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Qadir’s unique, inimitable action and magical variations served Pakistan through 67 Tests and 104 One-day Internationals. He took 236 Test wickets and 132 ODI scalps. Qadir later served as chief selector for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and tried his hand at commentary as well. He was an outspoken critic of the PCB’s policies. Qadir is survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter who is married to current Pakistan star batsman Umar Akmal.
Qadir was a favourite of Pakistan’s former captain and current prime minister Imran Khan. He produced some of his best performances under Imran’s captaincy. Qadir’s biggest achievement was to keep the art of wrist spin alive during the 1970s and ’80s when fast bowlers dominated world cricket. PTI
Shane Warne was always a genius at work but Abdul Qadir was an everyday artist, who made googly fashionable much before the wizard from Victoria took world cricket by storm. The googly is synonymous with deception. It is a stock delivery for those bowling it and a shock delivery for those facing it. Qadir knew the art of deception, leaving befuddled batsmen in awe as they would chase shadows while taking the long walk back to the pavilion.
It is indeed irony that life deceived him in the end, a ‘googly’ he wasn’t ready for. But then no one ever is and nor was Qadir, as his son Suleman recounted after tragedy struck the family unnoticed. Qadir was watching the Ashes keenly, spending time with family in Lahore.
“He was fit although he loved to eat good food but he had maintained himself well,” a shocked Suleman said. “We didn’t expect he would suffer a cardiac arrest. It happened suddenly and by the time we reached hospital he had expired,” he recalled with tears in his eyes.
Qadir, 63, was perhaps one of the most colorful characters in Pakistan and world cricket in the late 1970s through the 80s. The bowling action, with a pronounced hip pivot, the flowing mane in his younger days and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he appealed were all trademark. Qadir was a crowd puller in a team that had Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Mohsin Khan and later Wasim Akram.
Mushtaq Ahmed modelled himself on Qadir and got fair amount of success, but he never had the aura, the sense that something could happen with every delivery. Qadir could bowl three leg breaks at different speeds and then suddenly bowl those “break backs” and watch like a hawk on follow through. He was from that school where a good shot would be applauded. Sledging then was all class and not crass.
It was no secret that when Imran captained Pakistan in the 1980s, he saw Qadir as his secret attacking weapon. In many matches, the legspinner didn’t let his skipper down, whether it was in Faisalabad against the mighty West Indies or in England. Qadir, who was fondly known as “Bao”, was Imran’s blue eyed boy.
“Imran pampered him a lot,” left-arm spinner Iqbal Qasim, who remained Qadir’s spin partner in many Tests, said. “Qadir was a phenomenon as a wrist spinner. He had endless variety in his bowling and he could bowl six different balls in one over. He loved out-thinking the batsmen. “He kept the art of wrist spin alive. We might never have seen the great Shane Warne, Anil Kumble or others if we wouldn’t have had a trailblazer like Qadir,” Qasim recalled. In the era of T20 cricket, where the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Imran Tahir (Qadir’s student) make big bucks, one wonders what Qadir’s market value would have been.
Post retirement, he did have a stint as chairman of selectors and also picked a fight with former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ejaz Butt to have Shoaib Akhtar in the team. He was one of the few who resigned from his post citing bureaucratic interference. “I will forever remain indebted to Qadir bhai for showing faith,” Akhtar said in his condolence message. PTI