Abdul Qadir started his serious cricket career under me, when he joined the Habib Bank (in the 1970s) and I was his captain. So it has been a long association – teammates at Habib Bank and then teammates for Pakistan. We had a great time, when I was the Pakistan captain and after that as well.
He redefined leg-break. Leg-break as a lethal weapon started from Abdul Qadir and he always had the last word on that. He was the one who gave the googly and flipper completely different dimensions.
If he were playing now, he would have had 500-600 Test wickets. Nobody could understand his flippers. He had two different types of googlies and very few batsmen could read him. Even Viv Richards struggled to pick him.
Unfortunately, front-foot LBWs were virtually non-existent those days. So batsmen used the front foot as an escape route. Umpires these days don’t hesitate to give front-foot LBWs.
If the ball is pitching in line and hitting the stumps, you are out irrespective of it hitting the front foot or back foot. Also, you have the TV umpire and the benefit of the DRS. Those days, a lot of times even the umpires didn’t know what Qadir was bowling.
Shane Warne has learnt so much from Qadir, you can’t even believe it. In fact, I won’t be exaggerating if I say Qadir gave the flipper – a lethal one at that – to the world. Even before he was selected to play for Pakistan, I knew he was going to have a special career. He was playing for my bank and I saw him at close quarters and nurtured him.
He went on to become a magician, which the likes of Richards, Clive Lloyd and Desmond Hayens would attest.
First-class cricket in Pakistan was very strong back then and Habib Bank boasted of almost a Test side.
Playing for such a strong team helped Qadir grow rapidly. I, as his captain, also had a great understanding with him. By the way, his action was natural. He also used the crease beautifully.
At the nets, I picked him. I used to bowl a bit of leg-break also, which helped.
But the only overseas batsman who could picked him properly was Sunil Gavaskar. It had to be, for in my book, Gavaskar tops the list as far as batsmanship is concerned. Batsmen from the subcontinent play spin well in any case. But Gavaskar was a different league. He played fearsome fast bowling without wearing a helmet and scored centuries after centuries. And he played spin with equal aplomb. Lesser mortals used to be completely at sea against Qadir.
Imran Khan, when he was the Pakistan captain, was a little reluctant to bring Qadir to the ODI fold. Leg-spinners weren’t picked for limited-overs cricket back then.
People were concerned about giving away runs. But I persuaded Imran and convinced him to bring Qadir into the ODI setup. My logic was simple, he might concede a few extra runs, but he would pick wickets.
Qadir was a match-winner. You can add another 300-odd limited-overs scalp to his tally if he were playing today. Now the bowlers have the rules and technology to back them.
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