Pakistan’s most stylish stroke-player was one hell of a batsman to watch…..
When we think back on some of the most graceful Pakistan batsmen to ever play the game, the first player that comes to mind is Hanif Mohammad, who mesmerised the world with his elegant strokeplay. However, over the years after that, many Pakistan batsmen have come close. Be it Mohammad Yousuf, Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and even the recently retired Younis Khan. However, there was one player, whose name for a reason is unknown and is not taken in the same breath and that is Majid Khan.
Majid played for almost two decades for Pakistan, which included 63 Tests and 23 ODIs, scoring over 4,500 international runs in the process. He was also a handy bowler, who started off as a fast bowler, but due to an injury, turned into an off-spinner. His bowling fetched him 223 First-Class and 71 List A wickets.
However, it is his batting for which he was renowned for. Lack of Test schedule for the Pakistan team ensured that he managed to play just 63 Tests in a nearly two-decade international career, thereby denying the world of watching one of the best in the world in action.
Majid was also Pakistan’s first ever century scorer in ODIs. In 1974, he scored 109 off just 93 deliveries and helped Pakistan chase their target of 245 easily. Majid is the only Pakistani and one among five players to score a century before lunch on Day One. He achieved this feat against New Zealand at Karachi in the 1976-77 Test series.
Majid was also a fantastic slip fielder. He has taken over 450 catches in his career, most of which were standing in the slip cordon.
Believe it or not, Majid’s international career ended when his cousin Imran Khan dropped Majid – Who Imran considered as his hero – from the side.
Family of international cricketers
Majid’s father Dr. Jahangir Khan played 4 Tests for India, before the partition. Jahangir also once killed a sparrow with his flight while bowling at Lord’s. The ball and the bird are kept in the Lord’s museum for display. Majid’s son Bazid also represented Pakistan, making his debut in 2005. Theirs was just the second family since the Headleys – George, Ron and Dean – to have three generations of cricketers playing at the international level. Javed Burki and Imran Khan are his cousins and like Majid, they also had the opportunity to lead Pakistan. Imran now leads the entire country, having been recently elected to Prime Minister.
Majid’s elder brother Asad Jahangir too played professional cricket. During his stint with Oxford University, he took his best First-Class figures of 7-84 with his off-breaks against the visiting Australian team during his stint in 1968 and 69.
The family’s tryst with cricket does not end there. Majid’s cousin Javed Zaman, Nephew Kamran Khan and uncle Baga Jilani too had illustrious First-Class careers. It goes without saying that cricket runs in the family, but just a few had an opportunity to play cricket at the highest level.
Majid is considered to be the most graceful batsman in his family. He was often described as a highly skilled surgeon, with an ability to cut, pull, hook and drive with utmost ease and grace.
On a broken wicket against Derbyshire, Majid scored 156 on a broken wicket in June 1969, which was considered to be the greatest innings the world has seen.
In fact, in 1997, a 51-year-old Majid Khan showed up against the visiting English side and scored an unbeaten 51 after Lahore Gymkhana was reduced to 33-6. His innings left the England players and journalists stunned.
Taking on the mighty West Indies
It has never been easy to take on the West Indies attack of the 70s and the 80s. Very few have sucessfully negotiated them and they have gone on to become the legends of the game. Take Sunil Gavaskar for example. He made his Test debut at Port of Spain against the West Indies and scored twin fifties to help India win. In the 4 Tests Gavaskar played in that series, he slammed 774 runs at 154.80, which included 4 centuries, 3 fifties and a highest score of 220. He went on to become a legend of the game and was the first ever batsman to score 10,000 runs.
While Majid did not go on to have glorious records of Gavaskar, he held his ground incredibly well. Against a fast bowling attack consisting of Joel Garner, Colin Croft and Andy Roberts, Majid was Pakistan’s highest run-getter in the series with 530 runs 53, scoring a century and three fifties.
Majid opened the batting with Sadiq Mohammad in the series. After starting off as a middle-order batsman, Pakistan captain Mushtaq Mohammad promoted Majid to the openers’ slot in 1974 and he tasted most of his success in that position. He scored 1,985 runs at 42.23 opening the innings for Pakistan. It was not a difficult transformation to make as he has played 15 Tests at the coveted No. 3 position, in which he scored 816 runs at 38.85. However, it was in the opening slot he was more deadly, scoring 5 out of his 8 hundreds in that position.
It is not possible to talk about Majid, without talking about his stint at Glamorgan in County cricket. When Pakistan toured England in 1967, Majid scored 147 in just 89 minutes, which included five sixes in a row off off-break bowler Roger Davis. Majid scored the century in just 61 minutes. Incidentally, Garry Sobers hit six sixes of Malcolm Nash on the same ground in the very next season.
After that, Glamorgan secretary Wilf Wooler, persuaded his good friend Jahangir Khan – Majid’s father – to convince his son join the club as their overseas player in 1968. Majid had a good stint in England during his time with Cambridge University, just like his father. Majid scored 2,545 runs at 53.02 in 29 First-Class matches for Cambridge, which included 9 centuries and 13 fifties.
As far his Glamorgan stint is concerned, he had a highly successful one. He played 154 games, ins which he scored 9,610 runs at 37.98. He also scored 21 hundreds and 47 half-centuries.
An interesting character
Cricket is considered to be a gentleman’s game, however, not everyone plays the spirit of the sport. Majid has always shown terrific sportsmanship in this regard. If he knew he is out, he would walk, not waiting for the umpire’s decision. He always put a price on his wicket as well, regardless of which team or tournament he played for. In one such instance, he sawed his bat after he was dismissed in a County game against Derbyshire. He cut his bat into pieces and threw the pieces in the dressing room.
Once in 1978, Pakistan played India in a Test at Lahore. India’s spearhead Kapil Dev bowled a couple of deliveries well down the leg side and the umpire did not call that as wide. As a result, Majid pulled the leg stump off the pitch and placed it two yards away and gestured to Kapil to at least now bowl within the stumps.
Like his cousin Imran, Majid too is from the Cambridge University, which also has future Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as proud alumni. There were rumours of an affair between Benazir and Imran, but the two have always denied it. The story goes as far as to say that Imran’s mother wanted to facilitate an arranged marriage between the two.
However, in an interview published by the Press Trust of India (PTI) in 2011, Imran revealed that one of his cousins was interested in Bhutto. Imran said, “One of my cousins was interested in her (Bhutto) and she also took an interest when I introduced them to each other. At one point, marriage was virtually on the cards.” Was Imran talking about Majid by any chance?
After his playing days, Majid became the CEO of PCB. In the wake of the match-fixing scandal in the 1999 World Cup came up, he resigned from his post. Similarly, when Majid was being considered for the Pakistan national team, his father Jahangir was the chief selector. To ensure that there is an impartial discussion, Jahangir resigned from the post of a chief selector.
Majid and his family of cricketers will forever live on in the hearts of all cricket fans.