Former Pakistan spinner Abdul Qadir, credited for reviving the art of leg-spin bowling in the 1970s and 80s, died of a heart attack in his hometown Lahore, his son told AFP on Friday. “My father never had a heart problem so it was sudden and shocking that he suffered a severe attack and could not survive,” Salman Qadir told AFP.
Qadir, who would have turned 64 on September 15, was one of the favourites of former captain Imran Khan -- now Pakistan’s prime minister. Qadir made his Test debut against England in Lahore in 1977 and went on to play 67 Tests, taking 236 wickets with a best of 9-56 against the same side in 1987. Those figures are still the best by a Pakistan bowler in a Test innings.
He also took 132 wickets in 104 one-day internationals, with Imran using him as an attacking weapon in the 1983 World Cup held in England. He played the last of his international matches in 1993. Qadir’s unique dancing action was as attractive as it was destructive, spinning the ball prodigiously and he had a lethal googly and a flipper.
Legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne -- the second-highest Test wicket taker with 708 (only behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan’s 800) -- was also a big fan of Qadir. “I am sad to hear about Qadir’s death,” Khan said. “With his death I have lost a close friend and a team-mate and that’s hurtful. “Qadir brightened Pakistan’s name in cricket the world over and we will always remember (him) as a great player.”
Former Pakistan captains Wasim Akram, Moin Khan, Rashid Latif and Waqar Younis led the condolences, saying Qadir’s death was “a great loss of Pakistan cricket”. “We have lost a great man who was an institution in himself,” said Wasim who played alongside Qadir in the 1980s. Qadir was particularly dominating against England’s batsmen in the 1987 home series, claiming a Pakistan record of 30 wickets in three Tests.
Qadir also served as chief selector of Pakistan and was running a private academy in Lahore. His four sons, Rehman, Imran, Sulaman and Usman, all played first-class cricket while his daughter Noor is married to Pakistan international Umar Akmal.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan too remembered Qadir, calling him a genius “Abdul Qadir was a genius, one of the greatest leg spinners of all time,” Khan tweeted, as fans all over Pakistan mourned the player’s death.
“And he was also the life of the dressing room entertaining the team with his wit & humour”.
“Qadir’s bowling statistics do not do justice to his genius,” said Khan.
“Had he been playing cricket now with the modern DRS system, where batsmen can be given out on the front foot as well, Qadir would have gotten as many wickets as the great Shane Warne”.