His recent involvement with the women cricket and later as member of Ad hoc Committee are, therefore, a welcome development

From Khalid Butt, Lahore.
July 04 - 10, 2005

After the passing away of Fazal Mahmood one is left with only a couple of early legends in Pakistan cricket. Wing Commander (Retd) Imtiaz Ahmed, followed by Hanif Muhammad, are among the senior most cricketers, who had launched Pakistan in the international arena. Imtiaz like Fazal had become a household name in the areas, now called Pakistan, even before Independence. He was a prolific scorer while appearing in Ranji Trophy and other All India competitions for Northern India.

After independence Imtiaz was in his elements to score centuries against redoubtable West Indies which included famous three (Worrel, Weeks and Walcott) and then against Ceylon turning up for Pakistan in unofficial Tests. His triple century at Bombay while playing for Prime Minister's Eleven against strong Commonwealth team won him wide acclaim including a pat from the then Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru. He became the backbone of the national team as a dashing batsman cum defendubla keeper, to make him indispensable for the Pakistan team. He naturally became the national captain in due course and is today the senior most and highly respected icon in Pakistan cricket.

The genial and truly gentleman cricketer, with whom my association goes back over half a century still cuts out the picture of his elegance which has been his hallmark. Like all of his old original team mates he is also self-effacing and has been supportive of his other colleagues, unlike the present lot.

I called Imtiaz and we talked of the good old days and the way things were moving in the future. Although we have been regularly in touch but had not met for some time. Imtiaz who had been a former chairman of Selection Committee and held managerial positions in the cricket board for some years like Fazal has not been closely associated with PCB for some time. His recent involvement with the women cricket and later as member of Ad hoc Committee are, therefore, a welcome development.

Imtiaz was nostalgic about the early days when Pakistan hosted Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and could barely cover tour expenses. Game was the case of 1952 Imtiaz tour, which brought Pakistan into official mainstream. There was no money for the cricket boards or players only the bare expenses and a pittance of daily allowance. Compare it with multi-million rupees packages of players of today and huge income going into PCB coffers, this looks like a dream.

Imtiaz, however, still recovering from the recent loss of his life long friend Fazal-says he has proposed the following steps to the PCB to commemorate the memory of someone whose services to Pakistan cricket are part of our history. These include:

(a) PCB should name the national Cricket Academy after Fazal Mahmood and called as "Fazal Mahmood Cricket Academy."

(b) Pak-England cricket series be played for "Fazal Mahmood Trophy" in remembrance of his Oval feat, on the lines of Ashes series.

(c) A "best bowler of the year award" be instituted in the name of Fazal.

This reminds me some three years back the family of late A.H. Kardar had graciously offered to place an amount to institute a trophy named after Kardar in national cricket. One has not heard anything about it since then. I hope PCB would take up the matter and duly inform public about its progress.

And finally Imtiaz is also keen to see former players being properly employed by PCB and that the welfare of cricket and cricketers is given the top most priority by the cricket authorities. They can certainly afford this given their present happy monetary position, which is a far or from those frugal early days when cricket board had to live on official grants and small donations.