July 30, 2014, 7:35 GMT)

I only remember one thing about Inzy and that is "Stand and Deliver". He was a boundary man, never liked running between the wickets (he always walked for his singles). At the same time, he was so good at rotating the strike that before the opposition knew he was well set on a 30 or 40. He just seemed to have so much time in playing every ball (If Shahid Afridi was in place, he would have played 10 shots before the ball arrived as Ramiz Raja always says). If Wasim Akram is Pakistan's Greatest Bowler, Inzy is their Greatest Batamen and Imran Khan is Greatest All Rounder.

Posted by FulloToss on (July 30, 2014, 5:46 GMT)

The cricket PR machinery unfortunately works from the perspective of only three nations and they have taken over the ICC as well. That also seems to determine which players get deified a cut above the rest. Inzamam was one of the classiest players in the 1990s, of the same pedigree as Lara or Tendulkar - at least in that decade. Ponting was more of a product of the 2000s. Back to Inzamam. He prob didn't get the same limelight as Lara or Tendulkar because unlike the other two, he was not the only superstar in his team. Pakistan had the bowlers to die for. He was aggressive, fluid, comic, buckethands at slips.. a player you wanted to watch all the time.

P.S. @Harsha, i am not sure who appointed you to speak on behalf of India.. Just speak for yourself man.

Related Links
Players/Officials: Inzamam-ul-Haq
Teams: Pakistan

Think the world needs to read your opinions on cricket? Here's your chance to be published on ESPNcricinfo.

FAQ ►

MORE IN INBOX

Technique is a myth

Coaching is no longer about correcting technique. It's about helping the play...

The rules of a club cricket tour

A brief and light-hearted look at some of the trials and tribulations faced b...

An air of mistrust

A little more conversation - between players, the board and the WIPA - could ...

DOPPELGANGERS

GAMES

  • CROSSWORD
    crossword