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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Zaheer Abbas is born - the Asian Bradman

West Indies captain Darren Sammy (3rd L) receives the 2016 World T20 trophy from Zaheer Abbas (R)
West Indies captain Darren Sammy (3rd L) receives the 2016 World T20 trophy from Zaheer Abbas (R)
©Reuters

July 24, 1947 - It was in 1971 that the world first took notice of a tall, lean and bespectacled youth from Pakistan.

 

Playing only his second Test match, Zaheer Abbas scored 274 against England at Birmingham to give a sample of what he was made of. His next hundred in Test cricket was also a double ton, again against England at The Oval in 1974.

His maiden Test double had created enough excitement among the counties to be lining up to recruit him. Abbas picked Gloucestershire and remained loyal to the club till his last county appearance.

His record in international cricket is undoubtedly impressive, given the era in which he played. His batting average of 44.79 in Test cricket including 12 hundreds and 4 double hundreds puts him in a respected league.

At a time when ODIs were not played with anywhere close to the gusto with which they are now done, his 2,572 runs from 62 ODI games at an average of 47.62 and a strike rate of 84.80 are nothing short of excellent. A strike rate touching 85 in his era, is truly brilliant.

 

 

 But, more than his international numbers, his figures in First-class cricket are out of the world. Zed, as he came to be known, played 459 First-class games in which he scored a staggering 34,843 runs at an average of over 50. What is the most striking is that he scored more than 100 centuries across these games, 108 to be precise, which earned him the moniker of the Asian Bradman.

Abbas held a decent record against all teams except New Zealand and West Indies, but he took a special liking to India. In the 19 Test matches he played against India, Abbas averaged 87 with 1,740 runs and the best of 235 not out.

In the Test matches he played against India in Pakistan, Abbas went to a different level, averaging 158.55 with six centuries. However, due to his high back lift, Zaheer Abbas' game was not the most suited for overseas conditions and his figures show a clear distinction between his average at home and away. As opposed to his home average of 58.19, Abbas averaged 36.87 in away Tests.

He was also a man of many firsts and was the first Pakistan batsman to reach both the 4,000 and the 5,000-run milestones in Test cricket. In fact, when he finished his Test career with 5,062 runs, only Javed Miandad had crossed the 4000-run mark. He still stands tall as the 8th highest run-scorer for Pakistan in Test cricket.

Abbas was one of the players who signed up for Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket but once he was welcomed back into the international fold, he was at the peak of his powers. Abbas became the first batsman to score three consecutive ODI hundreds and one of only two batsmen to score 5 hundreds in consecutive international innings.

Another breathtaking record held by Zaheer Abbas is that he is the only batsman to have scored a century in each innings of a First-class game on 8 occasions. Out of which, he scored a double hundred and a hundred in the same match a shocking four times.

Abbas officiated as an ICC match referee in a Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies and three other ODIs. He was Pakistan's team manager in the famous Test when the Inzamam-ul-Haq-led team decided not to step on the field after the umpires charged the captain of ball-tampering.

In June 2015, Zaheer Abbas became only the third cricketer to be appointed the ICC President after Colin Cowdrey and Clyde Walcott.

 

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