Obituary

Mahmood Hussain

MAHMOOD HUSSAIN, the Pakistan fast-medium right-arm bowler, died in hospital at Harrow on December 25, 1991, aged 59. He formed part of a three-pronged seam attack fielded by Pakistan in her early years as a Test-playing country. Fazal Mahmood was the chief wicket-taker but Mahmood Hussain could be relied upon to keep the runs down, even on the most heart-breaking pitches. He was a willing servant but captains, to their cost, were often tempted to overbowl him. It was too much even for a powerful frame and towards the end of his Test career he was plagued by injuries. With the bat, he was a useful tailender and played an important part in two tight finishes, saving Pakistan from a Test defeat on each occasion.

Mahmood first attracted attention in 1949-50 when he took 16 wickets in the Universities final for Punjab against Sind. He was chosen for Pakistan's inaugural tour of neighbouring India in 1952-53. Pakistan won their second-ever Test, Mahmood's first, on a matting wicket at Lucknow and he took four for 92 in 42 overs in the match. He took eight more wickets in the remaining three Tests. He was one of the successes of Pakistan's first tour of England, in 1954, taking 72 wickets, and played an important role in the Pakistanis' improbable win at The Oval, helping Fazal Mahmood wreck England's first innings and, coming in at No. 11, sharing two stubborn last-wicket stands of 27 and 24 that proved decisive in a game won by 24 runs.

His best Test figures, six for 67, came in Dacca when India visited Pakistan in 1954-55. Academic commitments then kept him busy for most of the next two years but he returned in fine form, taking eight for 93 for Karachi Whites against the Greens in 1956-57 and winning selection for Pakistan's first tour of the Caribbean in 1957-58. In the Third Test at Kingston he broke down after delivering five balls and had to watch Sobers make his 365 not out. But his four for 48 helped ensure victory at Dacca when West Indies returned the tour the following season. By the time he was picked for England in 1962 he needed conserving to bring out his best, but his captain Javed Burki pressed him into service too early too often. He broke down with a groin injury after the Third Test at Leeds and that spelt the end of his Test career. His last two victims were Colin Cowdrey and Ted Dexter.

In 27 Tests, Mahmood's 68 wickets were obtained at a cost of 38.64. In all matches he took 322 wickets at 25.07 and made 1,107 runs for an average of 10.74. A popular figure at Lord's in his retirement, he was much respected for his courage and determination on the field. He was a fine ambassador for his country at a time when Pakistan cricket was less contentious than it later became.

© John Wisden & Co