Imran Khan Cricketer
Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi HI PP is a Pakistani politician and former cricketer who is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Pakistan
Full name Imran Khan Niazi
Born October 5, 1952, Lahore, Punjab
Current age 66 years 59 days
Major teams Pakistan, Dawood Club, Lahore,New South Wales, Oxford University,Pakistan International Airlines, Sussex, Worcestershire
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast
Batting Career Summary
Bowling Career Summary
In a nutshell
In the league of extraordinary gentlemen with remarkable achievements beyond the cricketing realm, Imran Khan would rank among the topmost in the modern era. It all started with the long locks, charming good looks, an energetic gallop to the crease, a gazelle’s leap, and a projectile swerving around the clueless bat, headed inevitably towards the base of the stumps. 26 years before his orotund, plummy voice and his way with words made him the prime minister of his country, he picked up the microphone in Melbourne, 10,000km from his homeland, and delivered a rousing speech at the culmination of perhaps the greatest fairy tale in the history of cricket.
How it all began…
Born in an affluent family in Lahore after the partition, Imran completed his schooling in the Royal Grammar School of Worcester where he pursued cricket for the first time and excelled at it. His evident talent with the ball paved the way for him into the Worcestershire county, as he decided to focus on cricket. He started to play in the county fold for Worcestershire, and before long, he made his international debut for Pakistan whilst still a teenager. From 1972 to 1975, he enrolled in Kebble College, Oxford, to study Politics, Economics and Philosophy and managed the workload of international cricket simultaneously to graduate with honors at the age of 23. And hence began an extraordinary journey.
The journey of International cricket begins
After his graduation from Oxford, he returned to the Pakistan team in 1976 and secured a spot for himself. He hit headlines when, in 1978, he was declared the 3rd fastest bowler in the world at Perth, ahead of greats like Dennis Lillee and Andy Roberts. With a typically curved run-up to the crease, Imran was doing things with the cricket ball that were previously unheard of. Swing at pace, swing against the direction of the seam, and at 30, at the peak of his powers, he picked up a jaw-dropping 62 wickets in 9 Test matches at an average of 13.29 - the lowest of all-time in a calendar year for over 50 wickets.
Style of play
Having spent a lot of his time with the Duke ball in England, Imran honed his ability to swing the cricket ball in the UK, and perfected the release of both the inswinger and the outswinger, as his free-flowing action, followed by his thick mane of hair, seemed to be a prelude to the sonnet that was every curving delivery out of his hand. He was also a benefactor of Sarfraz Nawaz's bequest of reverse-swing - an art with a prerequisite of countering physics aside with sheer pace, and forcing the fluid pressure gradient between either side of the cricket ball to flip with breakneck speeds.
Often demolishing oppositions with the old ball and new, Imran mastered the art of shining the old ball and achieving fast contrast swing (often referred to as counter swing) as well as reverse-swing to decimate the clueless oppositions for years on end. He has even admitted to ball-tampering, the use of foreign substances on the ball, raising the seam of the ball, and deliberate roughening of the surface to achieve the conditions for reverse-swing by force, citing the reason that there was never a law disallowing him from altering the condition of the ball.
Imran's batting was a rather underrated skill, often earning him the title of a \"middle-order slogger\". However, his statistics, particularly in the twilight of his Test career (a Test average of over 50 in his last 10 years/51 games of Test cricket) suggest otherwise. He was a compact batsman, with a natural ability to play strokes, and a solid defence. With a particularly high backlift, he had some trouble against the seaming ball, which no batsman of his age was comfortable with. He was solid in his defence too, having played out sessions for his team when required. In the '92 World Cup, due to an inexperienced batting order, he promoted himself to the top of the order and played the new ball exceedingly well to reinforce his reputation as one of the most versatile and holistic all-rounders of his generation.
Hitting the peak
Among the quartet of all-rounders (Botham, Hadlee, Kapil Dev, and Imran), Imran was arguably the most consistent and balanced, averaging 37 with the bat and 22 with the ball. Even in his last 10 years of international cricket, in 51 Tests, Imran’s batting average exceeded 50. His batting excellence and an average of 19 with the ball, meant and he became perhaps the only all-rounder after Sir Garfield Sobers, who could merit a place in the side with either one of his skills.
His performances against West Indies, the best side of the era, were extraordinary too, as Imran’s Pakistan drew three series with them - a praiseworthy achievement in a period when every other team was demolished by the pace quartet alone. He also checked another box as he led Pakistan to a series victory in England, and used his experience of playing in the country to educate his teammates. What’s more, he led from the front with a 10-wicket maiden in the decider at Lord's, not to mention a series average of 56 with the bat. Having just started off as a captain, he was at the peak of his cricketing abilities at the time.
The leader of men
Decades before he took upon himself to hold the reins of his country, he started off on a smaller scale, leading an army of eleven men, armed with a mind that was a source of envy for captains around the world, a suave and enigmatic personality, the tactical nous of a genius, and the prescient foresight of a soothsayer. Imran was a charismatic hero who had the brains and the brawn to add to his suave and sophisticated personality to inspire his teammates to accomplish the unthinkable.
After a borderline ridiculous streak of 13 Tests in which he aggregated 88 wickets, Imran had his first tryst with injury, as he picked up a stress fracture on his shin. A national icon by then, Imran’s treatment was funded by the Government of Pakistan and as a part of an experimental treatment, he recovered by the end of the 1984-85 season. He returned to the fold as captain and won a series against arch-rivals India in their own den.
In the aftermath of the 1987 World Cup, co-hosted by India and Pakistan, Imran Khan retired from international cricket after his team failed to get past the semi-final stage. However, upon President Zia-ul-Haq’s request, he made a comeback into international cricket in 1988 with the World Cup of 1992 in sight. After his comeback, he went on to win an away Test series against the mighty West Indies - a crowning achievement in the realm of Test cricket in the ‘80s. He contributed handsomely with 23 wickets in 3 Tests, and claims that it was \"the last time I really bowled well.”
The charismatic leader that Imran was, he assembled a relatively brittle batting line-up filled with rookies and an aging Javed Miandad, along with a young Wasim Akram. After a poor start to the tournament and a few fortuitous rain-marred games, it seemed like the crouching tigers of Pakistan were destined for victory. Fittingly, on the day of the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Imran Khan took the final wicket and became the face of the World Cup win as he took up the microphone on the podium and delivered a rousing speech as World Champions Pakistan bathed in glory and an extraordinarily meritorious career culminated in a fairy tale climax. At the age of 39, the aging gladiator led the army he built to World Cup glory in the world’s toughest backyard.
An Inspiration Imran Khan Cricketer
Undoubtedly the greatest cricketer to have braced Pakistan, Imran Khan’s excellence transcends statistics. It eclipses trophies, medals, and titles. On the unrelenting flatbeds of Pakistan, Imran Khan’s persona infected and inspired an entire nation of teenagers to take up fast-bowling. Imran was that hero, that wizard, who virtually conjured live grass on a 22-yard desert in Pakistan as the world gaped in awe. Pakistan owes him Nawaz, Wasim, Waqar, a World Cup and several young doppelgangers carrying the legacy of Imran Khan; The world owes him for popularizing the art of reverse-swing. Spot a left-arm pacer in Pakistan, you'll glimpse a Wasim Akram; you spot a right-arm pacer in Pakistan, there’s dwells a discernible Imran Khan within: Pakistan's hero who retired - or did he?