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Ramzans - Runs in the Family

The feats of Ramzans are less documented than other renowned Pakistan cricket families. The 18-year old, Amaan Ramzan, represents the third generation of the family, determined to carry the legacy of his grandfather Mohammad Ramzan, middle-order batsman, leg-break googly bowler and one of the finest fieldsman of the 1950s in Pakistan. Amaan, bowls medium pace besides being a useful lower order batsman. Inspired by a good number of family members, he took to the game quite young and is looking forward to the beginning of 2019 cricket season with Farnham Common, in Buckinghamshire. 

Chaudhry Mohammad Ramzan, the only son of Chaudhry Mohammad Deen (d 1978) and Hussain Bibi, was born on February 17, 1925 in Saloo Gujar, Mohallah Upar Wala, a village in district Sialkot. He married quite young in 1940 to Khursheed Begum (d 2018) and owed it to the street lamps for his post sunset studies in order to pass the high school matriculation exams. 

Such was the promise of young Ramzan, aged just 12 (according to his recorded date of birth), he was included in the Northern India squad for the 1937-38 Ranji Trophy. He shared the new ball with Baqa Jilani, in his side’s 84-run win against United Province at Patiala. His next first-class opportunity would be three years later in the 1940-41 Ranji Trophy and he did make a mark for himself with seven wickets, including 4-43 in the second innings, as Northern India beat North West Frontier Province (NWFP) at Peshawar. The team lost to Maharashtra in the semi-final at Poona. Although Association of Cricket Statisticians and Scorers have credit Ramzan with above matches as a fast-medium bowler, his son Fayaz, who sadly passed away over the weekend in Sialkot, had reservation about it, more so for his father was a wrist spinner. 

Following the partition of the sub-continent and creation of Pakistan in 1947, Ramzan, along with a good number of Muslim cricketers, were asked to start afresh, now with a new identity. The turmoil did cost the entire generation, opportunity of top-class competitive cricket. In some cases 5-10 years of their peak years, domestic first-class cricket in Pakistan, overwhelmed with refugee crisis was a few years away yet. In the case of Ramzan, it was almost a decade before he would appear in a first-class match:  in an annual fixture between Punjab Governor’s XI against Punjab University at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore in March 1951. He showed his batting prowess with 38 & 56 not out for The Rest against the Pakistan team that had returned from the 1952-53 tour of India, at the Karachi Goan Association (KGA) ground.

Mohammad Ramzan - ID Card (Back)

Mohammad Ramzan - ID Card (Back)

Mohammad Ramzan - ID (Front)

Mohammad Ramzan - ID (Front)

Asghar Bukhari, a tourists to England with the 1957 Pakistan Eaglets and now based in Birmingham, recalls,  

‘In Bahawalpur I played for and against Chaudhry Ramzan Sahib, at the club level with Pak Eaglets and Crescent, in the mid 1950s. He was an all-rounder and was referred as ‘CaptaanJee’. He bowled leg-break and googly, batted in the lower middle order and was a tremendous fielder.’

‘He was a decent person and was keen to keep politics out of cricket.  He had a steady temperament and was quite patient for a number of times he was included in the squad but named 12th Man for Pakistan in the Test matches. It disappointed us in Bahawalpur but he would shrug off our questions by saying ‘I shall play, when it is my turn to do so.’ 

‘Youngsters like me sought and valued his advice. He once said however big player one became, one was never perfect and named Vijay Manjrekar, ‘Polly’ Umrigar, Hanif Mohammad and Waqar Hasan to illustrate his point. I had lot of respect for him for he was quite helpful and approachable.’

In the inaugural Quaid-i-Azam Trophy in the 1953-54 winter, the Nawab of Bahawalpur, had the resources and would invite a number of leading players of Pakistan, for participation in the National Cricket Championship. Such was the strength of the squad, it featured the likes of Hanif Mohammad, Wazir Mohammad, Maqsood Ahmed, Israr Ali and skipper Khan Mohammad. 

Ramzan, did not feature much with either bat or ball but as an outstanding all-round fielder with a gazelle-like speed, made an invaluable contribution to Bahawalpur’s success as it beat Punjab in the final at the KGA ground to be crowned as the first winner of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. Delighted with the success, the Nawab of Bahawalpur, awarded the players with plot of lands and other financial benefits. No wonder his name appears alongside the great patrons of the game in Pakistan’s early days.

In December 1954, Ramzan toured India with Pakistan Combined Services & Bahawalpur squad, led by A.H. Kardar and featured in the game against Bombay CA. His performance in the three side matches against the touring teams: India (Lyallpur) 1954-55, New Zealand (Bahawalpur) 1955-56 and MCC ‘A’ (Bahawalpur) 1955-56, did not strengthen his case for inclusion in Pakistan’s Test side. His fielding skills though were acknowledged with his being named as the 12th man in one of the Test matches against the 1954-55 Indian team and in the one-off Test against Australia at Karachi in October 1956. This was the closest he would get to earning, an official ‘Test’ cap.

The Bahawalpur squad for the 1956-57 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, besides Test players Israr Ali and Zulfiqar Ahmed, primarily was made up of local players and Ramzan was asked to lead it. The captain played a gallant knock of 52 at number seven, in his side’s heavy defeat against Punjab attack led by Fazal Mahmood and Khalid Qureshi, at the Aitchison College ground, Lahore. Bahawalpur beat Peshawar by 144 runs at Peshawar Club Ground, inside two days, as its skipper picked up 4-13 in the second innings. 

Ramzan, was retained as captain for the 1957-58 Quaid-i-AzamTrophy and his eldest son, Riaz Mahmood, who too was a wrist spinner, making his debut would justify his inclusion in the Bahawalpur squad with an impressive haul of 19 wickets @ 7.52 in five matches. It was perhaps the first case of father and son playing in the same first-class match in Pakistan? With all leading Pakistan players on national duty, on the tour of West Indies, Bahawalpur’s team emerged as one of the front runners, as it had once again invited two Test men, Zulfiqar Ahmed and Israr Ali, among its ranks.

Riaz’s was few months’ short of his 16th birthday when he made his first-class debut in Bahawalpur’s first-round match against Punjab A at Dring Stadium on 11th October 1957. His side’s first innings total of 271 included  107-run stand worth between Zulfiqar Ahmed (73) and Ramzan (61) and was enough to record an overwhelming victory by an innings and 2 runs. Riaz only bowled five overs whilst Ramzan (6-25) and Israr Ali (9-25) in the first and second innings respectively, were the wrecker-in-chief. 

Ramzan had another outstanding game with both bat and ball against Karachi B. After picking up 7 for 37 and taking guard at 47 for 4, he knocked up 91 adding 135 for the 6th wicket with first-cousin Iqbal Chaudhry (65). Riaz returned for the game against Quetta at the Race Course Ground in Quetta. His analysis of 4-28 on the final day in a drawn game was a timely boost for the youngster. He continued his good form by claiming 4-46 in the second innings against Karachi B, to further enhance his reputation. Ramzan’s top score of 86 in Bahawalpur’s total of 236, was not enough to save the side a defeat by 20 runs. 

With three victories under its belt, Bahawalpur hosted Dhaka University in the first semi-final. It proved to be a one-sided match as the visitors took a hammering at Dring Stadium. The hosts batted first and were all out for 405. The University students of the East Pakistan, did not know what had hit them when they were dismissed for 39 and 111 respectively in its two outings. Riaz had figures of in the first innings and then wrapped up the match with career-best haul of 7-33 in the second, to end with a highly impressive match analysis, of 10-38 off 32.2 overs. Bahawalpur won by an innings and 255 runs to reach the final. 

Further strengthened with the inclusion of Test all-rounder Shuja-ud-din, Bahawalpur, continued its great form in the tournament and defeated Karachi C in the final at Dring Stadium to become the 1957-58 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy winners. Riaz was only asked to bowl five overs in the entire match but had the honour of title winners in his debut season. Karachi C included Mushtaq Mohammad and Intikhab Alam, wrist spinners and promising all-rounders, who would keep their rivals, including both Ramzan and Riaz, out of contention for Pakistan team.

Such was the irony of the fate that at the time of the final between Bahawalpur and Karachi C on 16-20 March, 1958, S.F. Rehman, another leg-break/googly bowler was playing for Pakistan against West Indies in the fourth Test at Georgetown, although skipper A.H. Kardar had shown his preference for Ramzan, as a re-enforcement, through a telegram to the BCCP. The Board with consultation with the national selectors, instead asked Rehman, to join the injury-hit Pakistan team, in Guyana. 

His son Riaz, interviewed in 1995, gave his input, 

‘In my view, AbbaJee suffered due to cricket politics and thus failed to represent Pakistan. He along with Agha Saadat Ali, was among the best fieldsmen. It was sheer bad luck for him to twist his ankle in the National Camp in Bahawalpur and could not be considered for the 1957-58 Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies. He was assured of being called once he had recovered from the injury. A telegram from A.H. Kardar read send Mohammad Ramzan or S.F. Rehman, both wrist spinners. BCCP opted for S.F.Rehman and AabaJee missed out.’

Ramzan’s first cousin, Mohammad Iqbal Chaudhry, also known as ‘Bala’ was Bahawalpur’s most consistent batsman in the 1957-58 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy

He had the highest aggregate in the tournament - 392 runs @ 56.00, including fifties in the semi-final and final. He was seen as a promising batsman from Bahawalpur, ever since top-scoring with 55, on his debut, in his side’s total of 173 against Karachi at Bahawalpur in the semi-final of the 1954-55 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. He won selection for side matches against MCC ‘A’ 1955-56, West Indies 1958-59 and Commonwealth 1963-64. ‘Bala’ was recognized as a very good fielder. His highest score of 72 was scored for Sargodha against Multan at Sahiwal in the 1969-70 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, ironically his last first-class match.

Ramzan was chosen to captain the 1958 Pakistan Eaglets on its tour to England. The team consisted of a number of promising young players, including Mushtaq Mohammad, Shahid Mahmood, Salim-ud-din and Anis-ul-Ghani. The skipper gave a glimpse of his all-round prowess by scoring 85 and then claiming 6 for 26 in a one-day game against Knighton in Wales leg of the tour. During the tour, Ramzan also had the honour of leading the side which included Garry Sobers and Hanif Mohammad, on separate occasions. 

Ramzan topped the tourists’ batting and bowling averages with 982 runs in 28 innings and 86 wickets for 962 runs @ 11.18. Had he not broken his collar bone in the match against Northamptonshire, he was on course to achieve a double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets. Pakistan Eaglets recorded 13 wins in the 34matches on the tour. 

M.H.Maqsood Manager of the 1958 Pakistan Eaglets team

‘As a captain, Ramzan did all that he could and as a player he was the best allrounder in the team. He did well in bowling, batting and fielding. The team for each game used to be selected by Ramzan and myself and fair chance was given to each boy on the tour. It was unfortunate that on the last leg of the tour against Northampton County Second Eleven, Ramzan while fielding fell down and badly injured his collar bone. As a result of this injury he remained out of the game for the rest of the tour. His absence from the important match was a great handicap to the team.’

Bahawalpur’s defence of its title of the previous year kicked off with a drawn game against Multan at Dring (now Bahawal) Stadium, in the 1958-59 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. Skipper Ramzan, arriving with his side reeling at 21 for 4, top scored with 85 against an attack led by Israr Ali, to steer his side to a more respectable total of 266. Against Quetta at home, skipper Ramzan displayed good form with the bat with scores of 54 and 75. A 123-run stand for the 6th wicket with Farrukh Saleem (85 not out), in the second innings, could not have arrived at a better time, for five wickets had gone down with just 40 runs on the board. Bahawalpur hosted a weak opposition in Khairpur and recorded an easy 274-run victory by bowling them out for 103 and 95 with Ramzan hitting a career-best 139 in the second innings, besides picking up six wickets in the match. 

Bahawalpur travelled to Karachi to play in the semi-final of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. It was bundled out for 185 and 108, on a matting, at Karachi Parsi Institute (KPI) ground. Batting first, Karachi piled up a mammoth 772 for 7 declared that featured Hanif Mohammad’s 499. The Little Master was run out by Iqbal Chaudhry when going for the magical figure. Skipper Ramzan decided to protect his son and only brought him on for 9 overs. Bahawalpur, were knocked out in the most commanding fashion by a very strong Karachi eleven comprising of Hanif, Alim-ud-din, Waqar Hasan, Wazir Mohammad (captain), Wallis Mathias, Mushtaq Mohammad, Mohammad Munaf, Abdul Aziz, Ikram Elahi, Mahmood Hussain and Antao D’Souza – a virtual Test side of the team. Bahawalpur, were the defending champions of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy but on this occasion were simply outclassed by Karachi, who were merciless, in recording a victory by an innings and 479 runs.

Riaz Mahmood, recalled the match in 1995,

‘Karachi players, including Hanif Mohammad, came to greet us at the city’s Railways station. It was a tradition for home team to greet the visitors on its arrival. I would like to think that it was my leg-breaks and googly that played a hand in Karachi Cricket Association’s shifting the match from National Stadium. Our match with Karachi was played at KPI matting and with an atrocious outfield that was uneven and littered with stones. Aabajee only gave me 9 overs for he did not want my confidence to be shattered against a strong side. Hanif Mohammad was a master batsman, and had a sound judgement, outside the off stump.’ 

‘I was very confident to have trapped him on the back foot, in front of stumps when in the 90s, but was told ‘Zara Aur Koshish Karo’ (Try bit more). I got a chance to watch him closely during this innings. His patience, tight defence and choice of strokes were all worthy of attention. He never looked like getting out and it was whilst attempting 500th run that he was run out by ‘Bala’ with an accurate throw from point. He was a couple of yards short of crease when the bails came off.’

Ramzan captained Central Zone against the 1958-59 West Indies touring team at Bahawalpur. He did not have an outstanding match in a drawn game and thus was unable to nudge the national selectors. Although he was retained as captain of Bahawalpur in the 1959-60 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy  from that that point onwards, Ramzan focused more on his job in the police and the family. 

The 1961-62 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy was an eagerly awaited tournament for all the matches were to be played on turf, with a view to bring, Pakistan domestic cricket, at par with the rest of the world. Both Ramzan (captain) and Riaz, were to represent Sargodha in the 1961-62 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, along with Raja Saleem Akhtar, father of Wasim and Ramiz Raja, too was to play alongside them.

In its opening encounter, Sargodha beat Peshawar by an innings and 112 runs, within two days, at Gymkhana Ground Lyallpur (now Bohranwala Ground Faisalabad). Peshawar was skittled out for 60 and 83 respectively, in its two innings. When Sargodha played against Rawalpindi at Pindi Club Ground, the tables were turned around full circle for they lost to their host by 9 wickets, inside two days. The presence of Test players, Ijaz Butt (captain) and Munir Malik and off-spinner Javed Akhtar, were the core of Rawalpindi’s superiority. 

Within a week, Sargodha, again were defeated inside two days, when they faced Combined Services at Gymkhana Ground, Lyallpur. Off-spinner Dildar Awan and slow-left-arm spin of Shuja-ud-din, picked up 17 of Sargodha’s 20 wickets as Combined Services, led by Pakistan wicket-keeper, Imtiaz Ahmed, confirmed their ascendency. Two heavy losses eliminated Sargodha out of the competition. 

In the following winter, Riaz now 20, was invited by Rawalpindi Cricket Association (RCA) for the 1962-63 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. Rawalpindi’s captain was former Test all-rounder, Maqsood Ahmed. Leg-break and googly bowler, Mohammad Sabir by claiming 28 wickets in 4 matches, in his first season in first-class, was simply sensational. He overshadowed everyone in the country, including Riaz, who was not required to bowl at all in the three matches that he played against Sargodha, Peshawar and the semi-final defeat against Karachi B.

The 1964-65 season kicked off with the Ayub Trophy that brought Ramzan (captained) and Riaz, playing alongside each other, this time for Multan. In its opening fixture at Multan Cricket Club (MCC) Ground, the home team registered a convincing win by beating Khairpur by an innings and 73 runs. Riaz was his side’s best bowler with four wickets in each innings and match haul of 8 for 52 off 26.4 overs as Khairpur had no answer and was all out for 78 and 114 in its first and second innings, respectively. In its second group match, Multan hosted Pakistan Works Department (PWD) but were beaten by 248 runs. 

Returning to the game after three years, Ramzan finished his first-class career by leading Multan in the 1967-68 Ayub Trophy. From this point onward, Riaz’ employment in Police, which he joined in 1965, would result in less opportunities of appearance in domestic cricket. Bahawalpur, now led by former Test all-rounder Shuja-ud-din, were knocked out in the first round of the 1968-69 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. The 174-run defeat at the hands of Hyderabad, was a humiliating experience, more so for Riaz, who was returning to the first-class cricket, after a gap of almost 2 ½ years. 

The Twins - Introductry notes reversed - SESCL Pakistan tour 1992

The Twins - Introductry notes reversed - SESCL Pakistan tour 1992

In the 1969-70  Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, Making first use of an easy-paced wicket Bahawalpur, batted better part of two days, to reach 463 all out that featured, Naseer Ahmed (110), Abdul Rahim (62), Gulraiz Wali (80) and Riaz Mahmood, coming in at six with a healthy Bahawalpur score of 344 for 4, hitting a career-best 85. It was a rusty and out-of-form Riaz Mahmood, who entered the first-class arena for a one-off match, after a gap of almost seven years. Bahawalpur, short of experience and quality, put out an SOS call and got a positive answer from Riaz Mahmood to appear in a 1976-77 Patrons’ Trophy fixture against Income Tax This would marked the end of Riaz Mahmood’s 26 match first-class career that had spanned just over 19 years.

'Babar' welcome 1992 Pakistan touring member, Asif Mujtaba @ Heathrow Airport

'Babar' welcome 1992 Pakistan touring member, Asif Mujtaba @ Heathrow Airport

Cricket buffs’ nostalgic link with the Pakistan cricket of the 1950’s, took a severe blow, with the death of Riaz, on Friday 10th January, 2014 in Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, UK. The eldest amongst six brothers and four sisters, Riaz became the head of the family, following the premature death of his father, Ramzan, of a heart attack in Lahore on March 28th, 1982 and later buried in Sialkot.  

Riaz’s numerically modest and undistinguished career that stretched to two decades, masks the fact that he was a quality wrist spinner, whose reputation owed to his cleverly disguised googly. It is not an unfamiliar story of many cricketers of Pakistan, in the period, better known for dedication, pride and love of the game. Short first-class seasons and limited international opportunities, left a generation of cricketers in the country, whose best years were spent in at highly-competitive club level, in the games outside the domain of, recognised first-class cricket. On that score it is a challenge to engage or impress upon a youngster, brought up in a highly-commercialized and packed international cricket calendar, the quality and the contribution of Riaz, to Pakistan cricket

Born on 16th December 1942 in Sialkot (British India), his ancestral town,

Riaz in his teens, now in Bahawalpur, had the privilege to rub shoulders with the members of the Pakistan side as his father Ramzan after a brief stint as a clerk in Pakistan Railways in Lahore, on the invitation of Sir Sadiq Mohammad Khan Abbasi, Nawab of Bahawalpur State, arrived in southern Punjab in the 1951-52 winter. It is also believed that on insistence of Nawab Sahib, Ramzan, seen as a player to help lift the profile of the game in Bahawalpur, declined an offer to play league cricket in UK. 

Ramzan was inducted in the Police force as AS (Assistant Superintendent) in Bahawalpur, the third most important cricket centre, behind Karachi and Lahore. Afterwards, Ramzan also served in Hafizabad, and promoted to Deputy  Superintendent Police (DSP) in Mianwali, Sargodha, Jelhum, Hyderabad (Sind), Muzafarabad, Gujranwala and Lahore, besides being in the Body Guard Force of President Ayub Khan in Rawalpindi. 

The State of Bahawalpur, largely through the patronage of Syed Makhdoomzada Hasan Mahmood, held the added distinction of building the country’s first cricket stadium, named Dring Stadium, later officially changed to Bahawal Satdium . It was no surprise that Bahawalpur was chosen as pre-tour National Camp for Pakistan team, both for the tour of England in 1954 and the West Indies in 1957-58. Riaz grew up among the big names of Pakistan cricket, more so alongside Agha Saadat Ali, Israr Ali, Khan Mohammad, Shuja-ud-din and Zulfiqar Ahmed, for they were all close friends to his father, Muhammad Ramzan.

Riaz took us back to the time in Bahawalpur, in an interview in June 2012, 

‘I was introduced to cricket in Bahawalpur, where my father’s job kept us there for 15 years in the period 1953-68. I attended Technical High School. I have clear memories of the only Test played at Dring Stadium, Bahawalpur, between Pakistan and against India in January 1955. Whilst in Bahawalpur, my father, first established Crescent CC, and then a new club by the name of Eaglets CC.’

Riaz’s first-class career consisted of matches, only in the Pakistan domestic cricket as he was never selected to play against a touring team and neither picked for any overseas tour. There were few near misses, though.  

‘My peak was in 1957-58 when selected for Bahawalpur. My father captained the Pakistan Eaglets team to U.K. in 1958. I could not make it into the side. The other time I came close to selection was in 1962. It was through sheer respect of Pakistan captain Imtiaz Ahmed, nearing the end of his career, that I did not bowl googly, for he was unable to spot my skiddy variety, behind the wicket. Had I continued my normal quota of googly, Imtiaz Sahib was likely to struggle and he might not have toured England in 1962. My father was annoyed as he thought it was too good a chance to be missed after my good performance in the Trial matches in the National Camp.’ 

A slim and wiry figure of Riaz is linked with a remarkable stats for his tailors in Lahore, who as recently as 2012 were still working with the measurements provided by him as a 22-year old, way back in 1965, when he joined police. Following in the footstep of his father and legendry Pakistan bowler Fazal Mahmood, Riaz too served in Pakistan’s Police force. 

Considering his health bouts, which included a heart by-pass operation in Lahore in 1997, Riaz did well to reach the age of 71. He is survived by two wives, six children and seven grandchildren. 

'Babar' with Majestic CC colleague Asad Shamsi, September 1992

'Babar' with Majestic CC colleague Asad Shamsi, September 1992

Tributes for Riaz Mahmood – January 2014

Sheikh Sarbuland, a fanatic cricket supporter and a prominent donator to social causes, spoke from Norwood Green, Middlesex,  

‘My first memory of Riaz is watching him play, as a spectator at Pindi Club Ground when he represented Sargodha in November 1961 in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy match. Rawalpindi was led by Ijaz Butt and he also kept wicket and opened the batting, a role previously performed by Imtiaz Ahmed for Pakistan and for Combined Services.’

‘I played against Riaz Mahmood in a tournament held between the top clubs of Rawalpindi in the early 1960s. He was not a great leg-spinner but everyone feared his googly. That was considered as his wicket-taking delivery. He was playing for Workshop 502 and I was representing CMTSD. Then I also recall he was taken in to the RCA (Rawalpindi Cricket Association) squad of the 1962-63 squad. I was part of the squad that travelled to Peshawar alongside our captain, Maqsood Ahmed. Once Sabir (LBG) made a sensational debut and then picked up 13 wickets against Karachi (led by Raees Mohammad), Riaz was left out.’ 

Imtiaz Ahmed, former wicket-keeper of Pakistan, spoke from Lahore, about his association with the family,

‘Riaz was introduced to me by his father, Chaudhry Muhammad Ramzan. Very fit and active. Most of their cricket was in Bahawalpur. Father was 12th Man for Pakistan on couple of occasions for he was an outstanding all-round fielder. I know he was a Railways clerk before he was taken in Police as ASI. He died during his service now his son has passed away. I am very sad to hear this news for both Ramzan and Riaz were amongst very few leg-spinners in Pakistan at the time’

Mushtaq Mohammad, one of the finest all-rounder and captain to represent Pakistan, between 1958-59 to 1978-79, added his tribute from Birmingham,

‘Mohammad Ramzan, who was from Bahawalpur was my captain on Pakistan Eaglets tour to England in 1958. His son Riaz too played for Bahawalpur in the match when I was selected for Karachi in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy match at KPI, best known for Hanif Bhai’s 499. We won that match and I dismissed Riaz in the second innings. I was only 15 at the time and it was very inspiring to see people like Ramzan and Riaz, bowl decent leg-break and googlies for us to learn this very difficult art. Both myself and Intikhab Alam, were fortunate to get more opportunities than these two. May Allah bless his soul and give his family the courage to bear this loss. My very best regards to Ramzan Sahib’s family’.

Shafqat Rana, a former Test player and a friend, too paid his tribute, from Lahore.

‘This news of Riaz has saddened me so much. Despite my efforts, I had not been able to meet him since we last played for Lahore Education Board in the early 1960s. I had lost touch with him and did not know he was in U.K. I played both for and against Riaz. He was a difficult bowler when I faced him while playing for Government College against Islamia College in Lahore. He had learnt his cricket on the matting and used to bowl his leg-break and googlies at faster pace than you normal leggie. He was more skiddy in the style of India’s two famous leg-spinners, Chandrasekhar and Kumble. I can honestly say that he spun the ball more than Intikhab Alam and Mohammad Sabir, his two contemporaries. Riaz should have played for Pakistan. A very good human being and a dear friend.’

Najum Latif, founding curator of Lahore Gymkhana cricket museum set up in 2003, shared his memories, 

‘I met Riaz Sahib during the 1962 Cricket Camp organised by Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). There were 125-130 boys from colleges and Universities that attended the camp at National Stadium, Karachi, with all the boarding and lodging at the premises. This idea of Annual cricket camp ran out of steam in the 1970s and its revival could revitalise our cricket in the modern times. I have very fond memories and all the participants were divided into three groups that were taken by Maqsood Ahmed (Chief Coach), Master Aziz Durani & Nazar Mohammad. Riaz Sahib and I were in Maqsood Sahib’s group. We knew him as Muhammad Ramzan’s son and what impressed us beside his cricketing prowess was the fact that he was the only one in the Camp who smoked. This six-week training was memorable for us and I still retain a very nostalgic and sentimental. We were all sad when we left Karachi. I played Riaz Sahib in the nets and also in the matches. He was a capable leg-spinner but did not bowl googly, to my knowledge. This Camp was also attended by very talented players such as Shafqat Rana, Asif Iqbal, Salim Altaf, Munawwar Hussain (SLA), Ghulam Abbas and Younis Ahmed’

The reunion of three friends – Arshad Bokhari, Gulraiz Wali & Riaz Mahmood - with strong Bahawalpur link proved a memorable afternoon for all, including the subscriber. One of the participants Arshad Bokhari, who travelled from Croydon, Surrey, fondly took us on a journey, memory down lane, following Riaz Mahmood’s death,

‘Salim, I will remain grateful for your efforts regarding our reunion in Slough in March 2013. I, Riaz Mahmood and Gulraiz Wali had not seen each other for more than forty years. We are all going to miss Riaz, as he was a close friend, who I had sadly lost contact with. We were both students at Technical High School (THS), Bahawalpur, when it was established back in 1954. I was in that school till 1958, when our family moved back to Lahore. Our school team’s captain was our dear friend (the late) Jamil Khalid, son of Abdul Majeed Khan, the first Principal of THS. Me and Jamil, both bowled slow left-arm, we had Riaz Mahmood’s leg spin and googly, off spinner Athar Ali and a superb wicket-keeper batsman Ijaz ‘Kapra’ Hussain, which made for a very strong school side. May Allah bless Riaz’s soul. My best wishes to Chaudhry Ramzan Sahib’s family.’

Friends Reunion - March 2013 - (L to R) - Gulraiz Wali, Riaz Mahmood and Arshad Bukhari.

Friends Reunion - March 2013 - (L to R) - Gulraiz Wali, Riaz Mahmood and Arshad Bukhari.

The Twins : The youngest of Ramzan’s sons - twins, Shahzad (better known as Babar) and Shahbaz, have been inseparable all their lives. Both represented St. Mary HS, Gulberg and Forman Christian (F.C) College, Lahore in the 1980-84 period. Introduced to the college team by Sajid Bokhari, captained by Iqbal Saeed, it also included Nasir Javed ‘Charlie’. Opening the batting with an innings of 60 - Shahbaz holds on dearly to a cap and a jumper presented by Nawaz Sharif at the Bagh-i-Jinnah Ground, Lahore. The twins also appeared for RA Bazar Gymkhana. Soon after its registration, Ramzan CC won the prestigious All Pakistan Tournament in Multan in 1989, watched by older brother Riaz Perhaps the proudest moments of their cricketing lives. 

It was unfortunate the twins did not feature in Pakistan first-class cricket with ‘Babar’ coming close, with an appearance in the 1986-87 BCCP Patrons’ Trophy for Lahore City Whites. With the exception of Shahid, who lives in Canada, eight of Ramzan’s children are based in U.K. The UK phase of the family’s cricket, would kick off with, Zahid and Shahid, representing Slough CC in Berkshire in 1983 onwards. After their arrival in UK in 1991, the twins ‘Babar’ and Shahbaz’s first experience of club cricket was with Slough Majestic, in the South East Sunday Cricket League (SESCL). Oozing with talent and skills groomed in Lahore, the toughest cricket environment in Pakistan, the twins made an immediate impact. 

Perhaps the most talented of Ramzan’s sons, ‘Babar’ and Shahbaz have also represented a number of local clubs, both in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire,  including Slough, Burnham, Maidenhead & Bray, Pickneys Green, Datchet, Farnham Royal and Farnham Common. The passion of cricket has filtered down into the third generation as Riaz’s own sons, Aamir Riaz and Atif Khan, too have played in various clubs, for more than a decade. Slough Majestic, a cricket club that was founded in the late 1980s, for participation in the South East Sunday Cricket League (SESCL), was from the mid 1990s, run exclusively by Ramzan’s sons and grandsons, eventually in 2009, appropriately renamed Ramzan CC.

‘Babar’ with his breath taking brilliance behind the stumps, in addition to his accomplished batting is an absolute joy to watch. Shahbaz, a complete all-rounder and has a real presence on a cricket field with his immaculate appearance and co-ordeal demeanour. An orthodox right-hand batsman, who bowled a full quota of overs in the middle of the innings of measured medium-fast, he was also feared for his arrow like throw from the deep. 

As pedigree players, it was only natural for the twins to adapt so quickly on soft English wickets and earn a reputation as match-winning brothers helping Slough Majestic to Premier Division title in 1994 and 1998. The twins toured Pakistan with SESCL team in 1992 and as part of the 20th anniversary of the league also accompanied a side to Dubai in 2003.  Since changing the name to Ramzan CC in the 2008-09 period, the club has triumphed once with a Premier Division title in 2012. 

Shahbaz after four years at Farnham Royal (2013-16) has switched over to Farnham Common and also taking his son Aaman with him, for the last two seasons, Retaining their appetite, ‘Babar’ and Shahbaz, have both also appeared for Buckinghamshire over 50s. Apart from Aaman, Atif  Riaz, Amir Riaz, Faisal Chaudhry, Salman Chaudhry, Ahmed Chaudhry and Imran Paswal, too have represented a number of local clubs, as the third generation of the family.

Mohammad Khalid, a fellow Slough Majestic cricketer, sums up his experience of playing with the Ramzan brothers. 

‘I had the privilege of playing with all 4 brothers, first Zahid and then Shahid for one season with Slough CC, when he was visiting UK. A couple of things that stood out immediately were, firstly they loved the game and played with fierce determination and secondly very important aspect was their insistence on playing the game fairly, respecting the game, its rules and the opposition equally. These were the days of your own umpires, before the league started providing neutral umpires, but Ramzan brothers never stooped or encouraged the team to go down to that level.’

‘’Babar’ and Shahbaz were very good cricketers, with abilities honed with regular practice and desire to win every match. ‘Babar’ was without any doubt the best wicket keeper in the league and his destructive batting won many battles for our team. Shahbaz was a calm leader, who led by example, always putting the team first and could go up the gears easily, if the situation demanded. He also possessed a strong accurate arm, which enabled him to throw from anywhere in the field, right on top of the stumps , creating many run out victims. Both were extremely modest and humble about their abilities. It was an absolute joy to have played with them.’ 

First-class Career:

Mohammad Ramzan (1937-38 to 1967-68)

35 matches 1168 runs @ 24.85 – HS 139 plus nine fifties – 20 catches

68 wickets @ 18.20 with BB 7/37

Iqbal Chaudhry (1954-55 to 1969-70)

40 matches 1294 runs @ 21.56 – HS 72 – 8 fifties – 24 catches

4 wickets @ 37.25 – BB 2/81 

Riaz Mahmood (1957-58 to 1976-77)

26 matches, 552 runs @ 14.52 – HS 85 - 2 fifties - 6 catches

41 wickets @ 23.29 – BB 7/33

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