Many thought Javed Miandad was just a cocky smart alec. How wrong they were
Javed Miandad was the archetypal "champion if he's on your side, bastard if he's an opponent".
Or, put another way, he could be an aggrannoying little devil. This term derives from a combination of aggravating and annoying and my mother occasionally used it when I tested her patience. It's the perfect description of Javed if you were an opponent.
I only played against Javed in the 1978-79 season when he was with the World XI during Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. He would annoy you by throwing his hands in the air even when you middled a shot. And when he was batting, he'd try and entice opponents into a shy at the stumps by continuing to stand out of his crease even when the ball was fielded. To make matters worse it was all done with an impish grin on his face.
At first I put his actions down to youthful cockiness. However, I changed my mind while batting in a match at the Gabba. When I looked around the field before facing up, Javed was standing about three metres behind square leg. I clipped the next ball just in front of square leg and, thinking the area was vacant, called for a run. My partner sent me back, which saved a certain run-out as Javed had moved in with the bowler at an angle and finished in front of square leg by the time the ball was delivered.
That made me realise Javed was a very thoughtful cricketer, forever plotting the downfall of opposing batsmen. Once you came to that realisation, Javed ceased to be a smart alec and was simply just another highly competitive cricketer, not half as annoying on the field, and quite lively company off it.
Javed really got under the skin of Australian cricketers in 1979, at the MCG. He ran out Rodney Hogg, who had moved out of his crease to do some gardening. Hogg smashed down his stumps before departing and, in Australian eyes, Javed's reputation for sportsmanship was as low as the shooters for which the MCG was famous at the time.
However, it's illuminating to read Imran Khan's response to his team-mate's actions, in his autobiography, All Round View. "I thought it was very funny," writes Imran, "because Javed was brought up in the highly competitive street cricket in which this sort of thing was commonplace - every rule [sic] in the book was stretched to get people out. Fielders would tell a batsman he'd dropped something on the pitch, and when he went to retrieve it they'd run him out
Javed was brought up in the highly competitive street cricket in which every rule in the book was stretched to get people out
Obviously Javed wasn't the only aggranoying little devil in that Karachi neighbourhood.
Javed then compounded his crime in the eyes of Australian fans by getting involved in an altercation with a green-and-gold cricket god at his very own Mecca.
In 1981, Javed tangled with Dennis Lillee mid-pitch at the WACA. Javed had tormented Lillee by deliberately standing out of his crease. Dennis, never one to knock back a challenge, tried to run Javed out each time he fielded the ball.
After a few unsuccessful attempts, Lillee changed tack, literally, and moved off his line in his follow-through. Inevitably there was a collision and this degenerated when Lillee gave the batsman a light kick on the back of the leg. Javed retaliated by threatening to clout him on the head with the bat, while in the middle was umpire Tony Crafter, trying to calm the warring factions. This incident typifies Javed; he didn't seek soft targets.
Javed was highly critical of the absurd 1987 law on short-pitched deliveries, where, if they passed above the batsman's shoulder, it was called a no-ball. Javed expressed his opposition to the law prior to a one-day match against West Indies at the WACA, where their fearsome fast bowlers were capable of producing shoulder-high deliveries every ball. Javed was not the sort of batsman who wanted a favour from the laws. He strode to the crease expecting to earn every run.
Javed even had the nerve to challenge an Indian legend. Sunil Gavaskar confirmed this when I asked if he ever picked the ball up while batting. "No," he replied, "I didn't. But every now and again when we played Pakistan, I'd bend down and pick a bit of grass from right next to the ball. That would get two players in the opposition excited," he chuckled.
"I'll bet it was Javed and Sarfraz," I laughed.
"Exactly," responded Gavaskar. "Javed would say, 'Chalo, chalo, gaind uthao buddhe,'" which Sunny explained meant "Come on, come on, pick up the ball, old man" in Hindi.
Nevertheless, with his skill, perseverance and street-urchin cunning, Javed won grudging respect as one of the finest batsmen in the game.
The one black mark on his record was his failure to unite the Pakistan team while he was in charge. His captaincy record is littered with the refuse of responsibility. At different times he was sacked by the selectors, handed in his resignation and was even overthrown by his own players. He never sulked, or offered less than his best for whoever was captain. As Javed explained, "I am a fierce competitor and a proud Pakistani."
Despite the rejections and reversals he was an excellent limited-overs captain. In Australia on the 1981-82 tour he manufactured a victory at Adelaide Oval after his side had been bowled out by West Indies for 140. He nearly produced a second miracle at the Gabba when, chasing 107 for victory, the ninth West Indies wicket fell at 105. Both performances were examples of Javed's imaginative captaincy and fierce desire to fight every inch of the way.
Ever the tempter: Miandad gets back into the crease before Alec Stewart removes the bails, The Oval, 1992
© PA Photos
Ever the tempter: Miandad gets back into the crease before Alec Stewart removes the bails, The Oval, 1992 © PA Photos
When his mind wasn't occupied by captaincy he found other ways to amuse himself. In the 1992 World Cup, Javed's mickey-taking impersonation of Indian keeper Kiran More appealing at the SCG was one of the most amusing interludes of the tournament.
In the 1996 World Cup quarter-final in Bangalore no Indian supporter could relax until Javed was dismissed, even though he was eighth out with 49 runs still required and few balls remaining. This uneasiness stemmed from ten years before when Javed had hit a six off the last delivery in a Sharjah final to rob India of what appeared to be certain victory.
With Pakistan eliminated from the 1996 tournament, Javed threw a party for the television crew in Lahore before the final. It was a party typical of the host: lively and full of challenging conversations. During the evening Javed made a short speech in which he paid tribute to a man who did much for televised cricket in India, Mark Mascarenhas. In proposing a toast, Javed dubbed him "our Mark". A proud Pakistani he might have been but he wasn't above recognising a great achievement by a subcontinent rival.
Over time I realised that not only was Javed an exceptional cricketer, he was also good company. A far cry from the aggranoying little devil I perceived him to be when we first encountered each other.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist
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