Javaid Iqbal - Service with a Smile
Whilst running a successful sports retail outlet in Slough, Berkshire, Javaid Iqbal has played a crucial hand in the promotion and development of league cricket, in the south east of England.
One of delightfully easy going nature, his passion for sports, particularly cricket, shows no signs of diminishing as he continues to focus on recreational needs of the local community. It is high time for his immense contribution to be both acknowledged and documented for posterity.
Javaid’s ancestry can be traced to Pasrur city and village Kalaswala, both in Sialkot district in Punjab, Pakistan. Son of a non-commissioned officer in the Pakistan Army, he was a student of PAF (Pakistan Air Force) Primary School in Lahore of excellent discipline with its headmistress, wife of the famous Urdu poet Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, setting a great example. Moving on, enrolling at Public High School, Pasrur, he had his first experience of organized game of cricket. The lush green fields of the school, built in the pre-partition days of the British Raj, in the 1960s, accommodated for all three major sports – cricket, hockey and football.
Javaid took me back to his school days in Pasrur, ‘I have a vivid recollection of myself and two friends running towards an old runaway and were really excited, to be among the first to arrive and witness the Indian Air Force Folland Knat that was forced down by the Pakistan Air Force in a dogfight, we had followed with great interest. It was a thrilling spectacle for us schoolboys and the event created considerable interest amongst the people of Pakistan. There was a great spirit in the nation and it spared nothing in looking after the people affected in the 17-day Indo-Pak war in September 1965. The plane I believe remains on display at the PAF Museum, to this day.’
Javaid would spend two years at Central Government Boys High School, Rawalpindi, located on a road adjoining Mall Road and Peshawar Road, in Saddar-the commercial hub of the Cantonment. He did represent the school in cricket but soon would have his studies interrupted and he saying goodbye to his motherland.
On Christmas Eve 1967, he arrived in Slough, and after a brief period of uncertainty, found a career path that would enable him to enjoy his love for sports. Whilst working for Coopers Mechanical Joints, he took full advantage of a ‘day release’ to finish his City &Guilds in computing. He did well in both computer science and computer programming and by 1973 was one of the first of Pakistan decent to breakthrough in IT.
His surprising selection as a non-graduate in International Computers Ltd (ICL) was testament to his determination. Better career prospects lured him into joining Electronic Data Systems (EDS) – American multi-national information technology equipment and services company, with whom he was employed initially in their Luton premises and would serve for close to 25 years, before calling it a day.
In Pakistan he had played inter-school cricket in Rawalpindi but in the UK, it was not until 1970 that he picked up the bat again. Javaid recalls his early encounters with the game in UK, ‘I believe we were the first group of Asian boys, aged 15-16 years old, who started playing cricket in Salt Hill Park, Slough. Looking back, I reckon Zaheer Abbas’ magnificent 274 in the Test against England at Edgbaston, Birmingham, was the turning point. It inspired hundreds of Asian kids to take up the game and express themselves. It was a very proud moment for all young Pakistanis living in the UK and I can never forget that summer of 1971.’
By 1974 Pakistan team, with most of its leading players now signed up by English counties, had become a world-class team. It was challenging the top teams of world cricket and enjoying great support of expatriate at all the international venues, including the two in London – Lord’s and The Oval. Javaid, as expected, now in his twenties, attended these matches as his ‘national duty’ and be part of the great atmosphere created by the Asian contingent from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the 1970s, that was equally vibrant as created by the Caribbean supporters of the West Indies teams to these shores. The individual batting and bowling landmarks, invariably were greeted by exuberance of the crowd running on to the field to either shake hand or to hoist their countrymen.
Javaid further added, ‘A few years down the line, we formed Slough Asians and played regular cricket on Sundays, against opposition made up of teams from the towns with strong Asian presence. It was actually in Slough when we met Sarfraz Nawaz, who was a star Pakistan bowler, who we all know enjoyed the social life of England. There are great memories from that period and his brother, Shahid, I am pretty certain played for Slough Asians. He too was tall and an aggressive new-ball bowler,’
By 1982 South East Sunday Cricket League (SESCL) was launched and in no time there was a structured body that catered for 40-overs matches on Sundays, by hiring park pitches from the local councils. In few years the teams from Chesham, Heston, High Wycombe, Luton, Reading, Slough, Woking etc. participating in exclusively Asian-brand of fun-filled but highly competitive ‘park’ cricket.
By the early 1990s the tense rivalry between the three Slough clubs – Slough Stars, Slough Asians and Slough Majestic – took the game to the next level and attracted sizeable crowds for the knockout tournaments, often held on Bank Holiday weekends. The growth of the league can be measured by the fact that in 2020, SESCL consists of Premier and additional five divisions and players representing no less than seven counties - Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Oxfordshire and Surrey.
It was in the mid-1980s when on the request of his family, Zulfiqar Malik, who ran sports goods business in Sialkot, Javaid agreed to brand image their MB Malik cricket bats and continues to do so to this date in both England and Europe.
In 1990, the time of my first meeting with Javaid, he was still working from home in Chalvey Grove with Moin Mumtaz, who once shared the new ball with Wasim Akram and also led Pakistan Automobile Corporation (PACO), present too. By now, Javaid was providing cricket equipment to the players of the Asian teams besides also introducing himself to Slough Cricket Club, a few minutes’ walk from his home. The Chalvey Road East venue was in use for both cricket and hockey till 1999, before in the following season, it moved to Upton Court Road.
After the initial contact-building phase and promotion of the MB Malik brand, Javaid was ready for a retail outlet. The opportunity was taken up on Chalvey Road East. From the outset of his association with sports goods business, Javaid also developed a co-ordial relationship with Indian and the West Indian cricketers from club level upwards.
In his own words, ‘In 1992 me and my friend went into a partnership and we were over the moon when the great West Indies bowler Joel Garner, accepted our invitation to be the guest of honour at our shop opening. A gem of a person and a good friend, ‘Big Bird’ was one of the most lethal strike bowlers of his time. A true legend of the game. The West Indies players from that era were humble, honoured their word and did great charitable work for the uplifting of their Caribbean islands. Apart from Garner, I have had good working relations with Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Richie Richardson.’
Javaid nostalgically looks back to the good old days, in his spacious new premises on Farnham Road, Slough, he moved in the 2002-03 period and continues to have an outstanding range of sports goods and sportswear. ‘In 2020, things have changed a great deal, not helped of course with the worldwide covid-19 pandemic. At the time we started the business in Chalvey Road East in 1992, I had far more direct face-to-face interaction with the community and it was great fun to be involved in the local cricket, whether it be the Saturday league matches played by the established clubs or the Sunday league played by the Asian kids. Nowadays with on-line shopping, you don’t have the same footfall as in the past.’
Javaid has had mixed experience with international Pakistan players. ‘I often hear Pakistan cricketers organising matches and tournaments in UK to give back to the Asian communities in England, which has provided them with great support in international matches for almost four decades now. The patriotic theme has always dominated amongst the Pakistanis, ever since it won the 1992 World Cup in Australia. All the ventures that I have seen for many a years, I am sorry to say, are nothing but money-making ideas prompting me to pull out of such events. Even after living permanently in UK for so many years, they are quite selfish in their attitude towards the game. If the star players behave in that manner, what hope can we have with the rest.’
Although disappointed at the attitude of fellow-Pakistanis, there has been one exception, ‘I twice met Imran Khan and found him to be a very special personality. He has got some class and is peerless amongst his countryman and no one comes close to him, in my view. The first meeting was at National Stadium, Karachi, on the morning of an ODI between Pakistan and West Indies. I was invited to the match as a guest of Desmond Haynes, the West Indies captain. Imran’s conduct was one of a gentleman and of a professional with a sharp focus on the challenge ahead. Even a considerable amount of cash purse to use the MB bat in the net practice or the match, could not distract him and that was a proof of how he managed himself as one of the greatest cricketers of all-time.’
Continuing on Imran Khan, Javaid further added, ‘About ten years ago, I attended a gathering of 50 selected guests in Stoke Poges. Within half an hour after his brief speech, he was able to raise £300,000 for Namal College. He is an icon of Pakistan and I hope all his dreams and ambitions are fulfilled.’
‘We are also very pleased that he has become PM of Pakistan and I hope and pray that he is able to lift the country from poverty. Not an easy task by any means for the country was on the verge of bankruptcy. He is up against some of the most corrupt politicians in the world, protected by the mafias. Sadly Imran remains Pakistan’s only hope and as an honest and genuine person, his achievements have made us very proud. He is a role model for the youth of Pakistan and he is known for his straight talking without worrying about the consequences and that sets him apart from the rest of the politicians.’
Minor County Player for Buckinghamshire, who also represented MCC, Club Cricket Conference, Ealing and captained Heston in the South East Sunday Cricket League (SESCL).
‘Ever since I have known Javaid Sahib, which is over 40 years now, he has been a very helpful and accommodating friend. Malik Sports have sponsored?a number of individuals, teams and?clubs, who have?benefited from his generosity. He is one induvial who does not know the meaning of?the word NO. Whenever Javaid, was requested for any type of sponsorship, he was always forthcoming, with a smile on his face. He also had a huge input for the Asian players in the minor county cricket circuit especially, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, plus in all the Asian leagues in the south east of England.’
‘In the 1997-98 winter London Cricketers had planned a tour of India and Pakistan to celebrate 50 years of Independence of both countries.
The main concept of the tour was to take a multi-faith and multi-ethnic team from U.K. Our group consisted of Muslims, Hindu, Guajarati , East African, English etc. With a great variety of backgrounds, we united to play matches against the top clubs of India and Pakistan.?The party consisted of 35 gentlemen?and two guest ladies.’
‘We were welcomed and the hospitality was of the highest standard in the various cities which we toured, including Mumbai, Delhi and Lahore. The Parton of the tour was the late Lord Noon, who was also one of the sponsors of the tour, along with MB Malik, a brand promoted by Javaid in the UK and Europe. The one-month long itinerary turned into a ONCE IN A LIFETIME TOUR.’
MBE, ex-Honorary Secretary of SESCL
While Javaid Malik of MB Malik Sports has always been an integral part of the history of the South East Sunday Cricket League (SESCL), it wasn’t until 1989 that MB Malik Sports fully sponsored it. In that same year, at the annual presentation evening, the league was honoured by the presence of Waqar Younis, accompanied by Javaid.
Since then and up until now, I know that has been fully committed in supporting young clubs of the SESCL, local clubs and up-coming stars in and around Berkshire and internationally. He was part of the SESCL team on the tour of Pakistan in 1992-93 winter and later also served the league as Honorary Vice Chairman.
It is suffice to say that Javed Malik has dedicated his life to supporting and developing youngsters and clubs in an around the country including; charity events and causes of great significance such as Imran Khan Cancer Appeal, Disaster funds and of recent, Shahid Afrid’s indoor tournament raising funds for the ‘Dam Appeal’ in Pakistan.
As an individual and a friend, you could not ask for a better man for advice, care, honesty and integrity. There has never been a time when I have called him, or asked him for advice, or to support an individual up-coming youngster, no matter what age, colour or ethnicity and he has not provided that support, be it financially or otherwise.
All-rounder for Slough CC and Slough Majestic
From the mid1980’s to the early 1990’s, I represented Slough Majestic CC in the South East Sunday Cricket League. The league was very competitive and of high standard, mainly due to the quality cricket balls supplied for our matches by Javaid Iqbal, who was popularly known as Malik Sahib, due to his well-stocked Malik Sports shop, few minutes away from Slough Cricket Club, whom I first played for back in 1984.
For me and lots of players in the league, the highlight of the season used to be the Bank Holiday Knockout tournaments organised and sponsored by Javaid and the winners awarded the MB Malik Trophy. He was a pleasant and cheerful presence at these events. For the last three decades, no other sports goods outlet has engaged itself in the manner Javaid has done. Hats off, to his great service to the game of cricket.
Saeed Anwar- Allrounder Slough Asians & Slough Majestic
Javed Bhai, in addition to all these things that are written in the article, I want to add something personally. You have always given me good advice and have always been very supportive first as a student and then as a young executive and finally as a family man. I always had the utmost trust and respect your incredibly positive role in our Asian community in Slough and I have always found you to be a man of honesty and integrity. Many thanks for everything Javed Bhai.
Khurshid Khan – Slough Majestic Captain
My first recollection of an organised Asian cricket team in Slough, where I arrived in the early 70’s, was the Slough Asians. Javed Bhai was amongst the playing members. However my first regular interaction with him was when he started selling cricket equipment in Slough. Up till this point we only had two sports shops in in the town where only western brands, i.e. Gunn and Moore, Slazenger, Gray Nicholls etc., were sold. Javed Bhai along with the more established brands started selling Indian and Pakistani brands and creating more options for Asian cricketer to use cricket equipment of Asian brands and thus giving them an identity of their preference.
He eventually set up a shop in Chalvey, Slough and extended his hand of help for the South East Asian cricket league, in providing it with a one brand approved cricket balls to be used in all league matches and the popular knock-out tournaments. For the cricket teams and individual cricket players both Javed Bhai and Azam Bhai used to provide cricket equipment too. Javed Bhai has been involved in Slough and South East including London cricket for probably 50 plus years in playing, administration, office bearer and cricket related business. I would say M.B.Malik and other Pakistani brands became more synonymous in our area because his forward thinking business acumen.