Imran Khan - A dazzling 21-year career
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

Imran Khan's announcement to retire, made known early in October 1992, though expected at a cricketer's age of 40, stunned the sporting world since he had not given an inkling of the decision in the country before he left with a team for North America.

 A large number of the game's fans would regret Imran's departure from the cricket scene. They expected him to still lead the Pakistan team for a few more years, though it is quite clear that it was not possible for him to go through further stress and strain of one-day internationals, not to say of the rigors of five-day Test matches. Besides, a suspect shoulder had crippled his physical capacities for competitive cricket.

Pakistan cricket will be the loser with Imran's exit from international confrontations. He was not only a great bowler, a forceful batsman and an agile fielder but an intelligent captain and a strict disciplinarian.

Even though he had lost some of his old devastating speed and sting lately his line and length were good enough to contain the opposing batting. Possessing a sound technique he could have provided the strength to the middle order and as he was a picture of concentration on the field he could have proved a shrewd tactician in difficult situations. However, a 21-year career stretch - a distinguished one - is long enough and it was time to take the crucial decision of saying goodbye to international cricket.

As Imran Khan himself said in his important announcement that he was retiring with the knowledge that he had no ambition left in the game, while at the same time there was so much more he wanted to achieve in life away from cricket, referring of course, to his dream of completing and developing the cancer hospital project and serving the people through politics.

Imran, the bowler and batsman, made his Test debut in June 1971 against England but, like Sir Donald Bradman in his inaugural Test, he failed to make an impact, having scored 5 and going wicketless from the match. His next appearance in Tests was again in England in 1974 for Intikhab Alam's team where his rhythmical bowling action and blinding speed earned the plaudits of the critics who ventured to predict a bright future for him. Imran was his devastating self against the Indians in the 1978-79 home series crashing through their innings at Lahore and Karachi, even though Gavaskar was playing fighting knocks. This was the period when Irnran had become one of the most menacing bowlers in the game. His very sight frightened batsmen. The two-way swings, yorkers and an electric speed would shake batsmen, sometimes bulldoze the rival innings.

Imran took over the mantle of captaincy from Javed Miandad (later on to be his successor) in 1982. This was to be the brightest phase in his cricketing career. For, as he himself has described, the purple patch came in 1987 when Pakistan lowered the colours of India in a series on the Indian soil - on what was a spinning strip. Then followed the triumph in England despite the fact that the umpiring tilted against Pakistan - two significant successes in one and the same cricket season.

However, even though Imran had taken the decision in principle to quit cricket, more honors were in store.

Pakistan lifted the World Cup in 1992, even though they started rather poorly and the grand victory gave him "more fulfilment than anything previously in any cricketing career."

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Imran Khan Photos (12)
Imran Khan Photos (14)
Imran Khan Photos (20)

As a captain, Imran's contribution was as important as Kardar's, the first captain of Pakistan, when it was difficult to assemble a balanced side to confront the strong outfits of the world. Yet Kardar achieved success against almost all the cricket-playing nations. Imran's achievements when instant cricket has been added to the Test series and the game has become very strenuous are no less significant, perhaps it is dazzling.

What is his place in history? Even though some may disagree it is not wrong to say that Iniran was the most outstanding all-rounder of the late seventies and the eighties. Hadlee, the New Zealander, India's Kapil Dev, England's Ian Botham and Malcolm Marshall of the West Indies, have more wickets to show but it cannot be denied that Imran, with the explosive speed, swing, variety and control was a master match-winning bowler. As a batsman though he was usually a dashing bitter, his technique was so organised that it was difficult to dislodge him even for the best bowler. He was certainly among the great all-
rounder of the post-Second World War era, taking such eminent players as Miller and Benaud of Australia, Worrell and Sobers of West Indies and Vinod Mankad of India into reckoning.

In his Test years Imran took 362 wickets (at an average of 22.81) and scored 3807 runs with an average of 37.69.

Current age 59 years 160 days

Major teams Pakistan, Dawood Club, Lahore, New South Wales, Oxford University, Pakistan International Airlines, Sussex, Worcestershire

Batting style Right-hand bat

Bowling style Right-arm fast

Batting and fielding averages

Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 6s Ct St
Tests 88 126 25 3807 136 37.69     6 18 55 28 0
ODIs 175 151 40 3709 102* 33.41 5105 72.65 1 19   36 0
First-class 382 582 99 17771 170 36.79     30 93   117 0
List A 425 384 80 10100 114* 33.22     5 66   84 0
Bowling averages

Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
Tests 88 142 19458 8258 362 8/58 14/116 22.81 2.54 53.7 17 23 6
ODIs 175 153 7461 4844 182 6/14 6/14 26.61 3.89 40.9 3 1 0
First-class 382   65224 28726 1287 8/34   22.32 2.64 50.6   70 13
List A 425   19122 11312 507 6/14 6/14 22.31 3.54 37.7 12 6 0

 Written By : Lateef Jafri