Fazal Mahmood, one of the greatest of Pakistani cricketers, has died at his home in Lahore aged 78.
Fazal, a tall medium-pacer with immaculate control and deceptive late movement, took 139 wickets in 34 Tests between 1952-53 and 1962. He played in Pakistan's inaugural Test, against India at Delhi in October 1952, and produced figures of 12 for 94 at Lucknow in the second match to secure Pakistan's first-ever Test victory
But he will forever be remembered for his performance in Pakistan's first Test tour of England two years later, when he took 12 wickets at The Oval in a thrilling series-levelling victory. His second-innings figures of 6 for 46 included the prize scalps of Peter May and Denis Compton, as England slumped from 109 for 2 to 143 all out, to lose by just 24 runs. That performance earned him the accolade of being one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year.
Fazal also played a lead role in Pakistan's first-ever victory over Australia, taking 13 for 114 at Karachi in 1955. Before the partition of India and Pakistan, he had played in the Ranji Trophy for Northern India and had earned selection for India's tour of Australia in 1947-48. Instead, however, he chose to migrate to Pakistan, where he earned a living as a police officer.
"He suffered a heart attack which he couldn't survive," his son Shahazad Mahmood told AFP. "He was otherwise healthy and used to go to his office even after a prostate operation." Alongside his contemporaries, Imtiaz Ahmed and Hanif Mohammad, Fazal Mahmood was often referred to as one of the icons of Pakistan cricket, and the Pakistan Cricket Board was swift to send its condolences to his family.
"On behalf of the chairman, colleagues in PCB and on my own behalf, I would like to convey heartfelt condolences on the sad and untimely passing away of your father who was undoubtedly Pakistan's great hero," said Abbas Zaidi, the director of board operations in a statement. "We pray that his soul rests in peace and may Allah Almighty give you and your family strength to bear this huge loss."