Javed Miandad

It is evident after watching Javed Miandad face no more than a ball or two that he is a natural sportsman of rare talent. His relaxed but commanding attitude is immediately convincing. Extraordinarily nimble on his feet and with a superb eye, Javed in 1981 gave the Welsh cricketing public something to cheer about in what, for Glamorgan, was a moderate season.

The early part of the summer being cruelly wet, it was hardly surprising that even Javed found the pitches difficult to adjust to. However, he announced himself at Leicester on June 14, with an unbeaten Sunday League hundred, and followed this with 105 on an unpredictable pitch in Glamorgan's next Championship match, against Warwickshire at Cardiff. Ten days later, against Somerset at Swansea, he scored a century in each innings. And so it went on. In the return match against Somerset, at Taunton this time, he scored 200 not out - on Royal Wedding day.

But perhaps his finest innings of the summer was against Essex at Colchester, on September 1. Set to score 325 to win, on a dusty, difficult pitch, Glamorgan lost their first four wickets for 44 runs. An early finish was visualised - until Javed took charge. When, finally, he ran out of partners, he had recorded his second double-hundred of the season, and Glamorgan had lost by only 13 runs. The Essex players were adamant that this was the best piece of batting they had ever seen. By the time the campaign ended, Javed had surpassed Gilbert Parkhouse's record of seven hundreds in a season for Glamorgan, as well as Parkhouse's 1959 aggregate of 2,071 runs, also, until then, a county record.

JAVED MIANDAD KHAN was born in Karachi on June 12, 1957, one of seven children. Cricket was the family game, his only two brothers also being destined to play top-class cricket in Pakistan. Javed made his first-class début at the age of sixteen years and five months, for Karachi Whites, and he was still only seventeen when chosen for the Pakistan Prudential World Cup squad in 1975. On the recommendation of Sadiq Mohammad he was invited by Tony Greig, when the World Cup was over, to play a few matches for Sussex second eleven with a view to qualifying. Sussex were sufficiently impressed to ask him to return in 1976, when, although he appeared in only five matches, he easily headed the Sussex batting averages with 523 runs, an average of 58, and a top score of 162 against Kent at Canterbury.

At home that winter he made his Test début, scoring 163 on his first appearance - against New Zealand at Lahore. He followed this with 206 and 85 in the third and final Test at Karachi, so becoming, at nineteen years and four months, the youngest player ever to hit a Test double-hundred. Although he had a somewhat disappointing tour of the West Indies in 1976-77, playing in only one Test match, he was already a rising star.

In 1977, despite being at times the victim of his impetuosity, he made the number four spot his own in the Sussex side, scoring more runs than any other player and being awarded his county cap. His fielding was also a joy to watch, leaving its mark on, among others, the up-and-coming Paul Parker. By now, though, it was becoming increasingly apparent that when Keppler Wessels returned from military service in South Africa, Sussex would have a selection problem. With Imran already assured of a Sussex place, as a world-class all-rounder, Miandad and Wessels would be competing for the remaining overseas position.

In 1978 a depleted Pakistan side came to England for three Test matches. Without their Packer players, they relied heavily upon Javed and Haroon Rashid, and they were roundly defeated. The tour over, Javed rejoined Sussex, playing in eight first-class matches and again topping the county's batting averages. That winter, when he signed for World Series Cricket, he made an immediate impression in Australia, but, suffering perhaps from a surfeit of cricket, he had a depressing season for Sussex in 1979. Unable to command a regular place in the side, as had been foreshadowed two years before, he had the frustration of playing a lot of second team cricket. Clearly he had an important decision to make regarding his future - whether or not to look for another county. In the event, with just a little persuasion, he signed a three-year contract with Glamorgan in 1980, a choice he has not regretted.

He arrived at Sofia Gardens, Cardiff, on April 25, 1980, having just led Pakistan for the first time - in a home series against Australia. The Glamorgan staff had already been training and practising for three weeks when Javed, without any kit or clothes of his own, took guard in a practice game and despatched all and sundry to various parts of the ground. His first innings for his new county was against Essex at Swansea where, on a rain-affected pitch, he tore the formidable Essex attack to ribbons, scoring 140 not out. The daring of his stroke-play and the brilliance of his improvisation were a revelation to anyone watching him for the first time.

Despite what for him was an ordinary series against West Indies in Pakistan in 1980-81, when he was again captain, he took an exceptional Test record to Australia at the end of last year, having scored seven hundreds and fifteen half-centuries in his first 34 matches for Pakistan.

Without doubt Javed is one of the best and most exciting players in the world today - and one of the most instantly recognisable, his mop of dark hair seldom being hidden from view by a helmet. Besides batting so well for Glamorgan, he has been a great help and encouragement to the county's younger players. He has also been known to bowl leg-breaks at almost breakneck speed. Still only in his middle 20s, he should have many years left of delighting cricket-lovers from Cardiff to Karachi.

© John Wisden & Co