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Farewell to Zaman Park veterans

With all eyes on Pakistan’s fluctuating fortunes in the 2019 World Cup, Zaman Park, Lahore was in mourning, in the month of June, as it said farewell to two of its noted cricketers – Humayun Zaman and Ijaz Khan. Although the present generation of Zaman Park have failed to follow the strong sporting traditions of its ancestors, the combined total of first-class cricketers amongst the Khans and Burkis of Jullundury Pathans, is 45, both in prior and post partition of British India in 1947.

With a bit of fortune, both Humayun and Ijaz, had the talent for national honours in their prime in the 1960s, but it was not to be. Zaman Park, named after Khan Bahadur Mohammad Zaman Khan, which now houses a large number of Jullundur-based Pathans, has been a great nursery for sportsmen. In fact the triangle consisting of Zaman Park, Aitchison College and Lahore Gymkhana, inevitably dominated cricket in various districts of Punjab, most notably Lahore.

Humayun Zaman

Humayun Zaman Khan, was born in Jullundur (Punjab), British India, on January 31, 1936 in a strong sports family clan that had featured All India Test cricketers in – Jehangir Khan, Baqa Jilani – and a fair amount of representation in Olympics in a number of disciplines, most notably hockey. 

Humayun was the eldest of the three sons of Khan Bahadur Mohammad Zaman Khan, who served as the Post Master General, Punjab in British India and had the resources to build a 7-bedroom house in Lahore, as early as in 1940, only the second Muslim family in the Canal Bank area, before retiring in 1943-44. Humayun was cousin to sisters, Iqbal Bano, Naima Khanum and Shaukat Khanum, respective mothers of Javed Burki, Majid Khan and Imran Khan, three of the best cricketers to emerge from Zaman Park, with all going on to captain Pakistan.

Of a typical Pathan stock with height and strong physique at his disposal, at Aitchison College, Humayun emerged as a keen sportsman and featured in no less than three disciplines, i.e. cricket, football and hockey.  In his adopted home town of Lahore, Humayun, a stylish right-hand batsman, more than useful medium-fast bowler plus a very fine slip fieldsman, with numerous match-winning feats to his name for Aitchison College, Government College  whom he joined in 1953 and captain in 1957 and Lahore Gymkhana, who he led till 1975.

In a Punjab University Championship fixture, in 1955 Humayun hit 230 for Government College against Forman Christian (F.C), College in Lahore. In January 1956, Humayun was one of three Government College students, besides Ijaz Butt and Javed Burki, to make his first-class debut, when picked for Pakistan Universities against the touring MCC ‘A’ at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore. Following that, he was to have three successful seasons in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, the country’s premier first-class tournament. 

He justified his inclusion in the 1957-58 Punjab team with a nine-wicket haul and battling unbeaten 57 in the semi-final defeat against Karachi ‘C’ at Karachi Parsi Institute (KPI) Ground. With a natural outswing in his armoury, Humayun’s end of the season haul of 21 wickets @ 13.42, placed him amongst the top bowlers in the country. His selection for 1958 Pakistan Eaglets to England was confirmed by Justice A.R.Cornelius, only for the family to intervene and replace him with his nephew Farrukh Ahmed (son of Agha Ahmed Raza Khan), who was considered, a more promising paceman.

 In the following season (1958-59), he took the new ball with Fazal Mahmood, captain of Lahore and also shone with the bat with 58 and 81 to his name, in the semi-final against Combined Services at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore. Though, once again ending on the losing side. On the first morning Lahore had slipped to a dismal 52-7 when Humayun and S.F.Rehman (76) fought hard to add 135 for the 8th wicket - a national record in the domestic cricket till 1963-64. Humayun was one of the young all-rounders invited for the training camp held in Karachi, prior to the 1959-60 Australian team’s tour to Pakistan, but did not progress any further.

On a personal note Humayun become one of the few selected bowlers to dismiss the great Hanif Mohammed, twice in the same match, but his luck did not change as Lahore lost to Karachi by 99 runs in the 1959-60 final at Karachi.

Humayun also represented Lahore against the 1959-60 touring Indian Starlets at Sialkot, before his absence of almost four year from the first-class scene.  During this period, an opportunity to climb the ladder was missed when he withdrew from the national trials at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore for the 1960-61 tour of India, due to severe eczema on left leg. 

His maiden first-class hundred – a gritty unbeaten 107 – came whilst appearing for Multan against a strong Lahore’s attack, featuring Farooq Hameed, Saleem Altaf,  Majid Khan, Khalid Qureshi and Pervez Sajjad at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore in 1963-64. The 1969-70 Lahore A squad, led by Humayun, included none other than, his 18-year old nephew Imran Khan, making first-class debut, in a surprise defeat against Sargodha in Sargodha. Few weeks later, Humayun hit a career-best 151 (360 minutes, 21 fours and a six) against Punjab University at Punjab University Ground, Lahore.

Majid Khan, is no doubt of his uncle Humayun’s pedigree, ‘ I believe he could have played for Pakistan. Although invited to 2-3 National Camps, the selectors could not make up their minds despite his all-round presence. Had he played in the county cricket in England, he was the type of player who would end up with 1000 runs, 100 wickets and 50 catches, year in year out, without a problem.’

Younger brother Javed Zaman, better known as JZ, filled us in, ‘Humayun was two years senior to me at Government College, Lahore when we toured Karachi with Khalid Aziz and Zafar Altaf in our squad. I too was playing in that game with Humayun as captain in Sargodha, when Imran was run out without scoring in the second innings. He had a slinging bowling action in those days and later through sheer hard work developed into one of the finest fast bowlers of his generation.’

Jamil Rana, a colleague of Humayun, both at Government College and Lahore Gymkhana, recalled, ‘He was a year senior to me at Government College. Although at Gymkhana, Humayun was overshadowed by the likes of Mian Mohammed Saeed, Shakoor Ahmed, Fazal Mahmood, Khalid Qureshi, etc. and perhaps did not get as much chance with the bat as he would have liked, he was a quality all-rounder, who in my view deserved to have played for Pakistan. Surprisingly with the national selection panel consisting of Dr. Jehangir Khan, Dr. Dilawar Hussain, Agha Ahmed Raza Khan and Justice A.R.Cornelius – all Gymkhana members, Humayun still could not make it.’

 At the time I became a member of Gymkhana in the late 1960s, Shakoor Ahmed was the captain with Humayun, serving as the club secretary.  In contrast to some of his team members, he was very focused and enjoyed being competitive.  We shared the new ball at Gymkhana, and on one occasion bowled throughout the innings. He had a short run-up and bowled within stumps and picked up wickets by slight movement both ways. A pin-point accuracy often fooled one of a bowling machine.  He was a solid batsman and played each ball on its merit and built his game on orthodox strokes. He was also a pretty reliable slip fieldsman.’

He further added, ‘ I also recall the days he was working for Batala Engineering and I was employed by an insurance company. With both the offices on The Mall, Lahore, we often met during the day. I was always impressed with his character for he was sincere, honest and took pride in his principles. A gem of a person, whom I never heard swearing.’

Duncan Sharpe, who played three Tests for Pakistan before leaving for Australia in 1961, recalled that period from suburbs of Melbourne, ‘ I recall the late 1950s cricket in Pakistan as if it were yesterday. Humayun, a batting all-rounder was just the sort of player needed to add a balance to a side. Batting at number five or six and then coming on first change and cut the ball both ways on a matting. Broad shouldered and on the stocky side, he was a great fellow. A gentleman who played cricket with a smile. I must add Humayun, along with Ghafoor Butt and S.D. Butt, were among the three players, unlucky not to have played for Pakistan.’

All told, in 23 first-class matches (1955-56 to 1970-71) for Punjab, Lahore and Multan, in the domestic cricket, with the bat Humayun scored 824 runs @ 32.96 with 2 hundreds and 4 fifties besides picking up 10 catches. As a medium-fast bowler he picked up 49 wickets @ 21.16 with 5-32 his only five-wicket haul, at this level of the game. His two younger brothers Javed Zaman and Fawad Zaman also played first-class cricket and all three represented Lahore Gymkhana with distinction.

Humayun was also a talented hockey player, who always arrived well prepared for important matches and did three rounds before the bully. At Government College, he was asked to choose between cricket and hockey. It was a shame he could not play both for as a right full back he was good enough to have challenged Munir Dar, who was gold medal winner for Pakistan in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

He was stationed in Karachi by his employers for almost 10 years and would return to Lahore following his father’s death in 1966. In retirement, he kept himself occupied with farming and was also fond of shooting, which he undertook with a dog as his companion. A keen traveller within Pakistan, with special preference for northern half of the country.

Having undergone a heart-by-pass at 60, now diabetic and also struggling with his weight in the last few years due to bad knees and complication in spine and frustratingly less mobile, Humayun breathed his last on 17th June, aged 83. He is survived by wife Farzana (Basti Shah Quli), three sons and a daughter. One of his sons, Nasir Zaman Khan, a keen cricketer pursued civil engineering and is married to Jamshed Burki’s daughter.

Ijaz Khan

Described as, ‘the finest off-break bowler, he faced in his entire career’ by Majid Khan, his cousin and leading Pakistan batsman of his era, Ijaz Khan, could not convince the selectors in the 1960s, for national recognition. Instead it was his rivals, Haseeb Ahsan, Afaq Hussain, Salah-ud-din and his Railways colleague, Mohammad Nazir Jr., who got the nod. This was also the period when Pakistan played very few Test series and at the peak of his powers, Ijaz also had a gap of 4 ½ years of no first-class cricket.

One of four sons of Fazal Hussain Khan, Ijaz Hussain Khan, was born in Basti Guzan, Jullundur (Punjab), British India, on November 9, 1938, in a family that first tied its knot with cricket with appearance of Mahmood Khan, the brother of his maternal grandmother, for Forman Christian (F.C) College, Lahore in the 1897-98 period. Ijaz’s maternal uncle Jahangir Khan had represented All India in Test matches on two tours of England, in 1932 and 1936.

Ijaz was a Year 5 student of Islamia High School,Jullundur city in the period of turmoil leading to the partition of the sub-continent.  After the creation of Pakistan in August 1947, the family settled in Zaman Park, Lahore and Ijaz attended Iqbal High School, Gari Shahoo for two years before enrolling at Muslim High School, Lahore Cantt, whom he would captain in cricket and also pass his matriculation in 1953.

In his own words, ‘I was an average student who got admission in Government College on sports basis. The experience of Government College vs. Islamia College cricket contest came as early as in my first year in 1953-54. It was like a ‘Test’ match for its intensity. Six of the 11 players were Jullundury Pathans, including Javed Burki and Humayun Zaman, but I still never got a proper chance to show my worth. Despite struggling with my studies, I still managed to finish my intermediate studies (F.A) in 1956.’

‘At school I used to bowl medium-pace and in my initial phase at Lahore Gymkhana nets was asked by my maternal uncle (mamoon) Jahangir Khan to do something ‘different’ for I did not have great pace and there were plenty of medium-pace bowlers on the scene. As a captain he took the new ball himself and with his encouragement, I quickly settled in my role as an off-spinner with immediate success.’

‘At the time of switch over I was only 17 and once baffled Fazal Mahmood by bowling him between his legs in a match between Government College and Universal CC on the Punjab University Ground. My return of 6-17 against a Karachi college, reported in Pakistan Times, pleased me no end. Then there were seven wickets in the final of Connolly Cup in Sialkot. In the 1954-55 winter, I again picked up 7-37 for Punjab against Karachi in the inter-varsity clash at Agha Khan Gymkhana, when the opposition collapsed from 80-1 to 137 all out.’

At the first-class level, Ijaz would represent both Lahore and Railways but for a front-line spinner, barring two seasons, i.e. 1962-63 and a decade later in 1972-73, bowler, Ijaz bowled very little. Ijaz explains, ‘I was taken to Railways’nets by my friends in the days it was captained by Aslam Khokhar. In my career, I always challenged Test cricketers – A.H.Kardar, Hanif Mohammad, Imtiaz Ahmed, Saeed Ahmed, Javed Burki, Wallis Mathias, Shafqat Rana, Wasim Raja etc. – and managed to dismiss all of the above. This could not be achieved without having the confidence in one’s abilities.’

Standing at 6ft.3 inches with 13 shoe size (provided after a special request to show-makers Bata), Ijaz was a giant of a man, with massive hands, that amazed young Hanif Mohammed, visiting Dr. Jehangir Khan’s home in Lahore, prior to the 1954 tour of England. A cricket ball was almost ‘lost’ in his hands and he spun it viciously and deceived batsmen with flight. He was also noted for his catching, particularly in slips. His long reach and size of his hands enabled him to stand at second slip and cover first. second and third slip and to be labelled as Jahaz Khan, meaning his long arms acted as an aeroplane and missed very little.

Despite better returns in the inter-varsity cricket, fellow off-spinner Abdul Aziz was preferred to Ijaz, for the selection of Pakistan Universities against the 1955-56 MCC ‘A’ at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore. Seven years later, he announced himself on the first-class scene with a notable all-round performance -  a  score of 46, coming at No.9 and 5-53 with the ball - for Railways against Lahore A at Railways Stadium, Lahore in the 1962-63 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. Both would remain his best with bat and ball respectively.  At the same venue, he would score 45 in a stand of 93 for the 8th wicket with Mohammad Nazir (63) for Railways against Karachi Greens, in the 1972-73 BCCP Patrons Trophy.

The four-pronged spin attack – Mohammad Nazir, Nazir Khan, Ahad Khan and Ijaz Khan – at the command of skipper Arif Butt, was the key to Railways’ first ever winning of Quaid-i-Azam Trophy which year. In the semi-final win (on first innings lead) against Punjab, Ijaz had played his part with figures of 4-45 in the second innings, again at Railways Stadium, Lahore.

In 22 first-class career (1961-62 to 1973-74), as a capable lower order right-hand batsman, Ijaz scored 356 runs @ 16.95 with46 as his highest innings. With his off-breaks, he captured 37 wickets @ 28.59 with one five-wicket haul.

Ijaz had a 22-year (1958-80) employment with Railways and enjoyed great success in first-class, inter-departmental and at the club level. He had three seasons at Lahore Gymkhana, the last being in 1957. He is first cousin of Javed Burki, Majid Khan and Imran Khan – three Pakistan captains and his brother Sajjad Khan, too played first-class cricket. Ijaz was a man of gentle nature and good humour and has left a huge void in the social circles of Zaman Park. Fairly active for his age, he breathed his last on 27th June, 2019, leaving behind four sons.

The writer had the good fortune of interviewing both Humayun Zaman and Ijaz Khan and would also like to thank a number of other family members in the compilation of the two obituaries.