PAKISTAN’s opening batsman during the golden era of test cricket Alimuddin died in London last week (July 13). Although his test match average of 25.37 may not look impressive now but when he represented Pakistan in the 1950s, each run scored by a cricketer in test match was considered valuable by the devoted fans.
At that time cricket was not commercialised and there used to be big gaps between the test series, especially for Pakistan.
If a cricketer scored a century in a test match, he would be considered a hero and greatly admired by the public. Unlike the present-day cricketers, those cricketers would not get the opportunity of improvising their batting skills by frequently playing every type of cricket all over the world.
Alimuddin remained an able partner of the living legend Hanif Mohammad in opening the innings for Pakistan, for quite some time. Their entry in the ground would be made more exciting and dramatic for the radio listeners by the ace cricket commentator Omer Qureshi.
Alimuddin had replaced Nazar Mohammad as opening pair with the little master Hanif Mohammad. Nazar had turned out to be a prolific batsman in his short test career comprising just five matches by scoring the first century with 124 runs for Pakistan in the second test at Lucknow during the team’s first tour of India in 1952-53.
Incidentally Nazar was also the first cricketer of Pakistan to face the first ball in the Delhi test. When Nazar became incapacitated to play test cricket after an unfortunate incident, the selectors were in a quandary to decide as to who should replace him. Their worries were over when they selected Alimuddin for this position, who fully justified his selection by being the best batsman on either side in Pakistan’s first home series against India in 1954-55.
Alimuddin played test cricket during a time when cricket was still a gentleman’s game and he himself was the one. Once I asked him for his autograph at the Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore, and he readily obliged.