Obituary, 2002

Shakoor Rana



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SHAKOOR RANA, who found his few minutes of fame in an unedifying spat with Mike Gatting in the 1987-88 Faisalabad Test, died of a heart attack in Lahore on April 9, 2001, aged 65. As much as three-quarters of his press obituaries were consumed by the squabble after he halted play because, Shakoor Rana alleged, Gatting had moved a fielder without the batsman's knowledge. Umpire and England captain had a toe-totoe, finger-jabbing confrontation, there were reciprocal charges of cheating and swearing, and the third day's play was lost, helping Pakistan escape with a draw. The match did not resume until an apology was forthcoming from the English camp.

A right-hand batsman and medium-fast bowler in his playing days, Shakoor Rana made his first-class debut for Punjab in 1957-58, and between then and 1972-73 he also played for Lahore, Khairpur and Pakistan Railways, with whom he held a post as a sports officer. In 11 first-class games, he scored 226 runs, took a dozen wickets and held 11 catches. Three of his brothers, Shafqat, Azmat and Sultan, also played firstclass cricket (the first two at Test level), and two of his sons, Mansoor and Maqsood, played one-day cricket for Pakistan. Burly of frame and jocose by nature, he stood in 18 Tests and 22 one-day internationals from 1974-75 to 1996-97, and was reckoned to be upright and bold in his decision-making. It seems he could be self-important, too. In the 1984-85 Test at Karachi, he quarrelled with the New Zealand captain, Jeremy Coney, when he ignored an appeal for a catch at the wicket against Javed Miandad, and the outraged New Zealander threatened to lead his team from the arena. But former Sussex captain John Barclay remembered a much friendlier character from the 1981 summer, when Shakoor Rana was umpiring in England. Barclay had been told by an Indian taxi-driver to ask "Where's Allah?" (rather than the customary "Howzat?") when appealing; the response would be a finger pointing to the sky. Shakoor Rana was having none of it. "Not that silly trick again," he said sotto voce as Barclay walked back to his mark.

© John Wisden & Co