Here's another extract from Imran Khan's autobiography "All Round View",
typesettings are mine, and as usual, I hope no copyrights have been
Gordon Greenidge is another West Indian who has impressed me greatly over
the years. He is an exceptional batsman who can defend if he needs to,
but when he attacks, he's as good as anybody. He has played two outstanding
innings against Pakistan, the first in Jamaica in 1976-7, when he scored
100. Greenidge's innings was a mixture of watchful defence and blistering
attack. Then, at Lahore in 1986-7, he scored a very patient 75 to set up
the West Indies' win. Apart from Richards, who made 44, none of the others
reached 20, but Greenidge brought all his experience to bear, exercising
great restraint. This was the match in which we were shot out for 77,
allowing the West Indies to square the series after our win at Faisalabad.
Greenidge's main problem is that he seems very injury prone for a batsman.
He is often seen limping about at the crease, yet in some ways he then
seems to become even more dangerous. I have never seen anyone score more
runs when apparently injured. He can play well off both feet, and cuts
with ferocious power. He is one of the most complete batsmen I have seen.
Surprisingly, Greenidge's record in Australia is not that great, though
he has done consistently well in tests in England, especially in Tests:
who will ever forget his double century on the last day of the Lord's test?
England had set the West Indies a stiff target, but Greenidge made it
look silly with a tremendous innings, and the West Indies reached 344 for 1
with an hour to spare.
The other outstanding West Indian batsman of my time is, of course, Clive
Lloyd. I found it easier to bowl to Lloyd than to Richards or Greenidge
because my natural delivery was going away from him. But he has a tremendous
test record and he nearly always got runs for the West Indies when they
were most needed. He was still batting well when he retired, and the West
Indies have'nt yet found an adequate replacement for him. Lloyd was a very
hard hitter of the ball, usually off the front foot. LIke South Africa's
Graeme Pollock, he used a very heavy bat, so if he hit anything more than
a yard or so away from a fielder, you could give it away and watch the
boundaries mount up.
From 1972 to 1976-7, Majid Khan was easily the best batsman in the Pakistan
team. He had so much time to play the ball that he hardly needed any foot
work and relied on his reflexes and his good eye. Later in his career, he
began to struggle because his reflexes became a bit slower and he did not
have the footwork or defence to compensate. Even at his best, he had the
occasional bad patch and oculd look ordinary, but when he struck form he
was marvellous. One of his best innings anywhere came in 1974, when he hit
109 in the one day international at Trent Bridge. He dispatched an experienced
English attack - Willis, Peter Lever, Old, Underwood and Greig - all over the
ground. Majid also scored a century before lunch against New Zealand in
1976-7 - one of only four batsmen to do it so the first day of a test.
This outstanding innings not only demoralised the bowlers, but also gave
Javed a chance to score 206 at the age of nine***.
In 1974, Majid saw off Bob Willis, who was then bowling at his fastest; he
also dealt admirably with Lillee and Roberts when they were at top speed.
His hook shot was a treat to watch: only Viv Richards plays this shot better
than Majid at his best. Unfortunately, when he came home after the West
Indies tour in 1977, Majid was tired and took seven months off from cricket
(he had already stopped playing county cricket for Glamorgan). He was never
the same batsman after that. He went straight to World Series Cricket, where
there were no easy matches in which to sort out your form, and where he
kept coming up against fast bowlers like Lillee, Pascoe and all the West
Majid had a problem regaining his form, but he felt sure that he would be
all right again. He did'nt want to retire from cricket on a disappointing
note, so he hung around waiting for a good series so that he could go out
with a bang. Sadly, that good series never came, and he eventually left
cricket feeling rather embittered.
Statistically one of Pakistan's all time greats, Zaheer Abbas, was certainly
the best timer of the ball I have ever seen. There may have been harder
hitters, but no one could match his timing. At Karachi in 1982-3, during
his 186, he went to drive a ball from Kapil Dev and found that it was not
quite up to him. He checked his shot and played defensively, and his innate
timing sent the ball away for four past cover. The cricket commentators
kept replaying this shot on television, pointing out that Zaheer had'nt
even followed through. His exquisite timing meant that he was a great
player of spin bowling, which he could take apart on any wickets.
Zaheer could play off either foot, and through either side of the wicket,
but his main problem was one of temperament. As soon as he was under pressure,
he found it hard going, and often fell into a bad patch. Once in a poor run
of form, he often found it difficult to break out again.
He also had a problem with pace bowling. It did'nt seem to worry him early
in his career, but in the early 1980s he suffered a form of shellshock.
He was never the same after Sylvester Clarke had hit him on the head during
the West Indies tour of Pakistan in 1980-1, often making excuses or taking
the easy option by hitting out wildly against the slower bowlers. He was
also very conscious of his average, which counts against him in my view.
I can't really rate him in the top flight of batsmen.
Moving over the border to India, it will come as no great surprise if the
first name I select is that of Sunil Gavaskar. His record is such that he
must remain one of the all time greats. Gavaskar has had a great influence
on Indian cricket, matched in recent years only by Kapil Dev, whose main
significance was that he was the first bowler of any pace that India has
produced for many years. But Gavaskar has made the greater contribution
in my opinion. In the 1950s and 1960s, Indian batsmen had a reputation for
avoiding fast bowling, and some of them were even known to back away towards
square leg if a quick bowler came on. Gavaskar changed all this. He played
pace with relative ease: he could hook if he wanted to, but more often, he
would leave the bouncer alone and watch it sail by. His defence is well
organised, and he is a very intelligent batsman who performs well under
pressure. Indeed he has played some of his best innings under intense
pressure: twoce India has made a good***of chasing over 400 runs to win
a Test, and on both occasions, Gavaskar was the major factor. Agains the
West Indies in Port of Spain in 1975-6, Gavaskar scored 102 to set his side
on the way to 406-4, the highest score ever made to win a test. And at the
Oval in 1979 he hit a magnificent 221 as India chased 438. They fell a few
runs short of improving their record, but drew the match.
The best innings I ever saw him play was his 96 at Bangalore, in what turned
out to be his final test. It was one of the most difficult pitches I have
ever seen - the ball was turning square, bouncing awkwardly and sometimes
keeping low. Pakistan were bowled out for 116 in their first innings, after
which India made 145. Thanks to gritty play by our tail enders, we set India
221 to win, and Gavaskar played an incredible innings. Both teams knew that
the match would be over if Gavaskar was out, which was what eventually
happened: Iqbal Qasim had him caught, just four short of what would have
been his thirty-fifth Test century.
He is the master of an unusual shot: a type of late flick which he plays
with great control between square leg and midwicket, I have never seen
any other batsman play this shot with such precision. It brings him a lot
of runs, which is one reason why he can keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Although he has had to cut out a lot of his more risky shots in the team's
interest, he can be brilliant when he lets himself go, and I have seen him
outscore stroke makers like Srikkanth on occasions.
I batted with him for a long time during the MCC bicentennial match at Lord's
in 1987. He scored 188, I made 82, and we put on 180 for the fifth wicket.
I found it a revelation to see how he tackled certain bowlers, and how he
understood the game. He is a master, and I am afraid that Indian cricket will
struggle to replace him adequately.
Another Indian batsman whom I rate very highly is Mohinder Amarnath. He
seems to be something of an enigma: I have rarely seen such a classy batsman,
yet he has been in and out of the Indian test team. He has suffered some
severe head injuries against the fast bowlers, but keeps coming back. As
far as I'm concerned, he should have been playing for India non-stop since
his debut in 1969.
He ducked into a bouncer in 1978-9, yet he came back and played reasonably
well in the second innings. In the next test he played some incredible shots,
and showed no sign of any ill effects from the blow on the head. He really
hammered the West Indies in 1982-3, scoring 58 and 117 at Port of Spain,
54 and 116 at Antigua and 91 and 80 at Bridgetown. While making his 80, he
was hit on the face early on by Malcolm Marshall, yet he came back and
continued his innings. I spoke to Marshall about it, and he said he could'nt
believe the shots Amarnath played after being hit. Yet, the following year,
the West Indies toured India, and Amarnath could'nt get a run. In three
tests, he scored 1, and five noughts, which included two 'pairs'! But he
still comes back, and after missing the 1987 World Cup, he was brought back
by India to face the West Indies again. Had I been his captain I would
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