Book Review: Summing up Javed Miandad
by Anwar Kemal

Player:Javed Miandad

DateLine: 17th December 2004


Excerpt of a Review of the book, 'Cutting Edge: My Autobiography' by Javed Miandad (with Saad Shafqaat) (OUP, Oxford, 2003), 344 pp.


Miandad's autobiography is perhaps the most candid ever by a great batsman. He shares his innermost thoughts with the reader. He does not conceal anything, whether it is his disdain for the Oxbridge crowd (read Imran) or his scathing criticism of the arrogant attitude of England's teams visiting Pakistan. We also learn a lot a about his character. The impression he makes on the reader is on the whole positive. That Miandad was one of the most talented cricketers of his time is not open to question. He was at the forefront in first–class cricket, Test cricket and one-day internationals. He was one of the most formidable batsmen of his time - a match-winner - one who could turn the tide. He admits that he was controversial; in fact he is proud of it. Apart from his superb batting skills, the most remarkable thing about Miandad was his determination to win; he always fought to the finish. He was also an astute captain, one who knew the ropes and who could be counted upon to lead the team even when the going got tough.


Miandad considered cricket to be more than a game; he considered it war. So instead of being a player he preferred to be a warrior. Here one could differ with him. One could appreciate his desire always to strive for victory. At the same time one feels a little uneasy about some of the things he pulled off. For example, Miandad's running out of Rodney Hogg in the Melbourne Test during the 1979-80 tour was an embarrassing gaffe, because Hogg had gone out to pat the pitch, so Pakistan's captain Mushtaq Mohammad withdrew the appeal, but the umpires did not agree. Similarly, after being pelted with stones in Sri Lanka, Miandad jumped the fence and chased the culprit into the crowd of spectators.


Controversy involving visiting teams erupted during Miandad's captaincy in England's 1987-88 tour of Pakistan. The notorious Gatting-Shakoor Rana confrontation in the Faisalabad Test soured relations between the two teams, and the Test match was held up for almost a day and a half until Gatting apologized to the umpire (p.249-51). Australia's 1988-89 tour of Pakistan when Miandad was captain was also mired in controversy over the badly prepared pitches and allegations of unfair umpiring. The furore detracted from Pakistan's overall reputation and even the home fans could not savour the 1-0 victory.


If Miandad had been involved in a limited number of controversies, they might have been overlooked. But when there is recurrent pattern of contentious episodes involving several teams and many administrations, then one can justifiably point to a certain excess which proved detrimental to Miandad's career in the long run. Why did the Glamorgan management deny Miandad the opportunity to play when he was one of the most prolific batsmen in the world? (p.117) Did the selectors ask Miandad's colleagues Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Aaqib Javed continuously to bowl bouncers at him during the practice sessions prior to Zimbabwe's 1993 tour of Pakistan in reckless attempt to intimidate him? (p.231).


Was Miandad practically pushed out of Test cricket and one-day internationals when he still had runs in him, apart from his unique tactical skills, largely because he was a difficult player to get along with? If a great cricketer like Miandad is dumped the moment he is past his prime, then it is a cause for reflection.


Perhaps we in Pakistan can learn something from the conduct of the ancient Athenians and one of their mules. Over 2500 years ago, during the construction of the Acropolis, the Athenians noticed that one particular mule, when it was turned loose to rest and feed because it had done its share of labour, raced ahead offering its services while the other mules were pulling the wagons to the Acropolis, as if it would incite and encourage them to exert more vigorously; upon which the Athenians voted that the beast should be kept on the public charge until it died!


More need not be said about Javed Miandad in this review. Let his gripping autobiography speak for itself. It may not have all the answers, but it can help the reader to know more about one of our finest sportsmen, one who brought renown to country and joy to his countless fans.


[Ed]: The complete book review will be published shortly.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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