A cursory glance shows 34 Tests, fetching 139 wickets @ an avg of 24.7 - impressive figures, but figures that without context do no justice to Pakistan’s 1st cricket immortal, Fazal Mahmood.

@CricVestigate aims to highlight Fazal’s enormous impact on Pakistan cricket.

[1 of 32]
Fazal grew up in pre partition Lahore; and aged 17 was selected to play in the Ranji Trophy in 1944. His talent was such that he was selected for India’s tour to Aus in 1947/48, but after partition, decided he couldn’t go and took a job as a policeman, posted in Hangu.

[2 of 32]
There was little chance to play domestic cricket in newly formed Pakistan, but Fazal still practised & maintained fitness.

A few opportunities came by persuading sides touring India (eg WI in 1948), to tag on a trip to Pak. There were also some matches in Ceylon (SL).

[3 of 32]
Fazal was an opening bowler & useful lower order batsman for a Pakistan side that generally did better than expected, but craved Test status.

When MCC agreed to tour Pakistan, on the back of a 3-4 month, 5 Test India tour in 1951, it was a chance to press their case.

[4 of 32]
1st MCC v Pakistan match ended in a draw. Fazal, who had taken 5 for 58 in the MCC v Punjab match, had a quiet game.

The 2nd & final match saw MCC win the toss & elect to bat, only for Fazal to take 6-40, bowling them out for 123 on his favoured coir matting surface.

[5 of 32]
In response, Statham & Shackleton reduced Pakistan to 86-8; a useful 29 from Fazal lifted the total to 130, a 7-run lead.

2nd inns MCC made 291, with Graveney hitting a ton & Khan Muhammad taking 5 wkts (Fazal only 1), leaving Pakistan to chase an unlikely 285 to win.

[6 of 32]
Chasing, Pakistan had steady contributions; 16-yr old Hanif Mohammad top scored with a resolute 64. Fazal joined Kardar at 261-6 (24 req'd); and hit the winning runs (12) to seal a shock victory.

At the time it was seen as huge for Pakistan cricket, and so it proved.

[7 of 32]
Fazal’s starring role versus MCC meant that on 28 July 1952, Pakistan were granted Test status.

It was the 1st & most important of his 6 match defining performances that built the rich legacy of Pakistan cricket in the 1950s, but one not reflected in his Test numbers.

[8 of 32]
Fazal could make the ball talk, particularly on coir matting surfaces. His specialty was his leg-cutter, which his father had shown him as a child & he had perfected so it swung in before breaking away.

His next challenge was Pakistan’s 1st ever Test series, in India.

[9 of 32]
Pakistan lost by an inns in their inaugural Test, with Mankad taking 13 wickets. Fazal took 2-92; & scored 21* (HS besides openers) & 27 (1 of 3 to reach double digits).



After taunting from a Delhi spectator, Fazal vowed to avenge the defeat.

[10 of 32]
2nd Test at Lucknow, India were shot out for 106 and 182, as Pakistan won by an inns.

Fazal was the hero taking 5-52 & 7-42. He was unsure 1st time bowling on the jute-matting wicket, but then started hitting the seam; and gaining confidence after bowling Manjrekar.

[11 of 32]
Although India were without Mankad, Hazare & Adhikari, it was special for Pakistan to win their 1st ever Test in only their 2nd & Fazal was the architect.

The magnitude of the achievement is clear in the context of the time it took other teams to win their 1st Test.

[12 of 32]
Pakistan lost the 5-Test series 2-1, but it was a remarkable start for a country without even a formal FC cricket competition.

The Quaid-e-Azam trophy was only created towards the end of 1953, after MCC invited Pakistan for a 4-Test series tour to England in 1954.

[13 of 32]
Fazal toured England in 1953 as part of a Pakistan Eaglets side to gain experience in English conditions, although the opposition were below FC standard.

Surrey’s Alf Gover coached Fazal, adding an outswinger to his repertoire, without changing his natural action.

[14 of 32]
England, who had won the Ashes the previous summer, were a squad boasting stars like Hutton, Compton, May, Graveney, Statham, Bedser, Tyson, Bailey, Evans, Laker & Wardle (no Trueman)!

On paper, the series was a total mismatch & in reality it was for the 1st 3 Tests.

[15 of 32]
Poor weather meant that Pakistan managed to draw 1st (Hanif batted time in both inns) & 3rd Test, either side of an inns loss (Compton 278, dropped off Fazal on 20) in the 2nd.

The Pakistani batsmen struggled badly with team scores: 87 & 121-3, 157 & 272, 90 & 25-4.

[16 of 32]
Fazal had bowled well in the 1st Test (4-54) to restrict Eng (who wanted quick runs) & in the 3rd (4-107).

He had struggled in the 2nd (0-148); bowling with a leg injury off a shortened run for most of the inns. The atrocious standard of fielding didn’t help either.

[17 of 32]
The wisdom of giving Test status to Pakistan was being questioned by the media. Still, Fazal was oddly confident going into the 4th Test at the Oval.

Pakistan, batting 1st, were rolled for 133 (from 51-7), by Tyson, Loader & Statham. Heavy rain then wiped out day 2.

[18 of 32]
On the 3rd day, Fazal took 6-53 bowling unchanged for 30 overs, to dismiss England for 130.

He enjoyed the conditions caused by heavy rain on the uncovered pitch & removed England’s 4 best batsmen, Hutton, Compton, May and Graveney despite multiple dropped catches.

[19 of 32]
Hutton was out to the outswinger that Gover had shown Fazal.

In 2nd inns, Pakistan were once more in trouble at 82-8, but got to 164 thanks to a 58-run partnership from Wazir Mohammad & Zulfiqar Ahmed (Wardle 7-56), leaving England 168 to win the Test and series 2-0.

[20 of 32]
Defending a low total, Fazal bowled 16 overs on the trot, dismissing Hutton again.

When he changed ends for his 2nd spell, May & Compton had taken Eng to 104-2; with 64 needed & Day 4 close approaching.

At 109-2, May was out caught at gully off a Fazal slower ball.

[21 of 32]
Fazal later claimed that before May’s dismissal, Kardar hoped for a Day 5 washout & tried to take him off, but he stubbornly refused.

Evans, promoted to end the match quickly, was bowled by Fazal, who also removed Compton. In b/w, Graveney was out to SLA Shujauddin.

[22 of 32]
The Test had turned; England closed on 125-6, needing 43 to win.

Next morning, Pakistan’s poor fielding continued; Wardle was dropped repeatedly. As tension increased, Fazal yet again came to the rescue, dismissing Tyson & Wardle to leave England at 138-8 (30 req'd).

[23 of 32]
England were all out for 143 shortly after; against all odds Pakistan had completed a miraculous victory.

Fazal, with 2nd inns figures of 6-46 & match figures of 12-99, had, in winning the Test & squaring the series, pulled off one of the greatest upsets of all time.

[24 of 32]
No team had ever won a Test in their 1st tour to England, let alone drawn a series.

Fazal had proved Kardar wrong for his pre-series doubts around his effectiveness on turf.

In 1955, Fazal also became the 1st Pakistani to be chosen as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.

[25 of 32]
After the Oval Test, having only played 9 Tests, Fazal had already ensured he would be in the annals of Pakistan cricket; some of his performances that followed only added to his legend.

In 1956, when Aus toured Pak for a single Test, he destroyed them taking 13-114.

[26 of 32]
Moving the ball both ways on the mat, Fazal had created another unique Pakistani record; in beating a formidable Australian side including names like Harvey, Miller, Davidson, Lindwall & Benaud by 9 wkts, they became the only team to beat Australia on the 1st attempt.

[27 of 32]
When a confident West Indies team visited Pakistan in 1959, following a comprehensive 3-1 series win on the tour of India, they were ambushed by Fazal (now captain), who took 7-124 & 12-100 to win the first 2 Tests to clinch the 3-Test series.



[28 of 32]
The 2nd Test was another example of Pakistan turning over a strong side that included Sobers, Kanhai, Hall etc. in a tight match, through Fazal’s brilliance.

Fazal became the 1st ever bowler (& still only pacer) to take a 12+ wicket haul against 4 other Test nations.

[29 of 32]
On top of his ability to extract prodigious movement, another crucial quality that Fazal had was excellent fitness, allowing him to continuously build pressure through long spells.

On avg, he bowled 31 overs/inns, more than any other pacer in history (min. 100 wkts).

[30 of 32]
Fazal’s fitness came from a rigorous routine that he followed meticulously from childhood.

He would sleep by 10 p.m., rise at 4.30 a.m., and jog for 10 miles regardless of the weather.

He would also jump rope 500 times; and in summer, swim many lengths in the pool.

[31 of 32]
Pakistan’s greatest cricketer is Imran Khan, but Fazal Mahmood will always be their 1st great cricketer.

Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges, he drove his country to unlikely heights & without him it is conjecture as to where Pakistan cricket would be today.

[32 of 32]

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