Abdul Hafeez Kardar - Hero Worship
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

On November 8, the seemingly indomitable South Africans lifted the Golden Jubilee trophy by comfortably beating Sri Lanka at 'Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, the venue of the letter's most memorable triumph in cricket.

Following the final, the Pakistan Cricket Board added to the festivities by putting up a memorable show replete with fiwwrks, music and all.

Present or represented were all the captains of Pakistan cricket, save one noticeable exception, and they were all given golden mementos in recognition of their services. The late Mian Mohammad Saeed, who ted the country immediately after independence in unofficial Tests, and Abdul Hafeez Kardar, also deceased, were represented by grandsons. The third absentee was Imran Khan, inarguably the most successful of all those cricketers who have had the good fortune of captaining Pakistan. Always preferring to stand alone than in a crowd, it was perhaps characteristic of Imran to abstain. But still his decision to Stay away, for whatever I'euavn, did not go down, too well with the public.


On the same starry but rainy night, the PCB also honoured nine cricketers with Life Achievement Awards. Eight of them, not surprisingly, were former captains zokile leg-spin wizard Abdull Qadir was the ninth. The Herald profiles these nine distinguished cricketers who have served the cause of Pakistan cricket with outstanding success.

Pakistan has been led by as many as 19 Test captains, and the very first in the list is the redoubtable Abdul Hafeez Kardar.

Of the remaining dozen and a half, Imran Khan is the only other former captain who was so universally and unquestionably accepted by his mates as the one'and only "Skipper".

This is not the only similarity between Kardar and Khan. Both were all-rounders but, more importantly, they were gifted leaders who achieved a very high degree of success. A.H. Kardar, not unlike Imran much after him, commanded such respect among his charges that each member of the side gave everything, and then some, to the cause of the team.

The newly-born nation of Pakistan craved recognition, and it was Kardar's personality that guided the country to a siring of successes, winning at least one Test match against all the established cricketing nations.

This included away Test victories against India, former colonial rulers England and the West Indies. The 1954 victory at the Oval, a remarkable achievement that put the babes of cricket on the world map right off the bat, had as much to do with Kardar's leadership as Fazal Mahmood's superlative figures of 12 for 99. That is not to mention Kardar's top score of 36 in a total of 133 in the first innings. This also was the first, and to date the only, instance of any country beating England in the latter's own backyard on a debut trip.

With an aristocratic mien which brooked no nonsense, Kardar was an excellent strategist and valuable all-rounder who, before leading Pakistan, had already earned the distinction of representing united India on the 1946 tour of England. In addition, he was an Oxford Blue and also played for Warwickshire.

Kardar is most famous for his leadership abilities, captaining Pakistan in 23 Tests on the trot during the first decade, but he was also an aggressive, quality left-handed batsman and an accurate slow left-aim bowler.

His contributions with both bat and ball were steady without being spectacular. The important thing, though, was that he almost always performed with either the willow or the leather whenever the chips were down.

In the seventies, Kardar went into politics for a spell and also served as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan. In the latter capacity, he was one of the most vocal critics of the ICCs policy of ignoring the smaller cricketing nations, and ultimately played a large role in winning them their due share. It was also in Kardar's tenure, incidentally, that Pakistan's first managed to get its long term cricketing calendar approved by the ICC.

For one who had ruled Pakistan cricket with an iron hand, Kardar's stint as president of the BCCP ironically came to an end after the first real show of player-power during the 1976-77 pay dispute. He then faded out of cricket, and not much later from politics, but he was never one to remain idle. He did social work amid followed intellectual pursuits, and at the very fag end also served as Pakistan's ambassador to Switzerland.

Batting style Left-hand bat

Bowling style Slow left-arm orthodox

Batting and fielding averages

Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 6s Ct St
Tests 26 42 3 927 93 23.76 0 5 2 16 0
First-class 174 262 33 6832 173 29.83 8 32   110 0
Bowling averages

Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
Tests 26 26 2712 954 21 3/35 5/73 45.42 2.11 129.1 0 0 0
First-class 174   24256 8448 344 7/25   24.55 2.08 70.5   19 4


By Faraz Agha

published in Herald, Pakistan in 1997.