Abdul Qadir Khan
September 15, 1955, Lahore, Punjab
September 06, 2019, Lahore, (aged 63y 356d)
Right hand bat
Cricket has Abdul Qadir to thank for keeping wrist-spin alive through the darkest years of the late 1970s and '80s. He did it with style, too. Blessed with a fast bowler's temperament and fire, he surrounded his craft with mystique. Before the 1982 tour to England, captain Imran Khan asked him to grow a French beard to enhance the aura and it worked: England were his favourite victims through his career, responsible for his international breakthrough in 1977-78 as well as his finest hours, at the Oval in 1987 and the home series later that year (he took 30 wickets in three Tests, including the best bowling in an innings by a Pakistani, 9 for 56 in Lahore). Imran was to be a key influence on his career, one of the few capable of getting the best out of Qadir the man and bowler.
Qadir's action was a wonderfully extravagant routine, and he admitted more than once that it was contrived as a spectacle to distract batsmen. Variety was the key; it was said he had six different deliveries per over. Like the Andy Roberts bouncer, Qadir was said to have two different googlies. The flipper was often equally lethal though much often depended not on his ability but on mood.
Rarely was the mood right against India, whose batsmen were largely untroubled by him. On Pakistan's historic 1987 tour, when they won a series in India for the first time, Qadir was largely ineffective for four Tests before being dropped for the final. Iqbal Qasim and Tauseef Ahmed, orthodox spinners both, were far more effective and led Pakistan to victory. But for every India, there was a West Indies and that Pakistan were able to compete with the era's most frighteningly dominant team without losing a series to them in the mid-80s was largely down to Qadir's successes against them.
Qadir's appetite for the fight could not be questioned and it often came out in his batting. He played a few combative Test innings and some vital ODI ones, once taking 16 off Courtney Walsh's last over to win a World Cup tie. He faded away from the scene, however, in the early 90s with the emergence of Mushtaq Ahmed and played his last ODI in 1993. Since then he has run a private academy near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore and his four sons have followed him into the game, with varying degrees of success, but his role in Mushtaq's rise and, to a lesser extent, that of Danish Kaneria should not be overlooked. In November 2008 Qadir was given licence to contribute more directly once again to Pakistan cricket when he was appointed the chief selector, but he resigned after a little over six months in the job.
It is impossible to believe that wrist-spin has ever been bowled better than Qadir did in his home city of Lahore in 1987-88, when he took 9 for 56 against England. Graham Gooch, who faced him that day, said Qadir was even finer than Shane Warne, to whom he passed on the candle.
Scyld Berry/ESPNcricinfo Staff
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