Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Ramiz Raja is born - upright man who shares his birthday with Pakistan's Independence Day
August 14, 1962 - Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja was born on the same date as Pakistan's Independence Day and thankfully, he remained a man of integrity in the period when several of his teammates unfortunately got embroiled in match-fixing.
Ramiz was born on the 15th anniversary of Pakistan's Independence and was the youngest of the three Raja brothers. All three of them went on to play First-Class cricket for Pakistan with his elder brother Wasim Raja being particularly popular. Their father, Raja Saleem Akhtar, also played First-Class cricket.
When Ramiz first appeared on the international circuit, his elder brother Wasim was in the twilight of his career. The duo became only the second set of brothers to play test cricket for Pakistan after Mohammad Hanif, Mohammad Mushtaq, Mohammad Wazir and Mohammad Sadiq.
Ramiz clicked right away and scored half-centuries in both his first two ODIs. In test matches, the start wasn't that smooth and Ramiz had to wait for more than two years to bring up his maiden century.
Ramiz was one of those batsmen who is a delight to watch. Particularly, his watertight defence and leg side play was to die for.
However, his numbers do not reflect that. From 57 test matches, Ramiz Raja averages 31.83 with just two test centuries and 22 half-centuries. He had a much longer run in ODI cricket where he played 198 matches and scored at an average of 32.98 with 9 centuries and 31 half-centuries.
His overall average in ODIs may not be that impressive, but Raja was a big-match player and starred in both the 1987 and the 1992 World Cups.
In the 1987 Reliance World Cup, Raja averaged 49.86 from 7 matches with 349 runs and scored one century and two half-centuries with the best of 113.
He played a massive role in Pakistan's title victory in the 1992 World Cup where he batted at an average of 58.17 with 349 runs from 8 matches with two centuries and two half-centuries. In fact, Raja became only the second batsman after Viv Richards to score 3 World Cup hundreds. While Richards played 19 WC matches, Ramiz took just 13 matches for the same.
Interestingly, Ramiz caught Richard Illingworth off Imran Khan in the final over of the 1992 World Cup, which Pakistan famously won, to become the first-ever cricketer to take a catch on the last ball of a World Cup.
Raja was made skipper towards the end of his career in the 1990s, bang in the middle of a turbulent phase for the Pakistan team, which had been hit hard by fixing allegations.
“The (Pakistan Cricket) Board wanted a clean environment, a clean dressing room which could just concentrate on the game of cricket. We were coming out of an extremely turbulent time, where everybody was being pointed at for selling the game and all that kind of stuff. The motive was to clean the air, clean the act, have a perfect cricket dressing room,” Raja said in a recent interview.
After leading Pakistan in 22 ODIs, Raja's MBA degree from the respected Aitchison College in Lahore and his leadership ability came in handy when he was appointed as the first CEO of the Pakistan Cricket Board in 2003. He did a remarkable job, including the successful conduction of the first Indian visit to Pakistan for a full tour in 2004, after a gap of 15 years.
Raja quit the job in 2004 and has since been an extremely popular commentator.
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