Mohammad Nissar, first pacer from the subcontinent


Senior ODI Player
Mar 4, 2013
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25 Wickets in 6 Test matches including three 5fer's against England, one of his 5fer is in Lord's and one in The Oval. 396 FC wickets with an average of less thn 18

Shaikh Mohammad Nissar About this sound pronunciation(born 1 August 1910, death 11 March 1963) was a cricketer, who played as a fast bowler for the pre-partition Indian cricket team and domestic teams in India and Pakistan. He was born in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, and is considered the fastest pre-partition Indian pace bowler. He was arguably one of the fastest bowlers in the world during his time.

Indian batsman C.K. Nayudu claimed in writings that during his first spell, Nissar was faster than Englishman Harold Larwood, who terrorized Australia in 1932 in the infamous Bodyline series.

Nissar along with Amar Singh formed an Indian fast bowling duo that was considered one of the best in the world during the 1930s.

Outside of cricket he was a tribal leader of a large Pushtun tribe and also a pro-Pakistan leader. His memoirs are being compiled and include letters from Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and Gandhi. He was one of the founders of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and considered to be the first Pakistani cricketer.

He migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and died in Lahore in 1963.


Mohammed Nissar was drafted into the Indian team which toured England in 1932. He was a part of the side which contained players like CK Nayudu, the brothers Wazir Ali and Nazir Ali, and of course, his famous bowling partner, Amar Singh. Even today, Nissar's main claim to fame was of being the first man to take a wicket for India, and for being the fastest pre-war bowler India have produced. Nissar's career kick-started right in his first match, as he, in the first ball of his second over, dismissed Herbert Sutcliffe for 3, knocking over Sutcliffe's stumps. Then, with the fifth ball of the very same over, he bowled the other opener, Percy Holmes.

What made this fact extraordinary was that Holmes and Sutcliffe were involved in an opening stand of 555 for Yorkshire just ten days ago. In the course of his 26-over spell, Nissar scalped five wickets for 93 runs, as England were skittled for 259, a below-par score for a team that had looked much stronger on paper. In the second innings, Nissar bowled 18 overs and took a wicket, of Walter Robins, who was a victim of his in the first innings as well, for 42 runs. Overall, with a strike rate of 44, and with match figures of 6 for 135, Nissar gave a glimpse of other performances England should have watched out for when he played them.

That was to be the only test match for India that year, but there were many other first-class matches on the tour, where Nissar grabbed 71 wickets at an average of 18.09. In the winter of 1935, when Jack Ryder's Australian XI toured India to play against Maharaja "Vizzy" Vizianagaram's Indian team. He made a mark there too, grabbing 32 wickets in 4 unofficial tests and 12 in 3 tests.

Nissar's last test was against England in August 1936, at The Oval, where he managed to take six wickets, including a five wicket haul, even though India lost the match.
The reason why we have such a legacy of fast bowlers.
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What a don, dont think Bradman would've averaged 100 against him.
Amarnath and Nissar together were a gun bowling pair.Comparable to any in those days.They were like Wasim and Waqar of those days.
Amarnath and Nissar together were a gun bowling pair.Comparable to any in those days.They were like Wasim and Waqar of those days.

Nisar looks the better bowler considering stats

Amarnath 45 wckets in 24 matches

Dont think a guy with 45 wickets in 24 matches can be compared to Wasim and Waqar

Nissar 25 wickets in just 6 matches

Nissar unlucky not to have played more tests :(
I've heard that one of :ik's relative (great uncle ?) was the fastest pre Partition bowler... perhaps a generation before Nissar ? Will try to find out his name.

Amarnath and Nissar together were a gun bowling pair.Comparable to any in those days.They were like Wasim and Waqar of those days.

Amarnath or Amar Singh ?
I've heard that one of :ik's relative (great uncle ?) was the fastest pre Partition bowler... perhaps a generation before Nissar ? Will try to find out his name.

Amarnath or Amar Singh ?

Jehangir Khan was IK's uncle, his stats are not that great

Amar singh was better bowler than amarnath he averaged 30 with ball,
I've heard that one of :ik's relative (great uncle ?) was the fastest pre Partition bowler... perhaps a generation before Nissar ? Will try to find out his name.

Amarnath or Amar Singh ?

Amar Singh.Sorry.
Nisar looks the better bowler considering stats

Amarnath 45 wckets in 24 matches

Dont think a guy with 45 wickets in 24 matches can be compared to Wasim and Waqar

Nissar 25 wickets in just 6 matches

Nissar unlucky not to have played more tests :(

AmarSingh sorry not Amarnath.

Len Hutton said that Amar Singh was the best bowler he faced.Wally Hammond said that Amar Singh's balls were like a crack of doom.

By talents Nissar and Amar Singh were as good as anyone of those days.
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At the inaugural Test at Lord’s in 1932, Nissar, through his terrifying pace, sent back Holmes and Sutcliffe for 3 and 6 runs respectively. Later in the same innings, Nissar dismissed Ames, Robins and Brown and ended up taking five wickets for 93 runs. This gave him the distinction and the honour of being the bowler to take the first Test wicket and be the first bowler to take 5 wickets in an innings for undivided India.

Lala Amarnath

Lala Amarnath stated that he could never forget that great cricketer who had done him a good turn in 1933-34. Young Amarnath had come to Bombay for the all-India trials and had miserably failed in the first trial when he was sent to open the innings. Nissar, who had realized that Amarnath had not been given a fair trial because his usual position was number three, took it on himself to approach the selectors on his behalf. On Nissar’s recommendations, Amarnath was given another chance, and he scored 49 and 79 not out to be eventually selected. “Had he not helped me that day, perhaps I would not have played for India at all”.

Maharajkumar of Vizianagram

Vizzy said: “Lindwall of Australia was always looked upon as the gentleman fast bowler and so was Mohammad Nissar, who never believed in intimidating a batsman by sending down bumpers or the present day beamers. He got the batsman out fair and square. That was the charm of his greatness”.

Dr Dilawar Hussain

Dr Dilawar stated: “He was the greatest bowler of his times. In fact he was on top of the world for 10 years. He was a lion-hearted bowler and no day was too long for him. As a sportsman, he had no equal. He was a great sportsman and a great gentleman on and off the field. A clean cricketer, he always believed in hitting the stumps and never bowled at the batsman to whom he could be of real danger with his terrific speed. He was man of great charm and humour”.

Dr. Jahangir Khan

Dr. Jahangir stated: “Nissar was a magnificent bowler and a great sportsman, who was an asset to any team of his time. A great slip fielder who could bring off surprising catches in spite of his weight. I have not seen a faster bowler than him in this sub-continent”.

Mian Mohammed Saeed

Mian Mohammad Saeed stated: “I have had the privilege of playing a lot of cricket with him and he was a childhood friend. Not only have I seen and played with him at his best when he was in a class by himself, but the late Maharaja of Patiala told me once that in spite of what people say about Minnon and Ramjee, Nissar was the only and the greatest fast bowler ever produced by the subcontinent. I have also heard Plunwarmer say that in 1932 Nissar was quicker in the air than Harold Larwood”.

Vijay Merchant

Vijay Merchant stated: “What a great fast bowler he was! He was the best and the fastest I have ever played against. In my time I played against Larwood, Voce, Bowes, Allen and Gover. The first two were past their best when I played them and the other three did not come up to the standard of Nissar. I have not seen a more accurate fast bowler than Nissar and he could bowl on the proverbial six-penny piece. He moved the ball just enough to beat the centre of the bat and he did not have to resort to bumpers to get his wickets. On the contrary, he would refuse to intimidate the batsman because he maintained that his target was the stump and not the man. In 1939, when the late Wazir Ali asked him to bowl bumpers against the Hindu batsman in the Pentangular final, he refused to do so although that probably went against the interests of his side."

Jaoomal Naoomal

J. Naoomal stated: “He always believed in hitting the stumps and beating the batsman through sheer speed off the pitch and never intimidated the batsman. With the new ball, he was equally fast as Harold Larwood of England.”
Amarnath and Nissar together were a gun bowling pair.Comparable to any in those days.They were like Wasim and Waqar of those days.

The videos are a little surprising. Nissar is what we imagine him to be. Big man, coming off a very long run run up.

But Amar Singh had a five-step run up. About the length of Anil Kumble's. But the wicket keeper is shown to be standing a long way back.
This article was posted in the Old PP some ten years back, was cross posted in another forum at the time and I am cross posting back now :

The Friday Times, Pakistan

Fatima Raja
Mohammad Nissar, the fastest bowler in pre-partition Indian Test
cricket, is now all but forgotten in his own country.

It was the end of June, and a sunny day in London. The poppy-red
fields of Flanders had been peaceful for over a decade, and Hitler was
no more than a dark cloud upon the horizon. And in distant India,
once-wealthy India, an English king was emperor. But in London, bright
that summer morning, eleven men from India had travelled over the seas
to walk out before an audience of 24,000. They were eleven men, kitted
out in their whites, and they were in Lord's to play their country's
maiden Test match, against their colonial rulers.

India lost that 1932 Test, and it would be forty long years before it
would defeat England in England (Pakistan managed it at The Oval in
1954). But in that match the seeds of South Asia's obsession with
cricket were sown. Players who, fifteen years later, were divided
between the two successor states of India and Pakistan played a sport
that captured their countries' imagination. In a very real sense that
Test, on July 25, 1932, was the debut match for Pakistan as well as
for India. And the very first ball that morning was bowled by a man
who, though he played in only six Tests, would later be considered one
of India's finest fast bowlers. Mohammad Nissar faced one of England's
most promising opening pairs: H Sutcliffe and P Holmes, who had
managed a partnership of 555 runs only days before.

On the first ball of Nissar's second over, Sutcliffe was bowled out.
And on the last ball of that same over, Holmes' stumps went flying out
of the ground. In that moment, as the stump cartwheeled out of the
earth and into history, South Asian cricket was born. "In my mind's
eye, I saw the news flashing over the air to far flung places," wrote
Neville Cardus, the great cricket journalist. "To Punjab and Karachi,
to dusky men in the hills, in the bazaars on the East, to Gandhi
himself, and to Gunga Din."

And India never forgot. To this day, Mohammad Nissar is celebrated in
India as the man who bowled the first Indian Test ball, who took the
first Indian Test wicket, who was the first Indian to take five
wickets in an innings, all in the same match. At a ceremony hosted by
the Cricket Club of India (CCI) in Mumbai, Nissar's son Waqar Nisar
came to accept an award in his father's name: a piece of turf from
Lord's, the only award of its kind in Pakistan, given to all those who
took five wickets or scored centuries at Lord's for India.

Mohammad Nissar was born in Hoshiarpur in the Punjab in 1910. He came
to Lahore to study, where at some point he became interested in
cricket, then a young sport in the subcontinent. He played " shalwar
kameez cricket" in Minto Park, and was selected for his college and
the Punjab University teams. His pace and skill led him to be selected
for India in the maiden Test of 1932, where he was joined by the
medium-fast bowler L Amar Singh. Amar and Nissar soon became good
friends, and their bowling attack is still considered unmatched in
Indian cricket. Sadly, neither had a long career. Amar Singh died aged
only thirty, and Nissar's career was cut short by World War II.
Nevertheless, in his six Tests, Nissar thrice took five wickets in an

Nissar's pace was key to his success. For the batsmen facing him it
must have been terrifying: a big man running up from the length of two
cricket pitches away, with the ball coming from overhead at a speed
that, according to CK Nayudu, said to be the only batsman able to
withstand him, could be greater than Harold Larwood's. Indeed,
Nissar's intimidating bowling may well have helped the development of
Larwood's infamous Bodyline bowling in England's subsequent series
against Australia. With this devastating speed (in an era when injury
was not uncommon) and his ability to swing the new ball, Nissar
achieved the best strike rate yet in Indian cricket, with a wicket
every 48 balls. His pace, his contemporaries told Waqar Nisar, was
such that "anyone who could keep his wicket, his hands were black and
blue hands at the end of the day".

And yet Mohammad Nissar was a gentleman. In a match against the Hindus
in 1939, the Muslims captain Syed Wazir Ali asked Nissar to bowl
bouncers to the injured Vinoo Mankad. Nissar refused � it was not, he
felt, in the spirit of the game. At the time Wazir said nothing, but
Nissar was not asked to bowl another over. Another time, the Maharaja
of Patiala offered Nissar a village if he would bowl a bouncer. Again
Nissar refused. "There is no such village in the Punjab," he replied.

After partition Nissar came to Pakistan. By now he had joined the
Railways (with references from his cricketing friends, the rulers of
Pataudi, Patiala and Vijayanagar) and was married, with young
children. His days playing Test cricket were over. Some wondered
whether Amar Singh's premature death had led Nissar to gradually
abandon active play. Whatever the reason, Nissar's indirect
involvement continued. After partition he captained the
Commander-in-Chief's XI against Ceylon, and was amongst the first
selectors for Pakistan's fledgling team. Once, when the Nissars were
posted to Multan around 1961, there was a sports awards ceremony at
school. To everyone's excitement the all-rounder Lala Amarnath himself
came to present the awards. "Lala Amarnath, being Lala Amarnath was
famous," Waqar recalls. "But he refused to give awards when my father
was there. My sister, when she heard that, was confused. We never had
any idea about his cricket career, because he never spoke of it."

After his early death in 1963 the Railways inaugurated an annual
Nissar Cup in his memory, which was contested through the sixties.
Gradually, however, this historic player faded from Pakistani memory,
so that when Waqar Nisar was invited to India, he found that Pakistani
sports journalists had never heard his name. Indeed, Waqar only found
out that the CCI had been searching for Nissar's family during a
casual web browse. Reading a Calcutta newspaper online he learned that
the president of the club, Raj Singh Dungarpur had been refused a visa
to Pakistan. He had wanted to come to search for Nissar's relatives.

Where, then, is Mohammed Nissar in Pakistan's memory? When Waqar Nisar
went to collect the award, he was overwhelmed by the reverence with
which the bowler was remembered. "Everyone knew about him, people
wanted to take my autograph for his work," he recalls. Not a cricket
buff himself, and only eight when his father passed away, Waqar found
himself buffeted by the names he had heard through his life. "After I
received the award, Muhammad Azharuddin came to congratulate me. All
the great cricketers � Kapil Dev, Bedi, Gavaskar � came themselves to
greet me in my father's memory." Those who remembered the Bombay
Presidency matches between the gymkhanas became quite emotional when
they met Waqar. "One old gentleman, he was the president of the Islam
Gymkhana, and his father had been the president before him, came to
see me in tears. He was determined that I visit my father's home
ground at the gymkhana."

And yet, for all the rousing welcome in Bombay, for all the media
coverage in India, in Nissar's own country he is nearly forgotten.
None of the players who made their mark for undivided India's team are
remembered in the successor state of Pakistan, not even the Muslims
who opted to come to the new nation. Realising how his father is still
respected in India, Waqar is bitter that a man who considered himself
Pakistani is forgotten in Pakistan. If Pakistan was created as a
homeland for Muslims, he argues, "Muslims [before the Partition]
should be honoured and considered Pakistani cricketers. Instead India
has taken full ownership of their talents."

And, bitterly, Nissar's family has come to accept this. They have kept
safe much of the memorabilia from Nissar's career, including the
signed stump that was ripped out of the ground at Lord's. Now they
plan to donate it all to the CCI, to preserve it in the museum at
Mumbai's historic Brabourne Stadium. It is "more deserving than any
other place," Waqar feels. "In Pakistan there is no recognition for
people who are no longer alive. There are not even any enclosures
dedicated to him." And if Pakistani cricket fans cannot make even such
a small gesture, what worth will pre-partition memorabilia hold for

This nation, younger by far than its own history and with an
astonishing talent for selective recall, has a knack for ignoring its
own heroes. Mohammad Nissar is only one of the cricketers who left
their team-mates in India to come to live in this new nation, yet who
are removed from our history. Pakistani cricket began, let us not
forget, on a sunny June morning seventy years ago, when a tall man
from the Punjab began his historic runup to propel himself and his
sport into the popular imagination of a subcontinent.
Nazir Ali and Mohammad Nissar members of the All-India cricket team touring England.

Mohammad Nissar, India’s first and furious pacer that it lost to Partition

When a stocky Mohammad Nissar ran in to bowl the first ball in front of 25,000 people at Lord’s in 1932, India weren’t expected to give England much of a contest. Before the Test began, no non-white team had even played Test cricket.

The English opening pair of Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe had put on a world-record 555 runs for the first wicket just nine days earlier. On that day, both were bowled by Nissar.

Sutcliffe was dismissed by an inswinging yorker, and Holmes with a delivery that caused the off-stump to perform a spectacular cartwheel. When Frank Woolley was run out soon after, mighty England were tottering at 19/3.

Within the first 20 minutes of the match, Nissar, and his new ball partner Amar Singh, had got the ball to rise from the pitch “like the crack of doom” and had made the cricketing world sit up.

England did recover from the shock of losing their top order in Nissar’s opening spell to post 259 on India’s first day in international cricket. At the end of Day 1, India were 30/0, with Nissar’s 5/93 the best performance of the day.

For two whole days – the next day was a rest day – Indian cricket dared to dream. Outside Lord’s, children were imitating Nissar’s run-up and action, said historian Ramachandra Guha.

‘Can lay claim to be part of an all-time India team’
“It is ironical that India – a land known for great spin pairs and batting pairs like Bedi-Prasanna and Sachin-Dravid – had a pace duo as its first world-conquering partnership,” Guha said.

“Vijay Merchant and Nissar would be the only two players from the pre-War years who can lay claim to be part of an all-time India team,” he said.

However, a chain of events started by World War II and Partition resulted in India’s first pace bowler fading from memory. This, in spite of Nissar taking the country’s first Test wicket, and its first 5-wicket haul.

“It is unfortunate that there are no stadiums or pavilions named after Mohammad Nissar. The Indian side thinks they will not honour him because he is a Pakistani. The Pakistani side thinks that he played for India and so they do not need to honour him,” said his son Waqar Nissar from Lahore.

In that first Test, India’s dream stayed alive till the afternoon of the third day. CK Nayudu and Wazir Ali were batting at one stage with the score 110/2, but England pulled things back to bowl India out for 189. They won the Test the next day by 158 runs.

“It was my father and the 1932 team that took subcontinental cricket to the world. Within two years of that match, England were in India to play three Tests. This was unusual. They would have seen that the Indian team was special, that they could give competition,” Waqar said.

An unsuitable ending
When India got their second chance to play a Test, this time at home against England in 1933-34, Nissar opened the bowling and took another 5 wickets in an innings.

England almost went undefeated on that tour, with one blemish: a 14-run defeat to the Maharaja of Vizianagram’s XI in Benaras. Nissar was the star of that match as well with figures of 9 for 117.

In 1936, India toured England for the last time before the Second World War stopped Test cricket for 10 years. Nissar took a 5-wicket haul in the third Test of the series, but was called back to the country before the end of the tour by his employers, Indian Railways.

“He was under tremendous pressure to return during the Test. They had told him if he did not return, the job would go to someone else,” said Waqar.

“Since that ’36 tour, he played cricket only at the convenience of his job,” he said.

Suvam Pal, a Beijing-based journalist who is working on Nissar’s biography, said the bowler’s job with the Indian Railways would have been very important to him given cricket wasn’t a profession yet.

“He would also often drop out of Ranji matches and Pentangular matches after this because of office commitments,” said Pal.

At 26, that was Nissar’s last match in international cricket. He finished with the unique distinction of having picked up a five-wicket haul in both his first and last Test.

An All-Indian bowler
Representing India in the 1930s was complicated business. Newspaper reports of the time referred to the side that travelled to England in 1932 as The All-Indian side. The Civil Disobedience movement was at its peak, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were behind bars, and cricketers like Vijay Merchant had boycotted the tour.

“Merchant came from a nationalist family. They supported the Freedom Movement. Cricketers from princely states, like CK Nayudu, were not part of that boycott,” said Guha.

“For Mohammad Nissar, the fact that he was a Muslim would have caused certain complications. It would have caused problems in going to England, for instance. After the 1934 Eden Test, a newspaper report said that Nissar had not been able to perform because he was on his roza,” he said.

Waqar tried to explain his father’s political stance.

“He knew that the Partition was going to happen. Many of the Nawabs wrote him letters pleading with him to stay on the Indian side. But his heart was in Lahore. Whichever side of the border Lahore would be on, he would belong there,” he said.

“He just wanted to play cricket, he was not a political person at all. Even after the Partition, he selected the first Pakistan team, but left cricket administration after that because of politics. He was invited to all the matches, he used to go because he wanted to remain close to the game,” Waqar said.

Pal said Nissar was a “gentleman cricketer who believed in the spirit of the game”.

“During a Pentangular match between the Hindus and Muslims, captain Wazir Ali instructed Nissar to bowl bouncers at Vinoo Mankad’s head. Nissar refused,” said Pal.

This gentlemanly nature might have played a role in his selection to the first Indian side.

“During the trials, Amar Singh’s brother Ladha Ramji, another genuinely quick bowler, peppered the Maharaja of Vizianagram with bouncers to the body. He was not selected,” said Pal.

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Some nice info about Nissar from Leslie Ames and Jahangir Khan.