Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Precedent for Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith showed some serious guts in the Third Test against Australia by batting with a broken arm. And he almost saved South Africa in what was an enthralling test.

His performance brings to mind a similarly courageous performance more than 22 years ago (wow, I'm feeling very, very old right now!). On the way back from school in Islamabad, my bros and I turned on the radio to get the latest on the first test between Pakistan and West Indies in October 1986. Pakistan, in its second innings, had established an overall lead of around 200 against the mighty Windies when they lost their ninth wicket. Given that Saleem Malik's arm was broken by a Windies pacer in the first innings, we were sure the innings was over.

As we were contemplating the solidity of the lead, the radio commentator in typically dramatic radio commentary style (anyone who listened to Pakistan radio commentary in the 1980s knows what I'm talking about) announced that Saleem Malik was (*gasp*) making his way toward the pitch!!! We couldn't believe it! We rushed home and were able to make it in front of the TV before Malik faced his first ball.

We were mesmerized as Malik defended, avoided, and even steered the fierce deliveries of the likes of Marshall, Patterson, Gray, and Walsh, all with one hand in a cast and one holding the bat. This was truly dramatic, legendary, and heroic stuff, especially for an impressionable 10 year-old who had just recently become addicted to cricket (a certain Sharjah match a few months prior did it for me!).

Malik's presence at the crease allowed Wasim Akram to get his first test fifty, and stretch Pakistan's lead to a more comfortable 240. Incredibly, Malik remained not out, and scored 3 runs in an eventual partnership of 32.

Now, the West Indies were demolished in the second innings and were dismissed for just 53! (I think it was their lowest total at the time). Qadir with six and Imran with four were the chief destroyers.

It's tempting to say that Malik's heroics were unnecessary given the large margin of victory. But I like to think it was Malik's presence at the pitch that won the mental game for Pakistan, and the West Indies could not recover. I felt that way all those years ago, and I feel the same way today!

Thank you Saleem Malik for this memorable contribution, and so many other classic innings. Malik's contributions are often disregarded because of his unwise and dishonorable involvement in certain off-field activities. But the fact remains that he was a great player and contributed a lot to Pakistan with the bat (and, on occasion, with the ball as well!).

Make your pitch on this post...

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33 Pitched:

  1. Anonymous said...

    Graeme was absolutely braveheart today :)

    Malik, well i remember his contribution in 1999 Kolkata test when he along with Moin drove pak to 188 from 6/26 after Srinath beauty!!

    Needless to say my fav Wasim Akram ate up Indian ambition of a victory in Eden garden :)

  2. Q said...

    Malik was awesome Sledge.. I remember another innings of his with a broken hand/arm.. it was in Eden Garden I believe where he hit a whirlwind 70 odd of 30 something deliveries in an ODI to lead Pak to victory.. He practically batted with 1 hand in that match.. i'll try and look up the link for that scorecard and also find a report if i can..

    As for the match u mention Sledge.. i was way too young to remember that.. i have vague memories of the Miandad 6 cos I was at the ground but this test I had only heard of much later..

  3. David Barry said...

    It's interesting how the cricket lore we know is shaped by what country we're from. I had never heard that story about Malik. In Australia, when we think of badly injured men going out to bat, we think of Rick McCosker in the Centenary Test (picture of him here).

    Though I'm sure there were others before him. The oldest such heroic story I know of is of Alfred Mynn's in 1836, described here.

  4. SledgeHammer said...

    @Q: Yeah yeah...I'm an oldie...rub it in!!! ;)

    The Calcutta ODI innings in 1987 was unbelievable - one of my all-time fav innings and ODIs. I don't remember him batting with one hand (out of injury or choice), but he hit 72 off 36 deliveries to take Pakistan to a very unlikely win in the final over. I remember watching that on TV as if it were yesterday!

    Here's the scorecard and report.

    That 1987 Pak-India series was such an amazing series. Besides the classic Bangalore test, there were a host of great ODIs, including a tied match that was awarded to India on fewer wickets. Gavaskar also hit his 10,000th Test run.

  5. SledgeHammer said...

    Here's a piece from the Wisden Almanack about the Calcutta ODI:

    Coming in when 78 runs were needed at more than 10 an over, Malik produced some amazing shots and hit a six and eleven fours as he turned the tables.

  6. Anonymous said...

    I remember that one... It was all that added to Malik's aura that soon made him the top guy for the country.

    Legendary stories... there was also one with Malcolm Marshall bowling with a broken hand or something along those lines.

    But at the end of the day bravery is also the biggest offshoot of stupidity.

  7. Anonymous said...


    I still remember that calcutta match he struck Kapil 5 consecutive boundaries he was too awesome.

    He was one of my favorites until he disgraced himself.

    I still remember when he was given his first chance against West Indies in a 3 day match at that time Micheal Holding was the most fearsome bowler in the world Malik at that time never used to wear a Helmet, Holding bowled him five bouncers all of them hooked to the boundary by Malik but Holding had the last laugh as on the sixth one he got Malik.

  8. straight point said...

    upto the wi link it was ok but why are yo rubbing in with that odi link sledge & Q... ;-))

    that was some innings from malik that match still hurts... :(

  9. karachikhatmal said...

    unlike you guys, some of us were still infants in the 80s and so only know about saleem malik's heroics through folk lore. perhaps if i had seen that innings i would have refrained from christening him saleem satta...

    however, with regards to sam's comments about the calcutta (kolkata?) match in 1999, i suggest you see the match again. for about twenty minutes since he came to the crease, saleem satta seemed to be trying to get out. twice his edges went through the slips, and catchable chances were missed. the best part was the look of bewilderment on saleem malik's face, and the rising temper on dawood ibrahim's ( the last part my or may not be true)

  10. Anonymous said...

    @KK, whatever he did, he did turn the game away from Indians :)

  11. SledgeHammer said...

    @Straight Point: Hey man, Pakistan fans have not had much to cheer about over the last few years. So at least let us search the archives for memorable moments!!! ;)

  12. SledgeHammer said...

    @karachi khatmal: Folklore and batting prowess aside, he remains Saleem Satta for his off-field contributions.

  13. Q said...

    @Sledge: Im not all that much older than you as Karachi Khatmal has reminded us ;-)

    Thanks for the links. That 87 series was the first cricket series I ever saw as an aware fan..

  14. Q said...

    DB that is very true.. we grow up listening to stories about the cricketing heroes from the country you belong to.. just like you listen to / read about the historical personalities pertaining to your country of birth..

    I had never heard of McKosker or Mynn but those links u gave are some neat stories!

  15. Q said...

    Sam - braveheart is an understatement..

    And that Eden test u mention was quite a match. Wasim bhai was completely in his element!

    Moin's innings though was the highlight.

  16. Q said...

    Scorps - I heard abt the Marshall one..

    Amidst all this, I wonder why no one has mentioned Kumble and his effort with a broken jaw...

  17. Q said...

    SP - I second Sledge there... those were some great times for Pakistan cricket and we were lucky to witness them. Sadly the kids growing up in these times are completely put off cricket... we need to pick up quick.. for that we need to start playing quick.

  18. Q said...

    Wasim - Malik was the man till he disgraced himself as Karachi Khatmal points out.

    Sadly he was too good and too smart for his own good. And again its unfortunate that some people just saw him during the fixing days and not before that which defined what Saleem Malik was.

    He was pure genius.

    Even when fixing a game - batting through the innings, running partners out, getting pak close to the target, and when all batsmen were gone to throw his wicket away. It definitely required skill.

    He had it.

    Sadly he used it the wrong way.

  19. Anonymous said...


    I already stated that he was one of my favorites until he disgraced himself.

    Karachi Khatmal:

    There is nothing wrong to cherish the memories of his good innings, he was a good player until we lost him to the devil.

  20. obaid said...

    I dont remember seeing this innings of Malik's but I do remember hearing about it. I think in the same series or one soon after with the Windies, Qadir got hit on the head by a bouncer... after a prolonged injury timeout he took guard again and then decided to charge the bowler.

    I remember what the commentator said (to Q's point about sensationalist commentary in Urdu): "Aur qadir dimaghi tawazun kho bethay hain!!!"

    That translates to "And Qadir has lost his mental balance!"

    I wonder if we can find above commentary somewhere? Its definitely more entertaining than Pakistan cricket at the moment

  21. Q said...

    I was agreeing with you Wasim :-)

  22. Q said...

    Obaid, I remember that match with Qadir and i actually remember that comment as well - it was Chishty Mujahid i think...

    As for sensationalist commentary - it was Sledge who wrote abt it, not me :-) ... he's definitely listened to more radio commentary than i have...

  23. SledgeHammer said...

    Man, I loved radio commentary. During class in Pakistan I used to keep a transistor radio in my pocket, slip the earbud under my shirt, and put my collars up to keep my ear hidden from the teacher's eyes!

    In those days the radio commentators weren't fully isolated from crowd noise. So you'll hear something like this:

    "Pakistan aur West Indies kay darmiyan sansani khaiz ka muzahira ho raha hai yahan Qazzafi stadium mein. Marshall bowling kay liyay tayyar. Miandad samna kar rahay hain. Teen slip, gully, third man....Tezi say Marshall wicket ki teraf jaa rahay hain. Wicket par ponchay. Gaind kee."

    And then you'll hear some crazy crowd noise - you can't make out a thing the commentator is saying, but in between you hear something like "choka" or "chakka" or "boundary kay paar"!

    Amazing stuff. Good memories. Hasan Jalil was one of the great Urdu commentators. Muneer Hussain was good too. As for English, Omar Kureshi was the king of radio (though his best days were even before my time, according to my dad, who also admired Jamshed Marker's commentary). Chishti Mujahid was good too, but a bit too serious. Took pride in saying the full names of cricketers and pronouncing them with extreme emphasis on some of the consonants ("Krrrrrissssshhhhnamachhhhrrrriii Srrrrikkkantttthhh!).

    Iftikhar was a better TV commentator because he lacked the detail necessary for radio. His most famous narration on TV, of course, is: "Last ball coming up, four runs required...and he hits a SIX! And Pakistan have won! Unbelievable victory by Pakistan. And Javed Miandad the hero of the moment. This is unbelievable. Just look at the crowd there. Miandad the great they shout. Miandad the great. And the crowd here is simply erupting."

    (I typed that straight out of memory in just a few seconds, and I could go on a bit! I think it's a fairly accurate regurgitation. Apologies for my obsession with that Sharjah match.)

  24. Anonymous said...

    I liked Omer Qureshi, Iftikhar and Hassan Jalil.

  25. Q said...

    Thats quite a memory sledge.. the ifti one about the 6 is pretty much spot on!

    I grew up outside Pakistan so don't have that many radio commentary memories.. only when i would visit in the summers would i get the chance to listen to some..

  26. karachikhatmal said...

    hahaha... i meant the comment about you guys being old as a joke, but then the reminiscing about radio commentary has me in awe, as well as respect for my elders :P

    also, as Q mentioned, saleem satta's fixing skills were really world class as well. lets not get carried away with the evil and devil remarks though - cuz a lot more people were involved in match fixing, and if we called them all evil we would have to describe what some call the left arm of god as evil, and that would be sacreligious.

    but the best thing i ever read about match fixing was on a banner on an australian ground which made clear that messers waugh and warne weren't free of blame either, it was just the color of their skin and the strength of their board that kept their name clean. anyways, here's what the banner said

    "weather is fine, pitch is flat
    5ooo dollars, just for that"

  27. SledgeHammer said...

    @Q: I really only lived in Pakistan from 85-89. But it was those years when cricket became a part of me. Some very good years - various Sharjah tournaments, Pak tours of India, WI, and England in 1987, WC 87, Nehru Cup, etc.

    One tidbit if radio commentary. Not sure if anyone recalls the B&H Challenge in 1987, specifically the match between Pak and Australia, when Asif Mujtaba played the innings of a lifetime. Anyhow, just as the last over started, I think it was 6 PM Pak Standard Time. Millions of nervous Pakistani fans were tuned into the radio to see if this young boy could pull off a miraculous victory.

    And guess what??? Radio Pakistan cut to the news!!! Effing unbelievable! And in their sport brief, they uneventfully announced that Pakistan had won.

    It is rumored that Zia-ul-Haq, a massive cricket fan, was very displeased as he was also listening to the commentary. I shudder to think what would have happened to anyone who pissed off Zia!

  28. Q said...

    thats true Khi Khatmal.. there were quite a few of the cricketers in those days who were involved. Only Malik, Azhar, and Cronje paid the price.

  29. Q said...

    @Sledge: That can happen only in Pakistan Sledge... I remember watching pakistan vs england on PTV during the summers (87,92,96) and they would always break for the 7pm english news and 9pm urdu news.. very frustrating!

    As for the radio commentary.. I remember following a lot of the 92 Pak vs Eng series on radio - largely because of load shedding and not being able to watch it on TV.. i followed the entire Lord's victory march by Wasim and Waqar - that remains my best radio moment..

    Here's a post that obaid did over a year ago about radio commentary - u will enjoy it:

  30. SledgeHammer said...

    Thank for the Obaid post. Yes, that's some classic stuff. A wonderful read. Great comments as well.

    In addition to Pakistani commentators, I remember listening to Tony Cozier's radio commentary for the classic (and eventually heartbreaking) 1987 series in WI. My bros and I used to copy him when we played, using words like appealin' and convincin' and leadin'!

    Cozier is a class act. I'm glad the media stand in Barbados is named after him.

  31. Q said...

    Cozier even on TV today is one of the best!

  32. karachikhatmal said...


    that lords match on the radio - was it not being telecast in Pakistan, because a lot of people remember hearing the final outcome on the airwaves.

    it was crazy exciting though... finally a piece of nostalgia i can relate to...

    @ Sledgehammer, 02:31 am

    didn't that asif mujtaba match happen in 96, if i'm not wrong, where he hit the last ball for six to tie the match..? unless he had repeated heroics down under... i remember him being hit on the groin in that match, and then proceeding to strip down to his boxers in the middle of the pitch...

  33. Q said...

    @Karachi Khatmal:

    I don't know about the rest but that summer in 1992 I was in Islamabad for the summer holidays and I was following the tour to England LIVE on PTV. The matches were being telecast but on the final day of the Lord's test the light was gone for the entire day. Load shedding! I remember sitting in my lawn all day with my ear stuck to the radio.

    I listened to the entire chase.

    During the series there were numerous other instances when the light had gone or PTV had taken a break for news when I had turned to the radio.

    As for Asif Mujtaba, he had pulled of the impossible twice in his career.

    Believe it or not but Mujtaba made his debut as a 19 year old back in 1986-87 and in only his 4th ODI in Jan 87 he led Pakistan to a last ball 1 wkt victory over Australia at Perth with an unbeaten 60.


    He did the same again, not in 1996 as u mention, but in 1993 when he hit the finall ball of the innings for a 6 to tie the match.


    Mujtaba could never live up to his potential. He disappeared in 1987 after failing in his 1st season. Besides that 60* he didn't do anything else of note. He resurfaced in 1992 after the World Cup and stuck around for 3 years or so. He displayed spurts of brilliance but was never consistent enough.

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