Fazal Mahmood, the legend - Appreciation Thread


Test Debutant
Jun 27, 2013
Post of the Week
Do not know what spurred me on to making this thread, just felt an inner jingoistic vibe, that patriotic feeling that postulates when your nation on the depths of igonominy within the confines of the known criterion and the inherent global hatred towards you and your country, I'm not just specifying cricket, but everthing, this seemingly systemic bias against us for the crimes, sins and acts of demonically despotic individuals has led to a delusional image of all the values that we never stand for.

You might be wondering- why bring Sir Fazal into this ? For I believe that amongst the deeply stymied nature of Pakistani cricket and its negatively ominous prognostications, a figure of true class and legacy needs to be drawn upon. Again why sir Fazal, when we have many other revered personalities ? Fazal Mahmood ignited the perennial fire of fast bowling which has been of utmost pride to us Pakistani cricket supporters, for he instigated the now, longlist of legendary fast bowlers: Imran, Wasim, Waqar, Aaqib, Sarfaraz to name a few.

Just to leave it to that understatement would mean an insult to the intrinsically integral debt Pakistani cricket owes to this man. The rapid escalation of founding steps were instigated by Mahmood, getting 12 wickets against England at the Oval in 1954 for our ground breaking victory there, 12 wickets against India and 13 wickets against Australia to record our maiden test wins. It was because of Sir Fazal's irreplaceable contributions that put us onto the world cricketing map. So I believe that we should appreciate the huge regard this great man deserves , especially in these times of intense uncertainty.
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Was expecting a more positive response to this thread, perhaps this exemplifies the kind of underrating he had gone through his whole life, to the extent the PCB didn't even recognise any of his acheivements.
He was a fast bowler because Ava Gardner wanted to dance with him, Noor Jehan allegedly sang a song about his hair and the Queen did a double-take at his blue eyes and asked him where he was really from. He was a fast bowler because he chain-smoked. He was a fast bowler because he had great hair and made sure Brylcreem knew it. He was a fast bowler because, on board the SS Batory to England for the 1954 tour, he worked out during the day and was a big hunk of life and love on the dance floors at night. He was a fast bowler because he got film offers from both sides of the border. He was a fast bowler because he drove around Lahore in a nifty little white MG. He was a fast bowler because neither was he retiring and nor did he retire gracefully. He was a fast bowler because no Test was knowingly beyond his grasp.
Until the end of March 1959, Pakistan’s first golden age, Fazal was a giant; 114 wickets in just 24 Tests, close to 40 per cent of all wickets taken by Pakistani bowlers. To that add the 36 wickets he took in seven unofficial Tests played in the run-up to Pakistan’s first official Test. Few of those were freebies: 93 of his wickets were specialist batsmen. The men he dismissed most often? The cream of the age: Conrad Hunte, Polly Umrigar, Vijay Manjrekar, Gary Sobers, Neil Harvey, Denis Compton thrice in four Tests, Sir Len Hutton twice in two Tests. All this leaves as little doubt to his greatness as he carried within himself, and it led Pakistan to wins in India, England, West Indies, against Australia and New Zealand in their first eight years; at least one against every country they played. No full member has had as promising a start and no one did more than Fazal, with 65 wickets in the seven wins he played in.
It also takes away from his lesser-celebrated prowess as a stock bowler, capable of plugging up an end when the going wasn’t so bright. His stamina was as robust as that of a long-distance runner, the result of a regime as strict as it was simple: from his school days, every day, he would skip rope and go for a ten-mile jog from 430 am, no matter the weather. Imran and his charges would later also learn the same, straightforward truth of running that Fazal had done. They bore extraordinary results. Through England in 1954, he bowled a staggering 677 overs. In Jamaica in 1958, as Sobers made his 365, Fazal took on the load of two men. Mahmood Hussain pulled up with an injury in his very first over so Fazal wheeled down 85.2 overs; only four bowlers have ever bowled more in an innings and all of them were spinners. In his last two Tests in England in 1962, broadened mid-riff now accompanying him, he bowled 63, 60 and 49 overs in three innings. He bowled 45 overs on one day - one day! - of the fourth Test, bowling for all but half an hour of England’s seven-and-a-half hour innings.

Mahmood was an Adonis in flannels, with sparkling blue eyes. Benaud says in his book My spin on cricket, that he could not take his eyes off Mahmood’s face, the Pakistani being the handsomest man he had ever seen. Nature also endowed him with a six-foot-two-inch frame, long arms and legs, supple wrists, and beautiful long fingers.

Niggardly is not nature. In overflowing the cup, it also gifted him with supreme talent. Mahmood, from his teens, with fierce determination – dedicated his waking and sleeping to becoming the best exponent of the new ball in history.

A rhythmic run up and a perfect delivery action, left arm strictly at twelve-a-clock position, helped him achieve pin-point accuracy.

Armed with it, he added to his repertoire, mastering the in-swing, out-swing, and the beautiful swerve ball which served him so well throughout his career. But the coup d’grace, with which he felled so many giants, was the in swinging leg-cutter. To the right-handers it was the most difficult delivery, for on leaving the hand it would swing in, landing on the blind spot then darting to middle and off-stump. The batsmen, instinctively following the ball towards leg, exposing the stumps and creating an angle for the ball moving away from the bat. The result: bowled or edged to keeper or first slip.

To the left-handed breed the in-swinging leg-cutter (out-swing off-cutter) was even more lethal they being prone to leaving a gap while playing through the covers. In fact, Mahmood had claimed the wickets of Neil Harvey and Sir Garfield Sobers six times out of 10 on that delivery.

The leg-cut master Sir Alec Bedser bowled Sir Donald Bradman with this delivery in the fourth Test at Adelaide in the 1946-7 series. “Moreover Bradman also said the ball with which Alec dismissed him was the best he ever received.” (Alex Bannister “Cricket Heroes” p.19).

In Appendix 2 of “Art of Swing and Fast Bowling” of Mahmood’s book “Dusk to Dawn” (pp.213-220) he has given a highly technical description of the vast varieties he was able to bowl at command.

To add greater variety and make life more difficult for the batsmen, he improvised by using the unconventional use of the crease bowling an in-swinger from close to the stumps and an outs-winger from the return crease. Alf Gover categorically said it was “impossible.” Mahmood made the impossible possible reducing Gover to holding his head and asking “what metal was I made of” (“Dusk to Dawn” p.215-216).

It is no wonder that Mahmood was able to turn out tremendous performances some of which are listed below:

Mahmood is the only Pakistani cricketer to have won a place in Wisden on his first appearance on English soil (1954). He was the first Pakistani to be selected by Wisden in 1955.

Mahmood is the only pace bowler in the world who has taken 12 or more wickets against four countries he played against (against India at Lucknow, against England at the Oval, against Australia at Karachi and against the West Indies at Dacca), with New Zealand being the only country to have been left out. While Muttiah Murlitharan is the only spinner who has completed this haul against six different countries, he played Test cricket against nine countries as opposed to Mahmood, who played against only five.

Mahmood was the prime architect in all of Pakistan’s four victories between 1952 and 1958. He captured 12 or more wickets in a Test match which means he single-handedly won the matches for Pakistan.

In the third Test at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica in 1958 where Sir Garfield made the world record score of 365, Mahmood bowled 85.2 overs. He was unchanged throughout the innings of a Test match which is a world record for a pace bowler. Mahmood’s figures were: 85.2-20-247-2. (Wisden book of test cricket 1877-1977) Khan Mohammed’s figures were: 54-5-259-0. West Indies had made 790 for 3.

Further proof of his phenomenal ability and stamina can be checked from the chart of Khan Mohammed and Mehmood Hussain who bowled with him in the Test matches.

Both Khan Mohammed and Mehmood Hussain in 40 Tests have fewer wickets, 122 against Mahmood’s 139. And extraordinarily he has bowled 9870 balls to their combined 9066 balls. It requires a giant to do the job of two men.

The statistics for bowling analysis are as follows:


But surely Mahmood’s shinning hour was the Oval. Every blade emitting a faint fragrance which only the English grass can, a whiff enough to transform the thoroughbred into a snorter, desperate for action.

The field was set for the Armageddon, the duel between the best of England lions and the fledglings of the Test arena, Pakistan.

Victories have been won. Difficult matches have been extricated from the jaws of defeat. But the victory at the Oval is a victory above all victories. Everyone gave his best. They took on and defeated the might of England batting, perhaps the best since the war. This is what this victory meant. And all this owed to the main architect of this victory, the hero Mahmood, who with his brilliant 12-99 performed the miracle ever to be remembered. And in doing so he laid the foundations for the later successes of the Pakistan.

It is a pity digital technology was not available to record the intricate variations of line, length, swerve, cut delivered with such stunning accuracy. It would have been a visual lesson for posterity.

Mahmood, in his book “Dusk to Dawn”, has described some of the great deliveries and captured the magical moments of that fascinating Test match.

Alex Bannister said, “On matting Mahmood was often unplayable; on grass he could be equally devastating. To the casual observer he might have appeared harmless and just another bowler putting his arm over. But what a guile and consummate skill went into every ball.”

The prizing out of a frustrated Sir Len Hutton in both innings was for him the high point of the match (pp.44 & 45). His own description of planning executions and of exultation are worth reading (pp.44 & 45).

No less important was the dismissal of P.B.H. May from half a run up in the second innings. The finest number three England has produced, who conquered the furious attacks of the world described on (p.45). For England, the champion performer was the indomitable D.C.S. Compton, who managed a trice dropped brave 53 in the first innings. During this innings Mahmood discovered and exploited a patch on the wicket a great testimony to his deadly accuracy (“Prerequisites” p. 218).

It is no wonder that his 12-99 at the Oval was rated by an article in an English Newspapers in 2005 as the best ever seen on the ground.

Keith Miller has paid a great tribute to Mahmood in his letter dated: 26/10/98 in which he has rated Mahmood’s 13 for 114 against them at Karachi in 1956, as the best he has ever seen and “your performance was even better than J.M. Laker’s remarkable 19 wickets at the Old Trafford.”

Compton has also tremendous praise for him and says “Mahmood, simply unplayable in his day. My most difficult and memorable innings was at the Oval against him where I scored 53 in 1954.”

The incomparable Neil Harvey has also said, “Mahmood could make the ball talk on a matting wicket.”

But the tribute of all tributes was the great man himself Sir Alec Bedser as quoted, “If cricket was played as much in those days as now, Mahmood would have taken a thousand wickets.”

Mahmood had been selected for India’s Tour of Australia 1947-1948 but due to partition and his opting for Pakistan, he declined to go. The obituary of Mahmood in the London Times paid him the supreme compliment by saying that had Mahmood gone on that tour, Bradman would not have had the average that he did.

On Pakistan’s tour of England of 1962, Mahmood was taken to dinner by Sir Len Hutton during the Trent Bridge Test. Over coffee, Sir Hutton asked, “Mahmood, it has been eight years since the Oval Test in 1954. I have been thinking about what you did with the ball and I have not yet been able to understand. Would you tell me how you bowled that particular ball which got me out twice in the Oval Test?” Mahmood says “It was the greatest compliment I could have received as a player” (“Dusk to Dawn” p.95).

For Sir Len Hutton, the all time great opening batsman and the only Englishman to have held the world Test record of 364, to pay such a great tribute should be more than enough to place Mahmood at the top of the all-time ladder.

In my opinion, in an “All Time Great XI” – if the matches were played in England – the new ball would be shared by Mahmood and Wasim Akram.

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Fazal Mahmood still pines for India

If cricket were played as much in those days as now, Fazal would have taken a thousand wickets. — Former England bowler Sir Alec Bedser.

Of course, had Fazal Mahmood played today, he would have easily been one of cricket's more marketable icons. With green eyes, a towering personality, and the talent to make the ball do all but talk, Mahmood was the first bowling star for Pakistan, long before the likes of Sarfaraz Nawaz and Imran Khan appeared on the scene.

Mahmood has the rare honour of claiming a wicket off the fourth ball of his first over on 34 different occasions! "I would challenge the batsman before getting him out," says the erstwhile fast bowler with a proud smile. "People used to bet on it whenever I bowled. I would vary the angle of my inswingers by using the crease and then bowl an outswinger from the return crease." It sounds so simple when he narrates it.

The 78 year-old legend of Pakistan cricket has many famous scalps to his credit, among them greats like Sir Leonard Hutton, Neil Harvey, and Sir Garfield Sobers. In 34 Tests spanning a decade from 1952, he took a staggering 13 five-wicket hauls and four ten-wicket hauls, for a fantastic rate of a five-for every 2.6 Tests.

Mahmood retains fond memories of India, the country he had to leave behind after Partition. He reveals how in those tumultuous days he had gone to Pune for an Indian team camp preparatory to the 1947-48 tour of Australia under Lala Amarnath. It was only after a month there that he realised the danger to his life.

"I was informed about slaughter at the airport. I could not go to Delhi and Lahore. Another passenger, Om Prakash, gave me his ticket and that is how I could travel to Karachi.

"That incident changed my life," he says, his eyes moistening. "I decided to stay in Pakistan. I had a lot in India, emotionally and financially, but I had to reconcile myself and travel to Pakistan."

Mahmood has an interesting story to narrate in connection with his match-winning performance at the London Oval in 1954. More than 50 years ago, he had met Dilip Kumar on a local train in Mumbai. "We spoke about our future goals and decided to have a bet on who gets his first," he recalls. "After my 12 wicket haul in the Oval Test, Dilip sent me a telegram which read: 'You beat me'."

Naturally, Mahmood speaks of that Oval win with pride. England were on the verge of winning that Test chasing a paltry total in the last innings, but Mahmood picked 6-46 to help Pakistan to their maiden Test triumph in England.

Pakistan squared that series with a 24-run victory at the Oval. The following year, Mahmood was named one of Wisden's five Cricketers of the Year.

Though a frail old man now, Mahmood's strength in his youth was legendary. Once in the Caribbean he bowled 84.5 overs unchanged over a day and a half under a blazing Jamaican sun.

When he returned to Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he was studying advanced administration, a woman who had helped him with his thesis asked if she could touch him. Mahmood was startled. The woman then told him she had been at the stadium in Jamaica when he bowled that marathon spell. "I was wondering what metal you are made of," she remarked.

Mahmood credits his success to his father who used to place a coin in line with off stump and tell him to bowl on the coin if he wanted to pocket it.

He lists the late Indian opening batsman Vijay Merchant among his favourites and says current Indian quickie Irfan Pathan has the potential to be India's greatest fast bowler. In Mahmood's view, "India won in Multan because of the way he bowled."

Whenever the talk veers to India, Mahmood becomes nostalgic. The best period of his life, he says, was the time he spent in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. "I remember diving into the Dal Lake in Srinagar and trekking in Pahalgam," he says. "My father owned a houseboat called Egypt in the Dal.

"I want that back. Koi lauta de mere beetay huay din [Someone please give me back the days that have passed away]!"

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Was the main demolition man in one of the very first upsets in Test cricket (for those watching Pak vs Zim :D)

His heroics @ The Oval

Every club cricketer regularly perceives that cricket is an uncertain game: from time to time, too, that truth is demonstrated at the most exalted - Test - level. That was the case when Pakistan beat England in the Oval Test of 1954, the fourth and last of that year's series. Neither was it merely a nine days' wonder; no country had ever before won a Test in their first rubber in England and, in fact, they drew the series.
This was to be Fazal Mahmood's match. His action was not prepossessing; but he was strong, immensely fit, built like the policeman he was and, in many ways, was the ideal fast-medium bowler. His length was consistently accurate, he took punishment well, his stamina and determination were such that he never flagged and, given the opportunity of a breakthrough, he would persist untiringly. His stock in trade, like his pace, was similar to that of Alec Bedser; although originally a wrist-spinner, he developed sharp swing; but probably his keenest weapons were his cutters, which, particularly from leg, he bowled outstandingly and, in helpful circumstances, with deadly effect.

He comes from Lahore and had played effectively for Northern India. He was as immensely successful a bowler on matting as he later was on turf; and was unlucky not to tour England with Pataudi's side in 1946. He was, in fact, chosen to go with the 1947-48 Indian team to Australia, but Partition prevented him from making the tour. So he became one of the first few major `pure' Pakistani Test cricketers and, although he did not play his First Test until 1952 (against India), when he was 25, he went on to appear 34 times for his country and to take an impressive 139 wickets (an average of over four a match) at 24.70. He often hit hard and usefully in the lower part of the batting order and had a safe pair of hands: a cheerful, good-hearted cricketer.

There was, though, only time for him to bowl a single over before the close on that first evening; and a short but violent cloudburst in the morning washed away any possibility of play on Friday. When play was possible on Saturday - before the second-largest post-war crowd at The Oval - Fazal Mahmood and Mahmood Hussain could barely believe their luck; unused to such conditions in their own country, they had only to bowl a length and the pitch did the rest; one or two balls an over rose disturbingly; the batsman's skill often lay in leaving rather than in playing.

Very early, Mahmood Hussain found the edge of Reg Simpson's bat, for a catch to slip; meanwhile Fazal drove into his long stint; he bowled throughout the innings - 30 overs. Mahmood Hussain got through 21; he was twice briefly spelled by Zulfiqar and Shuja; but the pitch was not yet ready for spin. At 26 Hutton was taken at the wicket ( Imtiaz) off Fazal, who then addressed himself to what promised to be - and proved - England's main resistance; the partnership between Denis Compton and Peter May.

Fazal had poor luck; at least three close catches went down; but, typically, he showed neither irritation nor disappointment, but simply seemed eager to bowl the next ball. The pair put on 30 before he had May caught at slip, Tom Graveney went almost as soon as he came; so did Evans; and Pakistan went through to the tail at one end. At the other Compton, in one of his bravest Test innings, often by ingenious improvisation, contrived 53 out of England's eventual 130. Otherwise, Jim McConnon (11) was only the fourth England batsman to reach double figures.

Fazal's 6 for 53 was magnificent; but the figures might have been even better if the catching had been sharper; Mahmood Hussain bore him good company with 4 for 58; and jubilantly Pakistan marked their seventh Independence Day by taking a lead of three on the first innings. There were, too, many and vocal Pakistanis present in a rare but happily bi-partisan crowd for The Oval to hail the achievement.
Now Fazal seized the opportunity he had himself created by taking the wickets of Wardle and Tyson. McConnon was run out, Loader caught off Mahmood Hussian, and the junior Test-playing country had achieved the unexpected. Fazal this time had 6 for 46: in all, 12 for 99; but so many had contributed to their triumph that the euphoria was shared, not least by those supporters of the winning side who managed to turn up for the winning moment. It would have been a mean Englishman who did not grant Kardar's young men credit for creating their piece of cricket history.


Scorecard :


:fazal @ The Oval

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Also, Pakistan won its first Test match in its first tour away.
It was in 1952, Lucknow, India, where again Fazal Mahmood was the county's main weapon (figures of 12/94)


India won its first Test in Pakistan some 50 years later, in 2004 @ Multan.

In fact, it's thanks to his spell @ Lord's against the MCC that Pakistan earned its Test status, in 1952.
Also, in 1956 - two years after his Oval exploits - he recorded his career best figures (13/114) to help Pakistan beat (by 9 wickets in the tour's solitary Test @ Karachi) a visiting Australian side which perhaps fielded one of its best bowling attack ever (Lindwall, Miller, Davidson and Benaud!)
The scorecard :


(To again have an idea of his stamina, take a look at the numbers of overs he bowled.)

And the report, of course, mentions his name in the title

The unplayable Mahmood

At Karachi, October 11, 12, 13, 15, 17. Pakistan won by nine wickets. By this emphatic success the youngest member of the Imperial Cricket Conference confirmed the excellent impression formed two years previously when they defeated England at The Oval. Perhaps the Australians, travel weary, suffered some reaction as the result of their strenuous tour of England, and the immediate change from grass to matting without any prolonged practice in the altered conditions could not have been easy for them. Nevertheless, Pakistan established control of the match from the early overs and they seldom looked like letting the initiative slip away.

As at The Oval, the central figure in their victory was Fazal Mahmood, the medium-paced bowler. He took thirteen wickets for 114 and was never mastered. Fazal, maintaining an accurate length and varying his swing with a mixture of leg-cutters and breakbacks, began Australia's troubles by taking the first six wickets for 26 in sixteen overs. Khan Mohammad, the only other bowler used, was responsible for the remaining wickets, and Australia were all out shortly after tea. Pakistan lost five wickets cheaply before Kardar, using bolder methods,and Wazir Mohammad came together in a partnership which produced 104. Although the tail collapsed--Lindwall completing 200 wickets in Test cricket--Pakistan gained a lead of 119.

Australia batting again, did little better against the same combination of Fazal and Khan, though Benaud and Archer shared a sixth wicket stand of 64. Curiously, Pakistan made heavy weather of getting the 69 runs needed to win, much to the displeasure of the crowd. They were still six short at the end of two hours forty minutes' batting crawl and as the following day was one of mourning, on the anniversary of the death of Liaquat Ali Khan, first Prime Minister of Pakistan, the victory celebrations had to be delayed until the fifth morning of the match.

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We also had a good captain then, Kardar, he managed to gel the team and just make them perform as a unit, this was shown in the eventual results.
We also had a good captain then, Kardar, he managed to gel the team and just make them perform as a unit, this was shown in the eventual results.

Yes, AH Kardar was not only an intelligent man, but an inspiring "ideological" too : he subscribed to the Pakistan Movement (even if, ironically, his cousin, movie director Abdur Rashid Kardar, who made Lahore/Punjab's first silent movie and worked with the likes of Raj Kapoor, remained - and died - in India) and wanted to take the new team to new heights... I think there's was the whole "to make a point" dimension in the XI, even if, minus Fazal Mahmood and Hanif Mohammad, the rest were probably not that talented, the positive results of the team's inceptive years had to do with all of that "ideological" aspect.
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Yes, AH Kardar was not only an intelligent man, but an "ideological" too : he subscribed to the Pakistan Movement (even if, ironically, his cousin, movie director Abdur Rashid Kardar, who made Lahore/Punjab's first silent movie, remained - and died - in India) and wanted to take the new team to new heights... I think there's was the whole "to make a point" dimension in the XI, even if, minus Fazal Mahmood and Hanif Mohammad, the rest were probably not that talented, the positive results of the team's inceptive years had to do with all of that "ideological" aspect.

Yep those 3 figures should have much more respect and stature in Pakistani cricketing echelons, without them, there may have been no Pakistan cricket team, as a minnow, we would've been discarded quite quickly, had it not been for our remarkable victories, that Oval test win, has to be the most poignantly pertinent victory even in Pakistani cricket.
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Just wanted to know why Mahmood didn't get as many wickets in his last 10-12 tests?
Was expecting a more positive response to this thread, perhaps this exemplifies the kind of underrating he had gone through his whole life, to the extent the PCB didn't even recognise any of his acheivements.

He is so underrated that no-one even bothered to comment on my thread having the complete story of his life :( I Was also expecting very serious response for this legend..
He is so underrated that no-one even bothered to comment on my thread having the complete story of his life :( I Was also expecting very serious response for this legend..

More people are posting on Misbah and Hafeez threads :facepalm, anyway, only IK could challenge him for looks.
Bump for people who haven't seen this thread, I rate him higher than IK to have had an effect on Pakistani cricket, he was the so called founding father of Pakistani cricket, vaguely similar to Adam Smith and his overaching impact on economics.
85 overs unchanged :O

I read somewhere that after Pakistan he was given a choice either to play for India or Pakistan.Unfortunately for us,he chose Pak

a true legend :bow:
85 overs unchanged :O

I read somewhere that after Pakistan he was given a choice either to play for India or Pakistan.Unfortunately for us,he chose Pak

a true legend :bow:

He did not bowl the 85 overs unchanged. He (and Khan Mohammad) have sometimes bowled unchanged for 40 odd overs each. Fazal could possibly have done that here as well, but definitely not 50 overs or above in a spell.
Fazal Mahmood, the first great fast bowler from Pakistan, was a man of myriad hues. On the field, he tormented the best of batsmen of his generation with his deadly leg-cutters and nagging accuracy; off the field, he was the veritable debonair, the poster boy of Brylcreem, known for his amicable demeanour and razor-sharp wisecracks. He was the first superstar of Pakistan cricket and was instrumental in Pakistan’s phenomenal success in 1950s, their first decade of international cricket. Mahmood was the chief architect of Pakistan’s first Test victories over India, England, Australia and West Indies.

Fazal started his first-class career at the age of 17, representing Northern India. His first first-class match was against the Southern Punjab. His talents soon earned him laurels and he was considered for the India’s tour to England in 1946-47. Fazal was selected in Indian squad to tour Australia in 1947-48, but he declined the offer keeping in mind the imminent origin of Pakistan.

Fazal sliced through the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) side touring Pakistan in 1951-52, taking six wickets in the first innings of the third unofficial Test at Karachi. Pakistan won the match by four wickets. It was this victory against the MCC side was instrumental in Pakistan getting Test status.

When Pakistan visited India in 1952-53 for their first-ever Test series, they were thrashed by an innings and 70 runs in the first Test at Delhi. But, Fazal displayed his genius in the second Test and snaffled 12 scalps for 94 runs as Pakistan romped home by an innings and 43 runs, their first Test victory ever.

Fazal’s finest hour came against England in the fourth and final Test of the series at the Oval in 1954-55. Rain saved Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s and third Test at Manchester, Old Trafford, but were routed in the second Test at Nottingham, Trent Bridge by an innings and 129 runs. The English press was derisive of Pakistan’s performance. The tide turned in Pakistan’s favour at The Oval. After being dismissed for 133 in their first innings, Pakistan skittled England out for 130 runs. Fazal snared six wickets for 53 runs, including the prized wickets of Len Hutton and Denis Compton, who thumped 278 against them in the second Test. In their second innings, Pakistan were 82 for eight at one stage, but Wazir Mohammad and Zulfiqar Ahmed added 58 runs for the ninth wicket as Pakistan finished with 164 runs.

England was coasting at one stage -109 for two, chasing 168 runs. But Peter May’s dismissal triggered a stunning collapse. Fazal made the most of the conducive atmosphere and wreaked havoc. England were bowled out for 143 runs and Pakistan won by 24 runs. Fazal ended up with match-figures of 12 for 99. The next day, a famous English daily gave the headline, ‘England Fazalled out’.

Imtiaz Ahmed, Pakistan’s wicket-keeper in the Oval Test, rates his catch of Hutton in the second innings off Fazal as the best catch he had taken. He said, it was a challenge to keep wickets against Fazal as he would move the ball at devilish proportions. Hutton said he could never understand in his life what Fazal did that day. Fazal’s sparkling performance in the English Summer earned him the honour of first Pakistani cricketer to be selected among the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1955. In 16 first-class matches he played during the 1954-55 English Summer, he snapped up 77 wickets at the bowling average of 17.53, and his 20 Test wickets in four Test matches were more than double the next best for Pakistan.

‘Alec Bedser of Pakistan’

He was christened by the English media as ‘The Alec Bedser of Pakistan’ as he bore striking resemblance with the great England fast bowlers in terms of bowling style and finesse. Both were the finest exponents of leg-cutter, and were equipped with the unflagging stamina to bowl long spells. It was believed that their leg-cutters spun more than the leg-spin of the tweakers. The great Australian leg-spinner, Richie Benaud, once said, Fazal’s leg-cutters spun more than his leg-spinners.

When Australia visited Pakistan for the one-off Test in 1956-57, Pakistan pummelled them by nine wickets at National Stadium, Karachi. It was the first encounter in Test matches between Pakistan and Australia, and Fazal made it memorable one for Pakistan by his scintillating show. He captured the match figures of 13-114 demolishing Australia for 80 and 187 runs respectively in their first and second innings. The great Australian all-rounder, Keith Miller, said that this was the best bowling performance he had ever witnessed in Test matches and rated his heroics over Jim Laker’s 19-wicket exploits at Old Trafford in 1956, while Neil Harvey claimed that Fazal makes the ball talk on a matting wicket. Wisden said, “In the Test match, Fazal was absolutely unplayable.”

Fazal also orchestrated Pakistan’s first triumphant in Test matches over West Indies. Having lost the three Test matches out of first four on the Caribbean tour of 1957-58, Pakistan cricket’s reputation seemed to be tumbling, but in the fifth and final Test of the series at Port-of-Spain, Fazal ‘spun’ his magic once again and bamboozled the West Indian batsmen with his subtle variations in his pace and length. He picked up six wickets in West Indies’ first innings and added two more in the second innings, as Pakistan stormed to the victory by an innings and one run.

Next year, when West Indies visited Pakistan, Fazal was made captain for the first time. He celebrated the occasion with aplomb and ran through the West Indies side in the first and second Test matches played at Karachi and Dacca respectively. He racked up seven wickets in the first Test, ripping out Sir Garry Sobers in both the innings. Pakistan cantered home by 10 wickets. In the next Test, he went a notch higher, and knocked out 12 West Indian batsmen for 100 runs. Pakistan scooped another victory by 41 runs. West Indies won the third Test, but Pakistan had already captured the series. Fazal notched up 21 wickets in three-Test series at an astonishing average of 15.85.

From October 1952 to March 1959, Fazal devoured 125 scalps in 26 Test matches at 22.54 each. However, after 1959, his career began to nosedive. He was stripped of captaincy after the stodgy five-Test series against India in 1960-61 which ended in a draw as neither of the both teams managed to win any Test match of the series.

The work-load of being the spearhead of the bowling attack of his team for almost a decade began to take its toll on Fazal’s bowling. He lost the zip and sting due to excessive bowling over a long period of time. He was initially not picked up in the Pakistan’s squad for the tour of England in 1961-62 but was recalled between the series after Mahmood Hussain and Mohammad Farooq were injured. He was past his prime by then, and unfortunately, could not conjure up the magic which he did in 1953-54. Pakistan was hauled 4-0 in five-Test series. That ended Fazal’s career.

Fazal’s greatness beyond cold stats

Fazal grabbed 139 wickets in 34 Test matches at an average of 24.70 with 13 five-wicket hauls and four ten-wicket hauls. He holds the distinction of being the first Pakistani bowler to capture 100 Test wickets, a feat he attained in his 22nd Test. His careers statistics are eminently impressive, but his greatness cannot be captured by just statistics. What adds glitter and glory to Fazal’s statistics is the fact that he was the first match-winner from Pakistan and he won a string of Test matches for Pakistan, often single-handedly, when they were striving to carve out a niche for themselves in the international cricket. Unlike India, their neighbour and arch-rival, it didn’t take too long for Pakistan to attain their first Test. Within first few years since they played their first Test match, they beat all the major Test playing nations like England, Australia and West Indies in addition to their triumphant over India and New Zealand. And Fazal shone radiantly in all those famed and illustrious victories which have, now, become the part of Pakistan’s cricket folklores.

Also, he inspired the generations of youngsters in Pakistan to take up fast bowling. He was the first great fast bowler to come out of Pakistan and became a cult figure. Fast bowling was seen as a way to fame. No wonder, Pakistan produced some of the greatest fast bowlers in the Test history, from Imran Khan to Waqar Younis, in the years to come following his foot-steps. Shoaib Akhtar, rightly, described him as the doyen and torch-bearer of fast bowling in Pakistan.

Fazal was also a traffic policeman and later in his life became a Deputy Superintendent and Deputy Inspector General in 1976. The discipline and determination of a policeman was evident in his bowling. He wasn’t an express pace bowler, like Frank Tyson and Roy Gilchrist; instead, he relied on unwavering accuracy, and lethal swing and seam, pegging away to bowl avalanche of overs, in his heyday, without the flicker of fatigue.

He was a genial and affable man in the personal life, and never missed an opportunity to demonstrate his ripping sense of humour. When, once, asked about Karachi’s traffic, he responded, “Managing Karachi’s traffic is like trying to bowl out Len Hutton without any stump in the ground.”

Had he been alive, he would have celebrated his 85th birthday today. Fazal left for the heavenly abode on May 30, 2005, but his glorious career continues to exhort the youngsters of Pakistan, and the rich legacy of fast bowling he left, is carried, now, by the Umar Gul and Co. with unmistakable pride and honour.


Other than Cricket:

Fazal Mahmood left college with a Master’s degree in Economics and joined the Pakistan Police Service as an Inspector in September 1947. In 1976, he was promoted to Deputy Inspector General of Police. He also authored a well-documented manual entitles ‘Speed with Safety’ to streamline and update the road traffic system in Pakistan. He also wrote two books on religion entitled ‘Urge to Faith’ and ‘talash-i-haq’. He also wrote a book on cricket called ‘Fazal Mahmood and Cricket’ (1955).

My first thread that is now featured on facebook.
Unlike India, WI and NZ, Pakistan started winning tests straight after their inception into test cricket.

Mahmood played a huge part in that initial success.
Unlike India, WI and NZ, Pakistan started winning tests straight after their inception into test cricket.

Mahmood played a huge part in that initial success.

Did you watched him play? :O
Did you watched him play? :O

Harsh he is only a few years older than my dad, late 40s.

Anyway, without doubt, I believe that Fazal, although not our greatest cricketer but most certainly was the one that ignited and riled a conflagration of sucess through Pakistani cricket; it is supposedly debatable that Imran had the more substantial effect, but I assert he only revived the contemporaneous light of Pakistan when it had mellowed to a more mild but recalcitrant level.
Harsh he is only a few years older than my dad, late 40s.

Did that sound harsh? I misinterpreted that post, my mistake. Who are you referring to when you said late 40's?

I'm not that old. My Dad might have seen Mahmood.

Apologies for if I offended you :(, I just thought as you have high amounts of knowledge of previous old cricketers, you might have watched him.

Apologies again :( ;-)
Did that sound harsh? I misinterpreted that post, my mistake. Who are you referring to when you said late 40's?

Apologies for if I offended you :(, I just thought as you have high amounts of knowledge of previous old cricketers, you might have watched him.

Apologies again :( ;-)

Robert I was refering to, as he said in a different thread that he was doing his finals in unis in 86/7.
Think this thread deserves the recognition of more posters on this forum.
Because of Fazal Pak cricket is completely different /will probably remain different from all other cricket brands in region.
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Fazal Mahmood is a legend. Make no mistakes about it. He is the sole reason why Pakistan is the only team in cricket history which was able to compete in Tests competitively immediately after being given Test status.

However, it is wrong to name him as the inspiration for our modern fast bowlers. There is about a twenty year gap between Fazal and the emergence of Imran. Between that period, we had no notable fast bowler. No, the inspiration of our bowlers is Imran Khan. Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib etc have all named him as their inspiration. And who was Imran's inspiration? No other than the great Dennis Lillee.
Some good articles on a true legend (thank you for uploading them). Introduced real fast bowling to Pakistan and defined our culture.
QUOTE=AFM;6336282]No, Imran did. See my previous post.[/QUOTE]

I am not doubting that, Imran is the architect of fast bowling in Pakistan. What I meant was Fazal summed our culture of fast bowling up even when we were not known as a cricketing nation.
I wish I got to see him bowl live . If our new fast bowlers could learn discipline from , be liked , glamorous while remaining a respectable figure . A true role model .

Found this from NFP`s article


Lahore-born Fazal Mahmood had already cemented his reputation as a match-winning swing bowler (and Pakistan cricket’s first ‘sex symbol’), when he took over from Kardar as captain of Pakistan.

Though his performance as a bowler was enough to guarantee the respect of his team-mates, Fazal’s stint as captain was continuously compared (by the press) with that of Kardar’s.

In fact, soon after Kardar had announced his retirement, the then President of Pakistan, Iskander Mirza, had tried to persuade Kardar to stay on as captain. (7)

Kardar politely refused and Mahmood was made Pakistan’s second cricket captain at the age of 31.

Flamboyant, charismatic and extremely popular, Fazal had been leading the team’s pace attack and had almost single-handedly won Pakistan a number of Tests.


In his first series as skipper, Fazal’s side defeated visiting WI side 2-1.


But discontent against his captaincy began to rise when Pakistan went down 2-0 against the visiting Australians in 1959 and the team then settled for a drab 0-0 draw in the 5-Test series against India in 1961.

The press believed that the burden of captaincy was contributing to Fazal’s weak performances as a bowler and that the team needed a more aggressive captain. In other words, what the pundits meant was that the team needed another Kardar.

Then in early 1961 the cricket board suddenly sacked Fazal as captain.

Sections of the Pakistani press alleged that some players in the side had accused Fazal of exhibiting nepotism and favouritism in selection matters.

Angered by the board’s decision, Fazal retired from cricket when he was not selected in the Pakistan team that toured England in 1962.

Pakistani cricket fans were expecting the team’s leading batsman, Hanif Muhammad, to be given the reigns of the captaincy.

But the cricket board, still searching for another Kardar, pulled off a surprise by naming the then 24-year-old middle-order batsman, Javed Burki (8), as the team’s new captain.

Burki was a highly talented middle-order stroke maker from Lahore who had graduated in 1960 from England’s Oxford University. He had played only a handful of Tests before he was asked to lead the side during Pakistan’s 1962 tour of England.

The tour was a disaster. Burki was in-charge of a squad that had broken up into two camps, one siding with the sulking Hanif and the other supporting the young Burki.

After Pakistan’s pace attack on the tour broke down due to injuries, the board requested Fazal Mehmood to come out of retirement. He agreed and was sent to England. The decision to send Fazal was taken without consulting Burki.

Fazal’s presence in England was not appreciated at all by Burki and his supporters in the team. (9)

They feared that Fazal would conspire with Hanif and try to reclaim the captaincy from the young (and struggling) Burki.

Though Burki used him to deliver 63 overs in the fifth and final Test, both were hardly on talking terms. Burki kept alluding that Fazal was sent by the board to topple him.

Nothing of the sort happened. Pakistan lost the series 4-0 and Fazal retired once again in 1962 at the age of 35.

Fazal became a cricket commentator in the late 1970s and his friendly and witty duals with former Indian batsman, Lala Amarnath, during the 1978 Pakistan-India series became extremely popular with TV viewers.

Fazal’s tenure as commentator, however, was short-lived as he insisted on coining his own words for various cricketing terms. It is believed that it was Fazal who coined the Urdu word ‘ranzain’ (runs).

For example, during the Lahore Test in the 1978 series, this is how he went on to describe a ball (and its aftermath) by Pakistani pace bowler, Imran Khan: ‘Imran bhaagtey hooay aye, gaindh karai, tapa ball (bouncer), Vishvanath ka sar kay ooper wala shot (hook?), fieldbaaz (fielder) gaindh kay peechay, par chaar runzein (four runs). (10)


Though not a religious man during his cricketing career, Fazal joined the Islamic evangelical organisation, the Tableeghi Jamat, in the late 1980s.

He passed away in 2005 at the age of 77.

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QUOTE=AFM;6336282]No, Imran did. See my previous post.

I am not doubting that, Imran is the architect of fast bowling in Pakistan. What I meant was Fazal summed our culture of fast bowling up even when we were not known as a cricketing nation.

I beg to disagree. Fazal was no better than medium pace. No writings on him say that he was fast. There are hardly any videos of him on the net but the contemporary that he is usually compared to is Alec Bedser and he bowled was anything but fast. Fazal may have had the pace of the latter day Shaun Pollock, that's about it. It was the inward movement in the air and leg cutter off the wicket that made him great. Khan Mohammad was faster than Fazal but no tearaway.

While talking about real fast bowlers in the subcontinent, we have to jump straight from Nissar to Imran.
Excellent thread keep it going !

We should honour our legends, it's sad to see what happens to our ex players these days. These legends should be the rolmodel for the current generation as well.

And also we should have at least name a Cricket ground to Fazal Mahmood, still can't believe the Gadafi Stadium joke!
Unlike India, WI and NZ, Pakistan started winning tests straight after their inception into test cricket.

Mahmood played a huge part in that initial success.

Mahmood and H. Muhammad were big part in our early success in test cricket. We and Aussies are the only teams to not lose test series in our first tour of England.
Fazal Mahmood- the legend appreciation thread

Can anyone tell me is he the father of Azhar Mahmood?
Unlike India, WI and NZ, Pakistan started winning tests straight after their inception into test cricket.

Mahmood played a huge part in that initial success.

It is certainly true that for a new cricket nation, Pakistan in the 1950s achieved relative success. There were many reasons for this. Pakistan cricket did not start completely anew and inherited (an albeit scanty) cricket infrastructure; there was competitive college system; patronage was forthcoming from some key influential figures; for AH Kardar cricket was seen as part of nation-building exercise and an expression of Pakistani identity; there were matting pitches, particularly suited to Fazal's style of bowling; families and informal networks of connection provided a stabilising influence; and whilst Pakistan was born amidst great difficulties, there was a spirit of striving and idealism.

But the single most important factor was Fazal Mahmood. A match-winning bowler with incredible stamina, the driving force behind most of Pakistan's early victories.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OnThisDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OnThisDay</a> 1927. The birth of Pakistan's first world-class quick bowler, Fazal Mahmood. His greatest performance came at The Oval in 1954, when he took 6 for 53 and 6 for 46 in Pakistan's first win over England <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cricket?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cricket</a> <a href="https://t.co/qyOtUkcWL7">pic.twitter.com/qyOtUkcWL7</a></p>— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) <a href="https://twitter.com/Saj_PakPassion/status/965147767294316544?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 18, 2018</a></blockquote>
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WHEN Fazal Mahmood, The Oval hero, died unexpectedly at the age of 78 on May 30, 2005 at Lahore, and a glorious chapter of Pakistan’s early cricket came to an end. Fazal, who stood at 6 feet with blue eyes, was the handsomest sportsman ever to adorn a sports field anywhere in the world.

His neatly combed hair with Brylcreem were always in place and a curled lock of hair loosely hung over his forehead which he would often blow. The first two fingers of his celebrated right hand had noticeable yellow stains of nicotine from chain smoking which he gave up in later years. Remembering the great Fazal on his sixteenth death anniversary brings back unforgettable memories. He was the first inspirational sporting leader and an icon of Pakistan who was able to lift the spirit of his nation soon after the tragic and bloody events of the partition of 1947. His contributions that led to the early victories in the Lucknow and Oval Tests brought instant recognition to Pakistan the world over.

Fazal was the earliest trendsetter for the youth, who would smartly dress with an expensive navy blue double breasted serge blazer with shiny brass buttons priced at Pounds 20 of his favourite brand Daks of London, when other such coats in those days would cost Pounds five only.

Matched with steel grey worsted trousers and brown crepe soled suede shoes, he was a sight to behold as he stood with his legs apart wearing dark glasses.

He was charismatic, unassuming and patriotic who played only for the glory of Pakistan. His handsomeness brought him offers from movies. Film director Mehboob Khan of India offered him Premnath’s role in ‘Aan’ in 1952. Then in 1955 George Cukor of Hollywood was so overawed by Fazal’s personality that he said he should have considered him for Stewart Granger’s role in Bhowani Junction. He was cast in a Pakistani film by director Ashfaq Malik but withdrew after appearing on the sets in a Mughal costume for a couple of days.

Fazal, who played a major role in gaining Test status for Pakistan cricket in 1951-52, was the first bowler of his country to take 100 wickets in Tests. He was also the first Pakistani to be chosen by Wisden among the five best cricketers of 1955. India had already chosen him as one of the five best cricketers of 1953. Fazal was also the first cricketer to receive the President’s Medal for Pride of Performance in 1959.

John Woodcock, John Arlott and Geoff Armstrong placed him among the 100 best cricketers of All Time in their publications. Selflessly, without any personal gain, he brought laurels for Pakistan for which we owe him a debt of gratitude. His impeccable fast medium bowling performances of 12 or more wickets in a Test against India 1952 (Lucknow), England 1954, Australia 1956 (Karachi) and West Indies 1959 (Dhaka) are a part of cricket lore. His unparalleled services and feats in cricket are unforgettable.

He was incorruptible in sport and in his profession in police. He was a symbol of dignity, integrity, honesty, humility, compassion and contentment. He lived frugally and was neither greedy nor envious of anyone. He believed strongly that given a chance Pakistan was capable of performing miracles in any field. His favourite brown shoes were made of crocodile skin which he had shot during his posting at Bahawalpur. Despite many repair stitches he wore them comfortably till his last days.

Since Fazal has not been included unjustly and ignorantly in the hall of fame in Pakistan, a supportive debate is going on for his inclusion. Knowing him, he would have declined his entry in any hall of fame if it were to come through debates and recommendations. On such a blatant oversight he would have simply recited his favourite couplet “Woh teray naseeb ki baarishain kisi aur chhat pe baras gaen, Dil-e-bekhabar meri baat sun, ussay bhool ja, ussay bhool ja.”

To honour the great bowler I had proposed a postage stamp of Fazal Mahmood in 2005 which was enthusiastically supported by PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan, but sadly, so far no such postage stamp has come out. It’s about time to honour the great man. Nations who do not remember their heroes seldom find the right direction.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2021
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OnThisDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OnThisDay</a> in 1954. Pakistan were only 8 Tests old when they won their first match in England. Fazal Mahmood took 12 wickets in the 24-run win at The Oval and wicketkeeper Imtiaz Ahmed took seven catches in the match, all off Fazal’s bowling <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cricket?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cricket</a> <a href="https://t.co/mUgG7eZDP1">pic.twitter.com/mUgG7eZDP1</a></p>— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) <a href="https://twitter.com/Saj_PakPassion/status/1427527651787517956?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 17, 2021</a></blockquote>
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On this day in 1927, Fazal Mahmood, Pakistan's first great fast bowler was born.

The right-arm pacer featured in 34 Test matches, taking 139 wickets. In 112 first-class matches, he took 466 wickets.