Mudassar Nazar: ‘Losing was never an option when we were playing India’

Former Pakistan all-rounder Mudassar Nazar talks about his playing days, his favourite opening pairs, and the need for a structure in Pakistan cricket.

Mudassar Nazar in action against India in June 1987.

Mudassar Nazar in action against India in June 1987. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Former Pakistan all-rounder Mudassar Nazar talks about his playing days, his favourite opening pairs, and the need for a structure in Pakistan cricket.

Former Pakistan international Mudassar Nazar was a batting all-rounder of great verve and skill. Nazar, 66, played 76 Tests and 122 ODIs between 1976 and 1989 and scored over 6,000 international runs and picked 177 wickets.

In fact, Mudassar (231) and Javed Miandad (280 not out) had equalled the record for the highest partnership, at the time, in Test cricket by scoring 451 for the third wicket, against India in Hyderabad in January 1983.

Since retiring, Nazar has overseen Pakistan and the Kenyan national teams. Additionally, he held the role of Director of Development at the Pakistan Cricket Board where he designed and implemented their National Academy and Coach Education programs.

He talks about his playing days, his favourite opening pairs, and the need for a structure in Pakistan cricket.

Q. You have 10 Test hundreds. A lot of them came against India. Was there any additional motivation when facing them?

A. I was mainly a front foot player and low bounce pitches of the sub-continent suited my batting technique. As for motivation against India, with both sets of supporters demanding success, it brought huge pressure and losing was never an option. Having said that, I did not prepare any differently than normal, although after my failure on the 1980 tour of India (he made 231 runs in five Tests with a hundred), I made a slight change in my stance. It worked as I stopped getting trapped on the leg side.

The Mudassar-Mohsin Khan combo or the Greenidge-Haynes combo or the Hayden-Langer combo, why don't we see opening combos like that anymore?

After the First World War, the great opening partnership of (Jack) Hobbs and (Herbert) Sutcliffe came into prominence. After that, it took England 16 years to find a regular opening partner for Len Hutton when Cyril Washbrook joined him in 1946. The history of cricket is littered with such instances. Opening the batting is a difficult task. We were lucky that Mohsin (Khan) and I formed a partnership soon after Majid and Sadiq finished, and it was not long before Saeed Anwar and Aamer Sohail took that position. I hasten to add all of us cannot be compared to the illustrious names you have mentioned but we did provide some solidity to our team.

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You were part of teams with great pacers like Imran Khan and spinners like Abdul Qadir, could you speak about that phase?

Pakistan had a great batting line-up in the 1970s. All of them played County cricket in England. But we never really achieved success until Imran came of age. You win Test matches by taking 20 wickets. In Fazal Mahmood, we had a great bowler and he brought huge success to the Pakistan team in our formative years. From then onward we had decent bowlers but none of the quality of Imran. After Imran took 12 wickets in the Sydney Test in 1976, he became a world-class bowler. Suddenly, we had a steady stream of bowlers who wanted to bowl fast. In 1984, the greatest left-arm fast bowler of all time, Wasim Akram, burst onto the scene and took the team to greater heights. Qadir was phenomenal. Sarfraz and Iqbal Qasim were extremely good bowlers too. It was fantastic to have them on our side. We felt once we could put up a good score, we had the bowling strength to win consistently.

Pakistan had a great batting line-up in the 1970s. All of them played County cricket in England. But we never really achieved success until Imran (Khan) came of age. You win Test matches by taking 20 wickets.

—  Mudassar Nazar

The Pakistani team in the 1970s, '80s, '90s and even in the 2000s was filled with great players. But do you feel the talent pipeline has dried up now?

Our domestic cricket lacks facilities. Players who played County cricket honed their skills in England apart from Hanif Mohammad. Ranji Trophy has been part and parcel of Indian cricket for a greater part of a century. We have changed our system umpteen times. No stability and no sense of direction. Until we address that we will always struggle to find success on a consistent basis. There will always be the likes of Wasim and Waqar (Younis) who, through their unbelievable skills, will burst through but once the likes of them fade we will be facing the same old struggle.

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Do you regret the lack of bilateral series between India and Pakistan?

I wish India and Pakistan played on a regular basis. It is such a great spectacle, and the world of cricket is a loser (without the bilaterals). Rivalry is as strong as friendship. That is the beauty of it. Play hard to win and accept defeat as part of the game. While the players believe in this, it is a whole lot different for both sets of fans. No anecdotes, as they are private and buried in memorable memories.

Lastly, who in your era would have aced T20s now?

I think all four great all-rounders of my era would have been in huge demand today. Imran, Kapil (Dev), (Ian) Botham and Richard Hadlee along with Viv Richards would have fetched millions of dollars. There are plenty of other names too.

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