Waqar Hasan, last surviving member of first Pak cricket team, passes away

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KARACHI: Waqar Hasan, the last surviving member of Pakistan’s inaugural Test team, which played India in Delhi in October 1952, has passed away in Karachi on Monday (Feb 10) at the age of 87.

A middle-order batsman, Waqar’s first outing in Test cricket wasn’t too auspicious, as he scored 8 and 5 in an innings defeat, but he ended the five-Test series as Pakistan’s highest run-maker, with 357 runs at an average of 44.62, including three half-centuries. Waqar went on to play 21 Test matches during the course of a first-class career that spanned more than a decade and a half, from 1948-49 to 1965-66.

He finished with 1071 runs in 35 Test innings, an average of 31.50, and hit a century and six half-centuries. His first-class average was 35.64.

Not keeping well for the past few years and being confined to bed, Waqar passed away peacefully at his home in Hill Park locality of the PECHS early in the morning, according to his family. A noted businessman, the late Waqar owned a leading food company which is being currently run by his only son Abrar.

Waqar, who is also survived by his wife Jamila Razzaq, a well known film star of yesteryear, and two daughters, was widely respected in the cricketing circles throughout his life for his cultured, sophisticated personality after he quit playing the game at the first-class level in 1965-66 where he represented Karachi, Lahore and PIA.

According to a report by Khalid H. Khan for Dawn newspaper, Waqar had the distinction of playing alongside icons of Pakistan cricket such as Hanif Mohammad, Fazal Mahmood, Imtiaz Ahmed and Khan Mohammad under the captaincy of Abdul Hafeez Kardar during his Test career.

Born in the Indian city of Amritsar on Sept 12, 1932, Waqar made his first-class debut at the tender age of 17 and went to play in 99 matches from 1949 until 1966 in the format — a tally which includes 21 Tests between 1952 and November 1959 — while scoring 4,841 runs at an average of 35.64 with the help of eight centuries and 27 half-centuries with a highest score of 201 not out for the L.W. Cannon’s XI against the Hasan Mahmood’s XI at the famous KGA Ground in Karachi in October 1953.

At the Test match level, Waqar made just one century — 189 against New Zealand at Lahore in 1955-56 — besides scoring six half-centuries.

Waqar’s younger brother Pervez Sajjad also represented Pakistan in 19 Tests between 1964 and 1973. A slow left-armer, Pervez, who is now 77, claimed 59 wickets in the highest form of cricket. Waqar later served as the chairman of PCB national selection committee.

Former Pakistan opener Sadiq Mohammad described Waqar as a thorough gentleman and great philanthropist who always stood by the downtrodden.

“He was a great human-being who always cared for others. To me he was one of the two last living legends of Pakistan cricket. The other is my eldest brother Wazir

,” the 75-year-old Sadiq told Dawn. “Waqar was a very stylish and eye-pleasing batsman. I used to simply love him bat all day because it was like watching an artist at work. Mind you in those days batting was never easy because of the back-foot no-ball ruling.

“Moreover, money was never an issue for him later in his life because he used to be the first to come forward and sponsored many sporting events such as athletics, table tennis and badminton. My heartfelt condolences are with his family.”

Waqar’s Namaz-i-Janaza was held on Tuesday (Feb 11) after Zuhr prayers at Masjid-e-Saheem (Khayaban-e-Rahat, DHA Phase VI), followed by burial at the DHA Phase VIII Graveyard.

Condolence

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has expressed its grief and sorrow over the passing of former Test batsman Waqar Hasan.

PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said: “It is a sad day for Pakistan cricket as today we have lost our last hero who put us on the world cricket map in 1952. He was from that elite group cricketers that laid the foundation of what turned into a proud cricket nation.

“I had the privilege of knowing him personally and I have nothing but utmost respect for Waqar.

“Waqar was not only an outstanding cricketer but a thorough gentleman who set very high standards. He was an articulate and smart cricket administrator who contributed in Pakistan with his wisdom and progressive approach and vision. On behalf of the PCB, I offer my deepest condolences to Waqar Hasan’s family and friends, and assure them that Waqar will always be remembered for the immense contribution he made to Pakistan cricket.”