Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday led the tribute for his former team-mate and spin great Abdul Qadir a day after he died of heart attack in Lahore.
Cricket hero-turned-politician Khan and Qadir had a long and eventful association as team-mates.
Qadir, who would have turned 64 on September 15, was a favourite of the former captain.
‘Abdul Qadir was a genius, one of the greatest leg spinners of all time,’ Khan tweeted, as fans all over Pakistan mourned the player’s death.
‘And he was also the life of the dressing room entertaining the team with his wit & humour’.
Qadir made his Test debut against England in Lahore in 1977 and went on to play 67 Tests, taking 236 wickets with a best of 9-56 against the same side in 1987.
Those figures are still the best by a Pakistan bowler in a Test innings.
He also took 132 wickets in 104 one-day internationals, with Imran using him as an attacking weapon in the 1983 World Cup held in England.
‘Qadir’s bowling statistics do not do justice to his genius,’ said Khan.
‘Had he been playing cricket now with the modern DRS system, where batsmen can be given out on the front foot as well, Qadir would have gotten as many wickets as the great Shane Warne’.
Qadir was an influential figure in Pakistan’s most successful teams in the 1980s and later a mentor to the next generation of leg-spinners, including Australia’s Shane Warne and Pakistan’s Mushtaq Ahmed.
Commentating for Sky Sports during the fourth Ashes test between England and Australia, Warne said Qadir was a ‘brilliant, brilliant bowler.’
‘I had the opportunity to meet him in 1994 on my first tour to Pakistan,’ the Australian said.
‘I think a lot of people who bowled leg-spin, like I did, he was the guy who we looked up to in the eighties. He was the main leg-spinner in that era.
‘He was a terrific bowler who bamboozled a lot of batsmen. His record is a terrific one.’
‘He would always ask you whether you had picked the googly,’ former England captain David Gower told Sky Sports. ‘‘Have you picked it?’ he would tease. A lovely guy, with a huge skillset. Our condolences to all close to him.’
After retiring from the sport, he served as the chief selector for Pakistan.
‘They called him the magician for many reasons but when he looked me in the eyes & told me I was going to play for Pakistan for the next 20 years, I believed him,’ former Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram wrote on Twitter.
‘A Magician, absolutely. A leg spinner & a trailblazer of his time.’
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