Pakistan cricket could never thank Imran Kahn enough for his contribution to the national sport. He was a prodigious talent, nay, the consummate cricketer – nay, he was just a genius!
In 1982 he took 62 wickets at an average of 13.29 runs per wicket. For any bowler with more than 50 wickets in a year, this remains the lowest in Test history to this day. An Indian commentator once said of Imran that, when he came on to bowl, the Hindu god Bagwan came down to earth to see this beautiful scene for himself.
Between January 1, 1987, and January 6, 1992, he averaged 59.69 in Test cricket. This for a No 6 batsman! In 1992 Pakistan won the World Cup with Imran as captain. Also on that team were players like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and the great Inzamam Ul Haq. The latter was only included at Imran’s insistence after the board had accused him of being lazy. It was not laziness – it was greatness. All great players appear nonchalant – they have oodles of time to play their shots.
Another example would be the great South African Graeme Pollock. Don Bradman said of him, “One of the two finest left-handed players I ever saw.” The other was Sir Garfield Sobers. Only four players with more than 2,000 runs averaged over 60 in Test cricket – Pollock was second in that list only to Bradman.
However, my admiration for Imran Khan dimmed after he entered politics. He is known to have courted Islamic extremist groups and was very outspoken in condemning the West for the mayhem in the region, especially in Afghanistan. I wrote some years back that what was once a cricketing giant had become an intellectual, spiritual and political dwarf. Political dwarf no more!
Imran, what you did for Pakistan cricket you can now do for your country. I hope and pray that that country of contradictions and terrorism will again take its rightful place in the world. You have the talent!