His cricket performance will remain immortal
Karachi—Lean, thin, short, shy and unassuming, Hanif Mohammad, was one of the greatest, and will remain so for a long, long time.
He left us for permanent abode Thursday August 11, 2016, but his achievements as one of the finest batsmen, gutsy and courageous, will be fresh in memory and on record books may be for time immemorial.
He had many a performances to his credit, rated among the 10 greatest batsmen of the world by Wisden at one time; he still holds the world record of scoring a triple century in second innings of a Test match, and that too, after being followed on.
The great West Indian batsman Brian Lara broke his record of highest first class innings of 499 during England tour, but could not reach the landmark of displaying determination unmatched till his retirement from Test and First class cricket.
He saved the Test match for Pakistan in the Caribbean, playing often from both ends to protect the tail from the fury of West Indians, thus showing to the world that a fighter never gives up. He did for his country, and the game of cricket, which not many could achieve in their careers, no matter how brilliant or how shining it was.
The contribution to the game of cricket, known as Gentlemen’s at one time, will be difficult to match, or even erase from Pakistan record books, as his family gave to the country, something which is rare and demands tremendous tributes.
Of the five brothers—Hanif, Wazeer, Rais, Mushtaq, Sadiq, four rose to Test levels and with envious records. Then a second generation Shoaib Moahmmad, too fitting into the shoes of his elders, though matching the greatness of Hanif and Mushtaq remained elusive for him.
Yet Shoaib will be remembered for some of his memorable knocks, double centuries, and match saving knocks, mostly as openers, providing tremendous platform for the lower order batsmen to benefit from.
No other cricketing family, at least in Pakistan, has given so much to the country as have Mohammad brothers, and then Hanif’s son. Pakistan owes a lot to them and should have something monumental in memory of such a giant personality.
Pakistan cricket has become poorer and orphaned today with his passing away at the age of 81, fighting cancer for a long time, and finally giving up in ventilator at a hospital in Karachi, the city where he did his schooling in Sindh Madressahtul Islam, bred and brought up, and spent his lifetime, being a model for budding cricketers and even stalwarts
Statistics would never be real portrayal of his stature as a world class player. It could be said for records sake, that he played for the Pakistani cricket team in 55 Test matches between 1952/53 and 1969/70 and averaged 43.98, with twelve hundreds. At his peak, he was considered one of the best batsmen in the world.
Test debut (cap 4) 6 October 1952 v India, Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m), Last Test 24 October 1969 v New Zealand
Batting style Right-handed
But an Indian newspaper like The Hindu, in print for over 100 years, paid him eloquent tributes, quoting him to say that in Hanif’s view Sachin Tendulkar was taller and bigger in size and characteristics that Sir Don Bradman of Australia.
Hanif scored his double centuries in his career, fetching victories for Pakistan against biggest and most powerful teams of the world, and standing as a stumbling block to save his side from humiliations of defeat.
Even after retirement from the game, he took managerial assignments for the game in PIA and later as caretaker of Hockey Club of Pakistan, and also the Jahangir Khan Squash Complex, once owned by PIA under Air Marshal Nur Khan.
As a person, I can quote my experiences with him. In 1978 on cricket revival with India under Nur Khan, I was asked by former Indian captain Nawab Patodi, editing Sunday magazine for Kolkatta chain of Anandbazar Patrika, to persuade Hanif to write on the 1978 three-Test series in Pakistan. Hanif agreed, but when paid for his works, he shared that money with me, despite my refusal, saying no Salahuddin, you were equally associated with the writing. I ghost wrote for him and Hanif was delighted.
He was a great human being, a thoroughbred gentleman. Witty and humorous and a lively company, cutting jokes, and enlightening the company he was in. He was a friend of the friends, a passionate father, and a loving family head. Shoaib will be a witness to that.