A tribute to Hanif Mohammad : Pakistan's first cricketing hero


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  1. #1
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    A tribute to Hanif Mohammad : Pakistan's first cricketing hero

    A word of thanks to @KB for this brilliant tribute.


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    Abdul Hafeez Kardar left us in 1996. Fazal Mahmood departed in 2005. Now Hanif Mohammad has joined them. We take for granted the importance of cricket in Pakistan, with its status as the preeminent sport in the country unrivalled. It is easy to forget that this was not inevitable and that Kardar, Mahmood and Hanif did more than any other cricketers to cement the importance of the game in Pakistan.

    From the start, Pakistan cricket was faced with financial constraints, poor facilities and the lack of a strong grass-roots structure. Before partition, much of the funding for cricket came from non-Muslims, who were more dominant in industry, commerce and the professions. As Peter Oborne has pointed out in his recent history of the game in the country, Pakistan cricket began its life with no Test match grounds, only two turf pitches and no first class cricket competition. 
Government patronage was also lacking in the early years. Oborne reveals that in 1950-51, hockey and lawn tennis received grants of 15,000 rupees whereas cricket received nothing. The following year cricket did receive 15,000 rupees but this was less than the funding granted to lawn tennis and the Pakistan Olympic Association. Cricket’s journey to being the principal sport in Pakistan was therefore not pre-ordained.

    It is within this context that Pakistan’s relative success, for a new cricket nation, in the 1950s needs to be considered. Its success could be attributed to the fact that it did not start completely anew and inherited (an albeit scanty) cricket infrastructure; there was a competitive college system; patronage was forthcoming from some key influential figures; for AH Kardar, cricket was seen as part of nation-building exercise and an expression of Pakistani identity; there were matting pitches, particularly suited to Fazal's style of bowling and whilst Pakistan was born amidst great difficulties, there was a spirit of striving, improvisation and idealism. 


    But it also rested, crucially, on the presence of Fazal and Hanif. Of the first 57 Tests that Pakistan played, Hanif played 55 of them. His style might be considered anachronistic in today’s game. He was stout-hearted, a batsman that worked on grinding the opposition down, weakening them gradually through toil over an innings. The attributes of self-restraint, endurance and stamina were noted early in his career. Arriving as a 19 year old in England, the Times newspaper noted, “the schoolboy Hanif… has a rare gift of concentration and patience.” In one Test against England in 1964, he batted all day for an undefeated 64 in Dacca. This is not to say that he was bereft of stroke-play. In certain instances, he could score quickly. A Times report in the summer of 1954 noted that Hanif displayed “particularly attractive stroke-play.”

    Hanif was not an instant success. At the start of 1958, he averaged below 30 from 18 Tests. But his rise from this point, (signaled by the famous innings of 337 against the West Indies in 1958 and 499 in domestic cricket in 1959) coincided with the wider dispersal of chief radio transistors. Any game to become widely popular needs heroes and for many Pakistanis, listening to cricket on radio, Hanif would have been their first hero.

    His popularity was in spite of the defensiveness, which did occasionally attract adverse comment. Yet, one should not lose sight of the fact that Hanif played in difficult times. Pakistan cricket remained short of funds, indeed Mushtaq Mohammad and Khalid Ibadulla opted for a period to play county rather than international cricket, in order to make some sort of living. There was insufficient international cricket being played by Pakistan – they did not play any Tests in 1957 for instance – and after Fazal retired, there was a lack of potency in the bowling. It is hardly surprising, then, that a certain cricketing ‘asceticism’ was preferred by the tenacious Hanif.

    Hanif and more widely his family were also important in another, less commented, way. Families, such as the Mohammads and the Burki clan, provided informal networks of connection and continuity. As such they acted as a stabilising influence - important given the scanty nature of Pakistan’s cricket structure.

    Tributes to the diminutive Hanif Mohammad have focused on the qualities of his batsmanship. Yet the importance of the ‘original little master’ extended well beyond this. His legacy was to contribute significantly to the popularity of the game - a game that unites like no other - in Pakistan. And for this reason, Hanif Mohammad is one of the most significant cricketers ever to play for Pakistan. So long as Pakistan cricket lives, so too will Hanif’s legacy.

  2. #2
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    It's a lovely and well-deserved tribute.

    Having said that, I don't think of him as the FIRST Pakistan cricket hero.

    That to me will always be Fazal Mahmood, and the reason why Pakistan is in with a chance today of out-performing Australia and India by drawing their latest series in England is because his legacy of quick bowling has never died.

  3. #3
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    Brilliant tribute to the little master. I hope ICC will add his team mate Fazal in the HoF. He deserve it for making the Pakistan team so successful at a very early age.


    " It is true, Pakistan cricket is not defined by planning, it is not defined by team work and it is not defined by an entire match. It is defined by moments, moments of inspiration, moments of magic, moments when the unsung become the sung, when the world starts rotating in the opposite direction, when the abnormal becomes the normal, when delusion becomes logic – it is when the stars align. "

  4. #4
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    Lovely, amazing tribute bro. Very well done.


    Eat, Sleep, Back The Team....Repeat!

  5. #5
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    What an amazing personality and an equally amazing tribute to the grandmaster


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  7. #6
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    Excellent work from @KB

    Very enjoyable read.



  8. #7
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    Good read, even though he played at a time when Pakistan played very little test cricket, but his name is known to every Pakistani cricket fan


    "Life is Pain"
    ~House~

  9. #8
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    To me his name is immortal! There has always been and will always be a Hanif Mohammad for words of comfort and encouragement about Pakistan cricket.


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  10. #9
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    Would have been his birthday today

    We miss you Hanif

    May Allah SWT grant you an abiding place in Jannah, Ameen


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  11. #10
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    Historian of Pakistan cricket Richard Heller delivers lecture at SMIU

    Karachi

    The UK based historian of Pakistan cricket and renowned novelist Richard Heller has said that Master Aziz, a sports teacher and a coach of Sindh Madressatul Islam, had a great contribution in promotion of cricket in early days of Pakistan.
    Delivering the lecture on the subject of “Contribution of Sindh Madressatul Islam and Master Aziz towards promotion of cricket,” as a part of the international lectures, organized by SMIU at its auditorium on Monday, Richard Heller said that Master Aziz was Durrani by clan and basically was hailing from Afghanistan. Later, he came to Sindh from Afghanistan in 1930’s and was appointed as a sports teacher at Sindh Madressatul Islam.
    Heller said that Master Aziz had trained a number of the best cricketers including Little Master Hanif Mohammad, his brothers and others. While his son Saleem Durrani was the only and first cricketer of Afghanistan and firstly played there.
    Later Saleem had become a most important test player in India after Partition, but Hanif Mohammad was a great player than him.
    Richard Heller added that at that time cricket was encouraged at school, college and university levels, and these were the institutions that were producing good cricketers.
    Adding to it, he said that today the situation has been changed in Pakistan and even in England. “Cricket is also in trouble on school, college and university levels in England, due to the academic pressures on students,” Heller said and maintained that the students of the England mostly give preference to their study rather than the cricket; this is why the situation has been changed in England too. He suggested that Sindh Madressatul Islam University may get lead in revival of cricket in schools, colleges and universities like its past.
    He further said that security situation has improved mostly in big cities of Pakistan; therefore the PCB may invite visiting cricket teams from England and other countries to Pakistan to play in schools, colleges and universities of the country.
    Talking on the history of Pakistan cricket, Richard Heller said that a lot of the material of cricket in Pakistan has been lost. No one had preserved it except a few pictures and some stories, but young generation should collect the history of Pakistan cricket and upload it online for the world. Earlier, Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, Vice Chancellor of Sindh Madressatul Islam University, in his welcome address thanked Richard Heller for delivering lecture to the students of SMIU.

    https://pakobserver.net/historian-pa...-lecture-smiu/

  12. #11
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    Two years since he passed away.

  13. #12
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    Google Doodle 337 for legend.

  14. #13
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    This is one of the best tributes to the legend I have read in a while.


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  15. #14
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    He passed away 3 years ago.

  16. #15
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    A sad day for Pakistan cricket. Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s were practically a one man batting unit with Hanif fighting so many lonely battles.

  17. #16
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    The great Hanif Mohammad was born today.


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  18. #17
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    One of the greatest.

  19. #18
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    Another sad anniversary of his passing away.

    Pakistan cricket owes a lot to the little master - May he rest in eternal peace - Ameen


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  20. #19
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    Never saw him live. Seems like he had a pretty good record.


    Bangladeshi Man

  21. #20
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  22. #21
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    Last edited by KoyoAli; 21st December 2020 at 16:49.

  23. #22
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  24. #23
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    A sad day for us - he passed away on 11th August in 2016 - May ALLAH swt grant Hanif Sahib the highest rank in Jannah - Ameen


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  25. #24
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    Man, I still miss this man. What a legend!


    If there is a better batsman than Sachin then he hasn't arrived yet: Viv Richards

  26. #25
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  27. #26
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    Here are some old photos of Hanif and Fazal. Movie stars wished they looked like them:





    https://www.thefridaytimes.com/when-the-eaglets-dared/

  28. #27
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    The original little master. Along with A H Kardar and Fazal Mehmood these three gentlemen lay the foundations of Pak Cricket.


    PP's own self proclaimed sharpshooter and defender of Islam and Pakistan.

  29. #28
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    Original little master.
    Legendary name in Pakistan cricket history.
    Don't know why he is yet to be selected in ICC hall of fame.

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