There are some exceptional people from enemy country (no cash payback to guess please) whom we tend to love or like to be soft with , due to their gentle character . Here I am referring to a cricketer , not just a cricketer but a cricket ambassador Pakistan badly needed.
The class apart cricketer for whom many Indians have a ‘smooth’ corner, is the leg spinner who recently passed away.
Abdul Quadir ( 236 Test scalps) is one of the trickiest leg spinners our generation ( of 70s and 80s ) has fortunately witnessed and is one of those guys from Pakistan whom no sports lover would love to hate except for some of our batsmen who faced him tentatively.
Its different story that born genius kid from India surprised the leg spinner when boy hit him beyond rope four times in a first encounter to declare the arrival of a storm Tendulkar.
If cricket has charm and beauty it is because of the various artistic skills portrayed by few stylish batsmen or naturally rhythmic bowlers. Among the bowling department leg spin is the most deceptively penetrating weapon and its ironical that only real born creative skilled guys are those who are expert at using it with variety effectively to deceive the greatest batsmen . There is no google available for a batsman to search or find where the flighted leg spinning delivery could be landing.
There have been great spinners from all countries offcourse. Subhash Gupte from India was the ‘ tallest’ they say and his statistics talk better than any of Indians( 149 wickets from just 39 Tests) . B.S. Chandrashekhar (242 wickets) was anytime anywhere matchwinner but not a typical ‘ flight the ball’ leggie. He was fastish and could bowl a few at 140 plus. King Viv , Lloyd, Kalicharan ( All top class dreades ones) were weary of him. Whenever he found rythm , he became combination of a pacer and a spinner . Must be one who single handedly used to turn the match upside down in just one spell.
Shivramkrishnan, Hirwani, Amit Mishra were all good and talented but were consistently inconsistent.They won few for India but were never in a que for a legend tag. Chahal is new hope.
Anil Kumble is legend (619 Test wickets) , though more of a Chandra type. Anil must be the only leg spinner who grabbed up more scalps without turning the ball. No one would contest though that he was one of the most accurate ones.
Shane warne (708 wickets )was arguably greatest of all time and a complete leg spinner . He could bowl every possible ball , a leg spinner would dream to bowl and a batsman could only dream not to miss-time it.
Former English captain Mike Gatting might as well forget his first breakup with his girlfriend but not being clean bowled by Shane from a ball pitching outside legs to take off stump. It must be all time best ball by any leg spinner till date even Shane could never repeat the magical delivery . Richie Benaud another Aussie was quite popular as leg spinner (248 wickets in 63 Tests) as much as a commentator .
Mushtaq Mohhamad, Mushtaq Ahmed, Intikhab Alam, Kaneria were few names from Pakistan which were respected by opponents though Qadir was undoubtedly top class turner from bowlers producing factory of neighbor country.
Constantly searching a potential world class young talent for his team was captain Imran’s hobby and to nurture it agrresively , was his passion. Using Qadir as a potent weapon was Imran’s one of many gambles and he used to get best out of him to mesmerise the opponents.
Qadir had a peculiar action and used to turn ball viciously off the pitch. His googley caught batsman unaware most of the times you will agree. He was bowler for all wickets (dead or cracky) . Qadir was attacking as a bowler and a gentleman as a cricketer, a rare mix. His per wicket average of more than thirty does not reflect his extraordinary skill and ability.
Hardly any player from Pakistan was respected and adored more than Abdul bhai by Indian spectators may be. He was feared as much as Javed Miandad but was liked as much as Javed was unliked.
Abdul Qadir ji we Indians without exception were deeply saddened and stunned for a moment when news of your demise was flashed on social media.
May be the Heaven’s XI urgently needed a quality leggie like you.
By Aju Deshpande
A Sportsnasha exclusive