Faded and jaded gems of cricket part III

It’s a huge issue….selecting the right players to justify the topic….but the game has chewed up so many of them, there never seems to be a dearth of those who make a lot of promise and deliver little at the end.


“…..Mohammad Zahid was a yard quicker than me when we bowled together in 1997….the ball out of his hands used to reach the keeper head high while I struggled to reach the waist”

                                                                           -Shoaib Akhtar on Mohammad Zahid

even Brian Lara echoed about his pace on similar lines.

The statement above reveals a lot more than mere pace…it’s one thing to be pacy and another to generate a kick out of unresponsive pitches. Mohammad Zahid had a fantastic high arm action and a very smooth approach to the popping crease. He burst on to the international scene with a 12 wicket-test match haul against New Zealand, that was his debut test. He was taken to Toronto to face off arch rivals India in a 5 match annual fixture that was a regularity then. He troubled all the batsmen and even hurried Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Azharuddin who were both very good judgers of the ball.

He went to Australia as well and performed decently enough to raise a few eyebrows again.

All didn’t go well with this talented player as his back broke, lethal for any fast bowler. There is a conspiracy theory that still goes around in Pakistan that the then captain Wasim Akram deliberately made him bowl long spells on dead unresponsive tracks in Sri Lanka when the team had three quality pacers and a fine spinning duo of the two Mushtaqs……..the authenticity of the theory still has question marks all over it, but the promise of Zahid would remain a fairytale for storytellers from Pakistan and beyond. One shudders to think what he would have clocked on the speedguns which became a regular feature a couple of years after he his back went on him. Zahid continued to bowl, with a less prominent sharpness and did move around the English county circuit for a while. He was recalled in the squad  in 2003 for a test match against South Africa where the Proteans plummeted the Pakis as Kirsten and Gibbs shared 368 for 1st wicket….END of the story.  

FANIE De VILLIERS a.k.a Vinnige Fanie (Fast Fanie)

Broad shoulders, ice cold face and a strict run up that was followed by a-not-so-beautiful-but-very-effective-open chested action, a dedicated –athletic fieldsman in the deep and a hopeless batsman……very very gutsy…perfect way to describe the man…I guess.He made his first class debut in 1985/86 for Northern Transvaal,way before South Africa was re-admitted to the cricketng galaxy. Fanie burst on the scene with South Africa emerging as one of the finest cricketing nations at that time in the early nineties, on a tour to Australia in 1993/94-where he took 6/43 in Sydney (match wickets 10_helping South Africa defend a paltry117. A very colourful character on the field as well as he once chewed David Shephard’s ear (Not the Mike Tyson way) after not giving a decision in affirmation and also for showing red card to the audience.

Favorite Quote-“You know South Africans; we never give up.”

 Allan Donald was at the peak of his prowess and needed a good supporting hand from the other end, especially after the sharp and promising Bret Schultz retired following a back injury( the second title for the current topic), there was a Brian McMillan to fill up the holes, but no one good enough to create havoc….yes the likes of  Mathews and Snell came and went…and this was some time before Pollock made his first impressions. He proved to be a very good partner for Donald, especially for the test series against Australia in 1993/94 at home where they had all the Aussies jumping and swaying…and that was a good Aussie pack with Boon,Waughs,Jones,Border and Taylor(not in any order). He enjoyed good outings to India(twice-’93 Hero Cup and full tour in 1996/97) and Australia, but Injuries did take a toll on the big man and age also played antagonist. He hung up his boots soon after, but his bowling averages (24.27 in Tests and 27.74 in ODIs) speak volumes about his efficacy and raw aggression.

78984851, Bob Thomas/Getty Images /Bob Thomas Sports Photography


Talk to anyone from that era and they will say one thing…………”That Durrani was such a moody and temperamental player, he used to be a master of his wishes and used to hit sixes on demand be it numerous Ranji games or some remote international encounters here and there”

Afghani blood in his veins did show up.

Maybe the player was way ahead of his time, because if he would have played in this star-studded IPL era he would have been tantamount to explosive players like Afridi, Yusuf pathan, Gilchrist or even a Yuvraj Singh who is compared to the man under scanner owing to his downplaying colourful life beyond the ground that has demeaned him. He was a useful tweaker of sorts as well apart from being a sharp fieldsman.He did not play a lot of games as his lifestyle did not let him do so….we would not want to be in the selection politics discussion as it was the Big cities that used to churn out almost all the players that played for India and he wasn’t one of them. He played only 29 tests in 13 years for IndiaRegardless of that he was considered a fine player elsewhere too and he would have made a name had he played for the West Indies for the swagger he possessed….don’t think about women..eh!

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