One of gentle nature, Mian Pervez Akhtar, a first-class cricketer and a well-known administrator of the game, passed away on April 27. The 68-year old right-hand opening or middle order batsman, a product of Minto Park, Lahore, was a victim of coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic.
One of four sons of Mian Mohammad Afzal, Pervez was born in Lahore (Punjab), Pakistan, on November 5, 1952, in a family long settled inside Bhaati Gate, in the walled city. There was an immediate attraction to the game as his maternal grandfather – Mian Mohammad Hussain, was well known for his generosity and patronage of grassroots cricket, besides having twice borne expenses of Pakistan opening batsman Nazar Mohammad, to travel to UK by sea, to get his left arm fixed, badly damaged following an accident in 1953.
He joined Muslim Gymkhana in the late 1960s, that was founded by elder brother Mian Mohammad Aslam, an international umpire who later became part of the ICC elite panel. Pervez also followed him in representing Muslim Model HS, Lahore. At Minto Park, he was better known as Mian Payjee and his club competed in the junior section of the Wazir Ali Summer League – a major event in Lahore’s cricket calendar.
As a student at Government College, Lahore, where he enrolled in 1969, Pervez won selection for Lahore in the first ever National u-19 Championship in 1970-71. The squad, managed by Latif Butt, also featured Wasim Raja, Talat Ali, Agha Zahid, Sultan Rana, Afzal Masood, Masood Iqbal, Imran Khan and Majid Usman, returned home in one of the last passenger flights from Dacca to Lahore in February 1971, following their win in the final against East Pakistan Sports Federation (EPSF) at Dacca Stadium. A batsman who relied primarily on orthodox range of strokes, Pervez scored 69 against Sargodha at Lahore and 66 whilst adding 127 runs for the 2nd wicket with Afzal Masood (100), in the final.
On his first-class debut – Lahore B against Railways B at Railways Stadium, Lahore – in the 1971-72 BCCP Trophy, Pervez hit 120 in the second innings that remained his career-best. He would only score one more hundred in the rest of his career against Bahawalpur in the first round of the 1974-75 Punjab Tournament at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore. Although his unbeaten 62 in the final against Lahore A bowling attack led by Ehtesham-ud-din and Jamshed Hussain at the same venue, would have been more satisfying.
Later in the same winter, he was named captain of Lahore B in the Patron’s Trophy that beat both Sargodha and Peshawar, in an outright manner. In this period, Pervez would also win selection for Punjab B, Pakistan Universities, Punjab Whites and Punjab. Pakistan Customs was the first department that offered Pervez terms for two seasons in the earlier stages of his career.
In 1976-77 he was inducted in House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) as an opening partner to Babar Basharat. In 1983-84 he led the team in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and would return in the 1987-88 season to finish his first-class career. An innings of 91 (207 all out) for Servis Industries against Railways in the semi-final of the 1975-76 Servis Cup at Lahore, was his best in List A matches. His appeared in the 1992-93 Wills Cup competition for HBFC.
It is fair to say that he had the potential to progress further but for frequent switching over of teams in Pakistan domestic cricket. Pervez in his first-class career (1971-72 to 1987-88) scored 2277 runs @ 27.43 in 48 matches, with the best season aggregate of 533 runs @ 41.00, in 1975-76. With his occasional medium-pace, he returned figures of 4-36 (including Wallis Mathias) for House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) against National Bank at Multan in the 1976-77 Patron’s Trophy.
He featured strongly in Muslim Gymkhana’s eight consecutive title wins in All-Pakistan tournament in Multan in the 1980s. After his active playing days were over, Pervez was part of the management and focused on building a strong Young Muslim Gymkhana, the club’s second XI. He was appointed by PCB to act as Match Referee which included 26 first-class matches (1998-99 to 2012-13) besides supervising u-19 tournaments, Grade II cricket and National Women’s Cricket Championship. He featured as a player in matches organised by Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association. Following his brief association with Pakistan Deaf Cricket Association (PDCA), Pervez was part of both management and selection of North Zone of Lahore City Cricket Association (LCCA).
A resident of Sabzazar Colony in Lahore, Pervez lost his wife in 2020 and now is survived by two sons, a daughter. His once removed nephew, Taufeeq Umar, a left-handed opening batsman, represented Pakistan in 44 Tests and 22 ODIs in the period: 2001-14.
His another once removed nephew - Umar Fayyaz who is the head coach of Pakistan Deaf Cricket Team, recalls him as a very fine cricketer and true gentleman. He also adds that his uncle was a very jolly person and a true cricket lover and his services for the game will never be forgotten.
The writer is indebted to Mian Mohammad Aslam, Akhtar Butt, Agha Zahid, Umar Fayyaz and Nauman Aslam, for the obituary.