LAHORE   -   Former Test cricketer and googly master Abdul Qadir died of cardiac attack at 63 here on Friday.

Qadir’s son Salman Qadir confirmed the demise of the iconic cricketer. The former cricketer was shifted to Services Hospital after the heart attack but he could not survive. He was also father-in-law of Test cricketer Umar Akmal.

The former leg spinner also served Pakistan cricket as chief selector of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and also remained a commentator for some time. He appeared in 67 Test and 104 One Day International (ODI) matches between 1977 and 1993 and captained the Pakistan cricket team in five ODIs.

In Test cricket, his best performance for a series was 30 wickets for 437 runs, in three Test matches at home, against England in 1987. His best bowling figures for an innings were nine wickets for 56 against the same team at the Gaddafi Stadium in the same series in 1987. In ODIs, his best bowling figures were five wickets for 44 runs against Sri Lanka during the 1983 Cricket World Cup. He was a member of the Pakistani team in the 1983 and 1987 Cricket World Cups.

Qadir is widely regarded as a topspin bowler of his generation and was included in Richie Benaud’s Greatest XI shortlist of an imaginary cricket team from the best players available from all countries and eras. “PCB is shocked at the news of ‘maestro’ Abdul Qadir’s passing and has offered its deepest condolences to his family and friends,” the PCB tweeted.

Cricket would have been poorer had it not been for the contribution of Abdul Qadir . The art of leg-spin bowling was dying during the decade of the 70s and it seemed that there would never be another leg spinner in the coming. Qadir ushered in a renaissance that made leg spin bowling a cherished art form. His secret was that he possessed six different deliveries in an over. The flipper and the top-spinner were Qadir’s two different varieties of the googly and many were left flummoxed.

He made his debut against England at Hyderabad in 1978. In the second innings, he took 6/44 as Pakistan looked like stealing victory. However, England managed to hang on for a draw. Things went slightly downward for Qadir after that series. On the return tour in 1982, injuries plagued him and he proved to be ineffective in the matches that he played.

In the series against Australia in 1982, Qadir regained his lost form by snapping up 11 wickets at Faisalabad as Australia hurtled to an innings defeat. Throughout the series, Qadir troubled the Australians with his variations as he finished up with 22 wickets in three matches. Pakistan whitewashed the Australians 3-0 and Qadir was establishing himself as a potent force. Imran Khan transformed Qadir into a brilliant bowler during his captaincy and he always managed to get the best out of him.

His bowling even made the mighty West Indian team clueless during the 80’s. The fact that West Indies could not get over Pakistan during their period of dominance is partly due to Qadir’s leg spinners. His most memorable performance came at Faisalabad when he tore through the West Indies top order in the second innings. His 6/16 bundled the West Indies out for just 53 runs. He troubled the West Indies throughout that series as he and Imran Khan finished the series as the joint highest wicket takers with 18 wickets apiece.

England simply had no clue to Qadir’s leg-breaks. Out of the five 10-wicket hauls taken in his career, four have come against England while out of the 15 five wicket hauls, eight were against them. Two glorious moments stand out for Qadir during the 1987 season. Against England at the Oval, Pakistan notched up 708. Qadir ran through the England batting in the first innings by snapping up 7/96. However, England managed to hang on and draw the match with a gritty performance in the second innings.

In the return leg played in November, Qadir’s moment of glory arrived when in front of his home crowd in Lahore, he picked up 9/56 as Pakistan notched up an innings victory. These figures continue to remain the best bowling figures by a Pakistani bowler and this prompted Graham Gooch, the England opener, to call him the best leg spinner ever.

Qadir was a fighter to the core. He also was a handy bat lower down the order. He once thumped Courtney Walsh for 13 runs in the last over of the match to give Pakistan a one wicket victory in the 1987 World Cup match at Lahore. With the emergence of Mushtaq Ahmed, Qadir retired from cricket in 1993. He ran a private cricket academy in Lahore and he mentored Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria admirably. He became the chief selector of the PCB in 2008 but resigned after six months.

Cricket has Abdul Qadir to thank for keeping wrist-spin alive through the darkest years of the late 1970s and ‘80s. He did it with style, too. Blessed with a fast bowler’s temperament and fire, he surrounded his craft with mystique. Before the 1982 tour to England, captain Imran Khan asked him to grow a French beard to enhance the aura and it worked: England were his favourite victims through his career, responsible for his international breakthrough in 1977-78 as well as his finest hours, at the Oval in 1987 and the home series later that year. Imran was to be a key influence on his career, one of the few capable of getting the best out of Qadir the man and bowler.

Full name

Abdul Qadir Khan

Born

September 15, 1955

Lahore, Punjab

Current age

63 years 356 days

Major teams

Pakistan, Habib Bank

Limited, Lahore, Punjab

Batting style

Right-hand bat

Bowling style

Legbreak googly

Batting

Mat Runs HS Ave

Tests 67 1029 61 15.59

ODIs 104 641 41* 15.26

First-class 209 3740 112 18.33

List A 147 869 41* 14.01

Bowling

Mat Wkts BBI Ave

Tests 67 236 9/56 32.80

ODIs 104 132 5/44 26.16

First-class 209 960 9/49 23.24

List A 147 202 5/31 23.09