Cricket World is stunned at a very sad news. The great leg spinner of 1980s Abdul Qadir of Pakistan passed away due to cardiac arrest in Lahore on 6th September 2019 aged 63. Its a shocking news for all cricket lovers particularly those who were young during 1980s.
The art of leg spin almost started to ebb away during the 80s after its exponents like Richie Benaud, and B S Chandrasekhar were done with their careers. It was in 1977 when Qadir made his test debut against England at home and took 6/44 in one of his first impact spells in a drawn series. However it was only during Imran Khan’s regime as a captain starting in 1982, did the whole world began to realise Qadir’s worth as a bowler and performances started to pour in from the leggie who needed a bit of confidence from his captain to showcase his art albeit at the risk of giving away some runs. Imran, the positive captain that he was , always punted with talents whom he felt will do wonders. He gave Qadir all the confidence and a regular spot in the team for him to play with freedom and with security. The skills started to flow and along with that wickets started to come. Qadir was a brilliant leg spinner, with his famous bouncy and extremely quick arm action which made it very difficult for the batsmen to read his hands. His action became a rage during those days and suddenly kids started to copy him to become leg spinners. He had excellent flight and loop, the genuine leg spinner , a deadly flipper and probably the finest ever googly in the game which bamboozled many top batsmen. He was extremely attacking and therefore at times tried too hard and went for runs. He needed a captain who would understand and support him and Imran fitted in the bill wonderfully. Even jokes used to fly around those days when fans used to jokingly say that Qadir was Imran’s son. In those days of home based umpires in Test cricket, Qadir may have had some marginal decisions going his way in home test matches but was also unlucky of many clear decisions going against him when he played overseas ,mainly because the overseas umpires, particularly in England, Australia and New Zealand could hardly read his craft which could be one of the reasons of his less impressive overseas record. Also had the front foot lbw rule been more prevalent in those days , Qadir’s wicket tally would have gone further up. Even the modern review system would have helped him. Many legspinners of the 1990s including Shane Warne and Mushtaq Ahmed had Qadir as their role models and Warne went on record mentioning it many times in the past.
Qadir was a vociferous appealer , keeping the umpires on their toes and batsmen even used to get nervous and felt pressures by his appealing alone. At his peak ,he was almost unplayable in Pakistan as England, Australian and West Indian batsmen of the 80s would testify. His first real successful series came in the 3 test series vs Australia at home where he took 22 wickets on spin friendly pitches and Pakistan won 3-0 . Kim Hughes always struggled to pick him and the great player of spin bowling in that era , Allan Border even struggled to read him in that series. In the 1987 series vs England he took 30 wickets in 3 tests including match figures of 13 for 101 at his home ground in Gadaffi stadium Lahore when he decimated a good quality English batting lineup and took astonishing figures of 9/56 in 1st innings. Those days Gooch and Gatting were two very good players of spin and Qadir trapped Gatting lbw in both innings. Again in the series vs the all conquering West Indies at home , the first test at Faislabad was a low scoring affair and the formidable batting lineup of West Indies was given a target of 240 in 4th innings. However Imran and Qadir combined to blow away West indies for just 53 in 25 overs for Pakistan to win by 186 runs. Qadir bewildered the starstudded Windies batting lineup with his flippers and googlies to take 6/16 including Richards for nought, Gomes and Richardson ,all great players of spin. Qadir took 18 wickets in that 3 test series vs West Indies which was drawn 1-1. In 67 tests he took 236 wickets at 32.80 average with 15 fifers and scored 1000 plus runs at 15 average being a decent lower order batsman. His only blemish had been his mediocre overseas record and only in West indies ,he was somewhat successful with 14 wickets in 3 tests. The strong Indian batting lineup poccessing fine players of spin those days also put him to stern test.
Qadir also broke the myth that leg spinners are not fit for one day cricket as they are supposed to leak runs. However Imran showed the courage to play him in ODIs and Qadir proved that wicket taking rather than checking the flow of runs should always be the aim in ODIs too.He was successful in ODIs with 132 wickets in 104 games and kept the top batsmen guessing with his skillful variations not afraid to bowl attackingly and even experimenting. In a way he was the trendsetter of leg spin bowling in ODI cricket. He won a gripping World cup 1987 league game at Lahore vs the all conquering West indies in the last over through his batting by hitting Walsh for a 6 and a 4 in last over.
Being a charismatic leg spinner, Qadir was a very friendly individual and was liked by his opponents. He had great sportsman spirit and did not have any airs. He was always graceful in his praise of his opponents and was particularly impressed with a young 16 year old Tendulkar when the young prodigy hammered Qadir for 4 sixes in an unofficial rain curtailed ODI at Peshawar in 1989 . Qadir predicted big things for Tendulkar straightaway. He had great relations with the Indian cricket team during his times.
Abdul Qadir will always be remembered as a great legspinner who revived the dying art of leg spin in the 1990s. His demise has caused great damage to the World cricket in general and Pakistan in particular as he would have offered so much to the budding cricketers who want to be leg spinners. Big loss to cricket in the subcontinent. We pray that his soul rest in peace.