Jinnah’s Pakistan Stands Firm Against West Indies

1948-49 Pakistan team in front of Bagh-i-Jinnah pavilion

26th November, 2018 – marks 70 years of Pakistan’s first international cricket engagement - against West Indies at the picturesque Bagh-i-Jinnah (previously Lawrence Gardens), located off The Mall, Lahore. One would not be surprised if the historic moment went unnoticed, amidst the carnage created by Yasir Shah’s bewildering 8 for 41 in Dubai.

It was a great shame indeed that Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Quaid-i-Azam) founder of Pakistan and a cricket enthusiast, did not live to witness the unofficial ‘Test’, for he passed away on 11th September, 1948.

The West Indies team, led by John Goddard, broke away briefly from its 5-Test tour of India to arrive in Pakistan. The tourists after their matches in Karachi and Rawalpindi, arrived in Lahore to play a four-day fixture against Pakistan that would be recognized as the first unofficial ‘Test’ for a country that appeared on the world map, only fifteen months ago, in August 1947.

Justice A.R. Cornelius

The event was only possible through the vision and confidence of Justice A.R.Cornelius and his associates - three former All India Test cricketers – Dr. Jahangir Khan, Dr. Dilawar Hussain and Syed Nazir Ali – to name a few. Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) was proposed in a meeting in Lahore in May 1948, kicking off the organizational plan of the West Indies tour. The appointment of K.R. Collector, as the first secretary and the name of Professor Mohammad Aslam Sheikh as Treasurer, as two key appointments. The patronage extended by the likes of Khan Iftikhar Hussain Khan of Mamdot, Chief Minister of Punjab and the first President of BCCP, shaped the seeding ground of international cricket in Pakistan.

K.R.Collector

Pakistan captain, Mian Mohammad Saeed, opted to bat first on a wicket he had quite solid knowledge of. Two of Lahore’s own – Nazar Mohammad and Imtiaz Ahmed – walked out on Friday 26th November, 1948, to open the batting for Pakistan. The pair put on 148 runs with Nazar contributing 87 and Imtiaz 76, before the whole team was all out for 241. Munawwar Ali Khan, better known as ‘Manay Khan’, created a sensation by dismissing George Carew and skipper Goddard in two deliveries, in his first over and would finish with 4-103. The last two West Indies wickets added 108 runs as ‘Black Bradman’ George Headley (57 not out) took the total to 308.

Pakistan, 67 runs behind on the first innings, batted resolutely, through fighting hundreds scored by Imtiaz Ahmed (131) and Mohammad Saeed (101). They added 195 for the 2nd wicket stand to help the side earn a respectable draw. Pakistan closed on 285 for 6 declared and West Indies batted for the last 26 overs to reach 98 for 1.

Both captains shook hands at the conclusion of the match, at Bagh-i-Jinnah, to date, the home ground of Lahore Gymkhana.

Fasih Khan,  cousin of Majid Khan and Imran Khan, who himself represented Punjab CC till 1962, witnessed the first unofficial ‘Test’ as a 14-year old,

‘My memories are of the match being played in beautiful sunny winter of 1948 in Lahore. I was accompanied by my uncle Naseer-ud-din Khan, a zoology professor at Government College, Lahore. Rs.5 ticket purchased was to cover the entire 4 days of cricket. There were no stands and the crowd sat on the ground. Pakistan nation was still engulfed with refugee crisis and the death of Quaid-i-Azam had further deflated its spirit. I would say the crowd was in the region of 3-4 thousand, which was a norm for club cricket in Minto Park, located on the outskirts of the old walled city of Lahore.’

‘Our cricketers did a great job in earning a draw against the visitors with the likes of George Headley, Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott, in its line-up. There were delighted to see a beautiful venue in Lahore as few months prior to the match, Justice A.R. Cornelius received a letter from the West Indies cricket Board, with a question of ‘Do you have a ground fit for a ‘Test?’.

After such an auspicious start against West Indies and impressive showing against the 1951-52 touring MCC, Pakistan strengthened its case to be granted the Test status in the 1952 ICC meeting Lord’s.

Brief bio-data of the ‘Test’ XI

1. Anwar Hussain Khokhar (1920-2002)

An all rounder, who batted in the middle order and took the new ball as a medium-pace bowler. Had already appeared for Muslims, Northern India and Bombay, before the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Appointed vice captain for 1952-53 tour of India where he appeared in four Tests. First cousin of Mohammad Aslam.

2. Fazal Mahmood (1927-2005)

 The first great bowler from Pakistan for he admirably shouldered the burden, both on matting and turf wickets, all around the world. Forming a pace-partnership with Khan Mohammad, he dominated the sports pages, more so against the 1951-52 MCC side. First bowler in history to claim 12 or more wickets against four different countries: India (1952-53), England (1954), Australia (1956-57) and West Indies (1958-59) to finish with 139 victims in 34 Tests – a national record that stood till 1981.

3. M.E.Z. Ghazali (1924-2003)

 The only player in the team, born outside Punjab. An all-rounder -right-hand batsman and off-break bowler - having won selection for Maharashtra and Muslims in the pre-partition days of British India. Hit 86 – his best for Pakistan - against 1951-52 MCC in an unofficial ‘Test’ at Bagh-i-Jinnah. Made one Test appearance in England in 1954. Later managed Pakistan team on two tours: Sri Lanka, Australia, & New Zealand 1972-73 and New Zealand & Australia 1978-79.

4. Imtiaz Ahmed (1928-2016) 

A star batsman, already having represented Northern India and Punjab University with distinction and also shone brightly against Lindsay Hassett’s Australian Services team. No wonder, as a wicket-keeper batsman he proved his worth both in front and behind the stumps by missing just one of the first 42 Tests played by Pakistan till 1962. Scored a memorable Test-best 209 against New Zealand at Bagh-i-Jinnah in 1955-56. Did captain Pakistan briefly and later also managed 1974 Pakistan u-19 and 1978 Pakistan team, both to England.

5. Maqsood Ahmed (1925-99) 

An attractive middle order batsman with a thrilling 144 on his first-class debut for Southern Punjab against Northern India at this very ground, in the 1944-45 Ranji Trophy, he appeared in first 16 Test matches played by Pakistan till 1955-56. Was out, stumped for 99, in a Test against India at Bagh-i-Jinnah in 1954-55. Undertook a number of assignments as one of national coaches. Part of the selection panel that appointed Imran Khan, as captain in 1982. Also worked in broadcasting and print media.

6. Mohammad Amin (1920 - ) 

Leg-break googly bowler of merit, Amin ‘Billy’ won selection for Northern India in the Ranji Trophy in the pre-partition days but unlucky not to appear in Test matches for Pakistan. Though he attended trials for tours of both India (1952-53) and England (1954), he could not quite convince the selectors. A Railway employee, whom he represented in the domestic cricket. Although no details are available, Amin is believed to have passed away. His son Shahid Amin is sought for confirmation.

7. Mohammad Aslam Khokhar (1920-2011) 

Right-hand batsman, also referred as Aslam Khokhar, had played for Muslims, Northern India in British India and later captained both Universal CC and Railways. Had the distinction of scoring the maiden first-class hundred on Pakistan soil – 117 for West Punjab against Sind at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore in December 1947. Appeared in one Test match in England in 1954. He stood as an umpire in three Test matches. First cousin of Anwar Hussain. Lived to the age of 91.

8. Mian Mohammad Saeed: (1910-79) 

A highly experienced right-hand batsman, having represented Muslims, Patiala, Northern India and Southern India in British India. His first prominent match at Lawrence Gardens was way back in 1929-30 for Punjab University against Punjab Governor’s XI. Although a popular choice as a captain, he was replaced in 1951 by A.H. Kardar, thus did not feature in Test cricket for Pakistan. Did manage 1963 Pakistan Eaglets to England and 1964-65 Pakistan to Australia and New Zealand. Father-in-law of Fazal Mahmood.

9. Munawwar Ali Khan (1924-2013) 

A pace bowler with a beautiful run-up who was picked for Northern India in the 1944-45 Ranji Trophy. Could have enjoyed a lengthy career with Pakistan but for the restrictions imposed by his employers, a shipping company in Karachi. Sadly did not appear in a Test match and faded out of the game in his prime.

Nazar Mohammad

10. Nazar Mohammad (1921-96) 

Right-hand opener, Nazar was acknowledged as one of the finest batting talents in Lahore. He carried the bat with 124 not out in Pakistan’s first Test victory in Lucknow in 1952-53. An arm injury finished his career and later on served as an umpire and member of selection panel. Father of Mudassar Nazar.

11. Shuja-ud-din (1930-2006) 

Short but courageous all-round cricketer who appeared in 19 Test matches, as an any-position batsman and a slow left-arm spinner. A career in the army was followed by employment with PIA. Managed Pakistan team on its 1976-77 tour of Australia, Fiji and West Indies. His media work included as expert summariser for Radio and TV and he also wrote a couple of books on Pakistan cricket.

Sadly all players of the first Pakistan XI have passed away. The author had the great privilege to meet/interview eight of them, the three exceptions being, M.E.Z.Ghazali, Mohammad Amin and Mohammad Saeed.

© Cricket World 2018