President Pervez Musharraf is to honour the surviving members of Pakistan's inaugural Test tour of India half a century ago. Pakistan's first Test, against India at Delhi, started on October 16, 1952. President Musharraf, who is also the patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board, and Zafarullah Khan Jamali, the prime minister, are expected to attend the event in Islamabad on September 16. It was originally planned for last year, but was postponed after Pakistan's home series against Australia and West Indies were moved abroad because of security concerns.
Each of the surviving players will receive a commemorative medallion, a cash prize of 250,000 rupees (around US$4200), and a current green Pakistan blazer.
"The ceremony was planned last year but couldn't be organised because our home series against Australia was shifted to the neutral venues of Colombo and Sharjah," explained a PCB spokesman. "Now that cricket has resumed in Pakistan, we will celebrate our golden jubilee and honour our legends who were instrumental in putting Pakistan on the world cricket map.
"We want to honour our icons so that they know that they are still remembered, respected, cared for and looked after. We want them to realise that the nation has not forgotten their services and heroics. They were and still are the legends. No nation progresses if it doesn't remember its heroes. We, as a nation in general and the PCB in particular, have been well aware of our responsibilities towards our heroes."
Abdul Hafeez Kardar was the captain of that first team in India in 1952. The series was eventually lost, but not before Pakistan emerged victorious in the second Test at Lucknow, thanks to 12 wickets from Fazal Mahmood and an unbeaten century from Nazar Mohammad. Nazar has since died, but Fazal will be among the 12 invitees.
The other surviving tourists are Hanif Mohammad, Imtiaz Ahmed, Waqar Hasan, Wazir Mohammad, Khan Mohammad, Zulfiqar Ahmed, Israr Ali, Khalid Qureshi, Khursheed Ahmed, Rusi Dinshaw and Khalid Ibadulla. Apart from Kardar and Nazar, Anwar Hussain, Maqsood Ahmed, Mahmood Hussain, Amir Elahi and Mir Mohammad Hussain, the manager, have also passed away.
Pakistan had planned a three-nation one-day tournament and a Test series to celebrate their Golden Jubilee last year, but Australia refused to tour after two bomb blasts in Karachi. Pakistan also invited India to play a 50-year commemorative Test, but the offer was turned down as the Indian government continues to suspend bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan.