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Saturday, November 17, 2018

emerging out of shadows of father ~ and playing for another country

Subash Gupte, VV Kumar, BS Chandrasekhar, MV Narasimha Rao, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Narendra Hirwani, Anil Kumble, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla, Yuzvindra Chahal  ……….all leg spinners – who played for India.  Across the border, there was a legend with a different action, springy jump, landing the ball near leg and turning it big .. .. .. he played 67 tests took 236 wickets and 132 wickets in 104 one dayers.  Qadir had an ordinary Test debut against England in December 1977, where he scored 11 with the bat and took a solitary wicket of England’s No. 11 Bob Willis.  However,  had a  brilliant ODI debut against New Zealand at Edgbaston during the 1983 WC. With his all-round performance of 12-4-21-4 and 41 not out, also the top score of Pakistan’s innings, he was adjudged the man of the match, albeit in a losing cause.


In that Test at Chennai Chepauk in Feb 1987, which I would remember ever for that magnificent century by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Pak scored 487/9 & 182/3 with India scoring massive 527/9 decl. – the man Abdul Qadir. In Reliance World Cup 1987,  it was the last over, to be bowled by Courtney Walsh, West Indies looked to have it in the bag. Pakistan needed 14 runs off the six.  Abdul Qadir took a single off the first ball and Saleem Jaffar another off the second, leaving 12 to get off four. Qadir, who had done nothing of significance with the ball in that match turned it on, hitting a two and then launching a straight six that drew the crowd roaring to its feet. They ran another two off the next ball, leaving two to get off the last. Walsh ran in to bowl the last ball and pulled up without delivering: Jaffar, at the non-striker's end, was well out of his crease, heading up the wicket. Walsh could have run him out comfortably but chose not to do so and headed back to bowl the delivery again. Qadir scored  the necessary runs off the last ball. Pakistan were through, Qadir was a hero – Walsh though earned a name for being a sportsman, let his side badly down and West Indies’ downslide started around that time. 

A couple of years later in 1989 when India toured Pak with Srikkanth at helm, a 16 year old Sachin Tendulkar made his debut – an onedayer at Peshavar was washed out and a festive match was played.  In an interesting anecdote when Sachin walked in – India  needed 69 runs in five overs or so. He had a go at Mushtaq Ahmed who had taken two wickets and hit him for a couple of sixes. Qadir then came up and  said, "Bachchon ko kyon mar rahe ho? Hamein bhi maar dikhao" ("Why are you only hitting the kid? Hit me too.")  In that 20 over match  Pakistan had  put on 157 and India only got close thanks to an 18-ball 53 from a 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar. One over from Abdul Qadir read: 6, 0, 4, 6 6 6. It announced Tendulkar to the world.

Decades have passed by, Qadir, too retired, became a commentator, sports administrator and more .. he had sons and loved them deep – his   last son, was the one he chose to attend the Madrassa to learn the Hafiz Qur’an. The one he stopped from playing cricket for Pakistan to avoid accusations of nepotism. And when he stepped into the playing arena, there were always comments that he was there because of his father and not by his game. Still, in Pak, crowds mob Qadir wherever he is seen, seeking autographs and hearing his sharing events of his playing days.  

As the child of a legend, Usman Qadir  was born with a silver spoon, but says that they were not as rich as  some people might think. They  lived in a big house in the grand city of Lahore, the family had a car and everything needed. Usman says that there  were four floors in our house. The first was rented out. On the second was his  father’s office. The third floor was where they  lived and on the fourth was a terrace with a barbeque. On the terrace there was space for games of tennis ball-cricket and they used Qadir’s  bowling machine. They would fly kits too as it was a popular pastime in Pakistan back then.  He claims having seen Shane Warne and Anil Kumble visiting their house to meet Abdul Qadir.  At a very young age, the son of Qadir had the opportunity of bowling at Gadaffi stadium in the nets to Marvan Atapattu and mucking around with Murali.

The other brothers were good cricketers and each played for first-class teams at home. However, Abdul Qadir , by that time, would sometimes speak up about things he saw were going wrong at the Pakistan Cricket Board, which made it hard for his son’s careers to progress.  Now, one of them is in England playing club cricket and running a business, another takes care of Qadir’s  academy in Lahore and the other runs a property business.  Usman did his  studies at the Madrassa and would go  straight to his  father’s academy to practise.  He was selected for Pak U15 .. ..but people were not looking at his performances, just the name.   When people saw ‘Qadir’ they would know he was the son of the great Abdul Qadir. People would talk  behind on his selection because of that.

Bowling leg spin is very hard. To put it in the right place every ball is a great challenge, so I was asking my dad all the time to help me. He was a great support, I was doing well and getting better every day. Quips Usman.  Then something peculiar happened. I was playing in a national tournament and did very well. In one match I took seven wickets including a hat-trick. The people at the Pakistan Cricket Board could watch the game because they could view the ground from their offices. I was named best bowler in the tournament. Pakistan A was going to tour Australia soon afterwards. The PCB chairman at the time, Ijaz Butt, and two other selectors put my name in the squad. However, my father, who was the chief selector at that time, took my name off the list. He said he would resign from his post if they put my name back again. The chief executive, Wasim Bari, asked my father why he cut my name from the squad. Everything had been ready; my clothes, my visas, my flights. My father told him that people would think I was selected only because I was his son. It was a very hard time for me. That was when I started to tell my father that I wanted to leave Pakistan and play in Australia.

Now Usman Qadir is all set to play for Australia .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Nov. 2018. Excerpted from  https://www.playersvoice.com.au/


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