Imran Khan, the best all-rounder of his era
The era of late 70’s and 80’s have seen some of the greatest all-rounders. It can be a very big debate as to who was the best all-rounder of the era. The best of them were Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee, and Ian Botham.
A world cup winning captain who led the side for 10 years from 1982 to 1992, and became the greatest cricketer Pakistan has ever produced. Imran made his test debut against England in 1971 at Birmingham. Imran easily stands out statistically.
He played 88 test matches, took 362 wickets at an average of 22, and scored 3807 runs at an average of 37 with 6 centuries. His ODI record is pretty impressive. He made his ODI debut in 1974 against England at Nottingham. He gathered 3709 runs with the bat at an average of 33. As a bowler, he hasn’t done badly, by taking 182 wickets at an average of 26, in 175 matches.
Captaincy brought the best out of Imran. He played 48 matches as a captain, scoring 2408 runs at an average of 52, and taking 187 wickets at an average of 20. He took part in 26 victories and in the matches his team won, he scored 900 runs at an average of 36 with a single century, and has taken 155 wickets at an average of 14 with 11 five wicket hauls.
Away from home he has played 50 test matches. In matches away he scored 2267 runs at an average of 33 with 3 centuries, and took 199 wickets at an average of 25 with 13 five wicket hauls.
Imran’s performance against the best team of his era, West Indies has been superb. He played 18 test matches against them. In those 18 matches he cracked 775 runs at an average of 27 with one century. He really preserved his best with the ball against them. He made 80 strikes against them at an average of 21 with 6 five wicket hauls. As a captain he played 3 test series against the West Indies. He drew all three of the matches.
Pakistan’s first test victory in Australia came in 1977, in Sydney. Imran took match figures of 12/165. Pakistan is the only team except South Africa to have white washed Australia in test cricket. It was done under Imran’s captaincy in 1982 by beating Kim Hughes Australian team 3-0. He wasn’t needed with the bat, but he took 13 wickets in 3 matches at an average of just 13. His best performance with the bat came against Australia, in Adelaide where he scored a match saving 136 in 1990. Imran’s best performance with the ball 8/58 came against Sri Lanka at home in 1982.
As an all-rounder, Imran’s best series came against India at home in 1982/83. In a 6 test match series, he scored 247 runs at an average of 61, and took an amazing tally of 40 wickets at an average of 13; Pakistan beat India by a 3-0 margin. During the series, Imran suffered a stress fracture, which meant that he could not bowl a single delivery in test cricket, for 3 years.
Pakistan won their first ever test series in England and India, under the captaincy of Imran in 1987. In the series against India Imran blossomed with the bat, amassing 324 runs in 5 matches at an average of 64. His bowling wasn’t quite up there due to injuries. He only took 8 wickets at an average of 49. The first series win in England earned him the man of the series award. He gathered 191 runs in 5 matches at an average of 47, and took 21 wickets at an average of 21.
His ODIs victories as a captain are special. The 1992 world cup where he ordered his troops to fight like cornered tigers when they were down and out. Pakistan was almost out of the tournament once, but went on to win the world cup. He has always led from the front. In the 1992 world cup Pakistan were struggling with their number 3 position. He promoted himself at the number 3 position.
In the semi finals he made a fighting 44 to stabilize the innings, and a match winning 72 runs off 110 balls. He also took some crucial wickets including the last one in the final. Famous victories in Nehru cup final against the West Indies, and Austral-Asia cup final against India are the hallmarks of his captaincy. His best performance with ball, in the ODIs came in Sharjah in 1985, where he bamboozled the strong Indian Batting Line-up by taking 6/14. His best performance with the bat, in ODIs came against Sri Lanka, he scored an unbeaten 102.