We are supposed to meet Iqbal Qasim at 11am at the National Bank of Pakistan Stadium, a quaint little ground in the defence area of Karachi, where the teams are having their training sessions. After a long night's work, because of the timings of the Asia Cup matches, we oversleep, wake up at 11.30am, and try calling him on the phone. There is no response. On our way to the ground at around noon, we get through to him and pat comes the response, "Where are you? We were supposed to meet at 11?"
"But I tried calling you, and you didn't answer," my colleague says.
"But were we supposed to talk on the phone or meet in person?"
That was perhaps one of the most misleading first interactions you could have. When we reached the NBP Stadium we met this friendly talkative man, neither cranky nor idiosyncratic. The first thing you would notice about Qasim are his hands and fingers, which are big and broad, thick and long. The fingers on the left hand have signs of wear; he used them extensively to take 171 Test wickets, the most by a Pakistan left-arm spinner.
I want to talk to him about the famous Bangalore Test, when Bishan Bedi's tips helped turn the match Pakistan's way, and also about the time when "blood and bouncers kept the crowds happy". He has also been a national selector, and is just the man to talk to in the wake of the current selection controversy in Pakistan.
Qasim has a roundish face with different indentations on it. His eyes seem to act independent of the rest of the face; they can talk on their own. And he has a reassuring voice, which suggests you are talking to someone wise. Quite aptly he is called "kaka".
Mention him and Maninder Singh being the best left-arm spinners in the 1980s, the eyes transform from dispassionate (when taking about selection) to gleaming. "Our coach was the same: Bedi Sahab. He followed Bedi, and I have looked for tips from him from 1978 till now," Qasim says.
The talk inevitably moves to the Bangalore Test. And almost as if he is responsible for making Bedi sound like a traitor, Qasim says, "He didn't deliberately give us tips. It was the rest day of the Bangalore Test after the third day, and the Indian board had arranged a reception for us, a tradition that has been discontinued now.
"Tauseef and I were tired of the pressure and were the first ones to reach the venue. Bedi Sahab was there, and we started talking. I sat on the left, Tauseef on the right, and he in the middle. I told him, 'Kaptaan ji your student [Maninder] is bowling really well.'
"Now Bedi was a possessive coach, he expected a lot from his students and if they didn't live up to his expectations, he got furious. 'Ki khak kar reha hai? [He is bowling rubbish],' he said.
"And Maninder had taken seven wickets in the first innings! I was naturally surprised and when I told him that, he said, 'Agreed he has taken seven wickets but you don't know Kaka, the wicket is breaking by itself, and he is imparting even more break. As a result he is beating the batsmen, he is beating the stumps, and he is beating the wicketkeeper.'
"Still we had managed only 116 and 249. I looked at Tauseef, Tauseef looked at me, and we knew we didn't need to try and spin it much. We kept it in mind, and we applied it."
There is also the time he was felled by a Bob Willis bouncer at Edgbaston in 1978. A night watchman on the third day, Qasim had done his job for the evening but on the next morning Willis had had enough of him. He bowled two bouncers, which Qasim avoided, before going round the stumps to deliver a nasty one, which Qasim tried to defend but missed. It hit him on the lip and there was blood on the pitch. Willis just went back to his mark, showing no concern for the batsman's well-being whatsoever.
"There was an unwritten ethic those days, when unlimited bouncers were allowed and there was no protective gear available that fast bowlers shouldn't bowl bouncers to tail enders. But Willis said that I had settled in enough, and I had started to hurt them. We were a Kerry Packer-depleted side then and didn't have the bad fast bowlers; otherwise it would have been fun when Willis batted. Mike Brearley, their captain, sent a note of apology though.
"Sadiq Mohammad, the batsman at the other end when I was hit, wore a helmet for the first time in that match. It was given to him by Dennis Amiss, who is among the first ones to have ever worn a helmet on a cricket field. But Sadiq was booed by the crowd when he walked out wearing a helmet."
Those were the days when, as Tony Greig had mentioned in an interview 10 days ago, blood and bouncers kept the crowd happy.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo