Fazal Mahmood: The Blue Eyed Boy of Pakistan Cricket

Posted on February 24, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, People, Photo of the Day, Sports
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Owais Mughal

Fazal Mahmood writes about the 1954 tour of Pakistan’s cricket team to England:

All the members of Pakistan Cricket team were introduced to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace. When my turn came, the Queen, while shaking hands with me, looked into my eyes and went on to meet the other players. After shaking hands with the last player, the Queen came back to me and said: “You are a Pakistani. How do you have blue eyes while others do not?’ ‘Your Majesty’, the people coming from the northern areas of Pakistan do have blue eyes,’ I told her. The Queen was amused.

Following is one of the memorable portraits of Fazal Mahmood

Fazal Mahmood


Cricket is one of the most popular games in Pakistan and the blue eyed Fazal Mahmood (1927-2005) was definitly one of the finest cricketers of Pakistan. He made a vital contribution to Pakistan cricket in its formative years.Fazal Mahmood played 34 test matches for Pakistan and took 139 wickets for 24.7 runs a piece. His most famous performance was against England at the Oval where he took 12 wickets for 99 runs as Pakistan won their match against England. Scorecard of this match can be seen here. He also took 13 wickets for 114 runs at Karachi when Pakistan won their maiden Test against Australia in October 1956. The scorecard of this match can be seen here. In First Class Cricket, Fazal Mahmood took 466 wickets at an average of 18.96.

Fazal Mahmood played an instrumental role in getting the newly independed Pakistan the Test status. His 6 wickets for 40 runs in an unofficial Test against the 1951-52 MCC tourists helped convince Lord’s of Pakistan’s suitability as a recognized trest match status country.

Following photo was taken on December 2, 1951 at the Karachi Gymkhana Ground. After Pakistan beat MCC, Pakistan’s Governer General Khwaja Nazimuddin (with raised hand in the photo) called Fazal Mahmood (Right in the photo) and Abdul Hafeez Kardar (2nd from the Left in the photo) next to him. He held their hands and said ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ (long live Pakistan). The jubilant 20000 strong Karachi crowd also joined in and soon the whole ground was shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ . The detailed scorecard of this match can be seen here.

Alex Bannister once said about Fazal Mahmood:

“On matting Fazal was often unplayable; on the grass he could be equally devastating. To the casual he might have appeared harmless and just another bowler putting his arm over. But what a guile and consumable skill went into every ball.”

Other than Cricket:

Fazal Mahmood left college with a Master’s degree in Economics and joined the Pakistan Police Service as an Inspector in September 1947. In 1976, he was promoted to Deputy Inspector General of Police. He also authored a well-documented manual entitles ‘Speed with Safety’ to streamline and update the road traffic system in Pakistan. He also wrote two books on religion entitled ‘Urge to Faith’ and ‘talash-i-haq’. He also wrote a book on cricket called ‘Fazal Mahmood and Cricket’ (1955).

References:

(1) Fazal Mahmood’s record at PCB database
(2) Cricinfo database on Fazal Mahmood
(3) From Dawn to Dusk by Fazal Mahmood

34 Comments on “Fazal Mahmood: The Blue Eyed Boy of Pakistan Cricket”

  1. February 24th, 2008 12:00 pm

    u sure he was a cricketer? looks like a model and at the end a role model…:)
    its hard for me to imagine an MA Economics in police who authors several books on worthy topics…..
    thanks for the post.

  2. Kasim Mahmood says:
    February 24th, 2008 12:12 pm

    Thank you for honoring the memory of one of Pakistan’s greatest fast bowlers. He is also the reason why Pakistan was able to beat every test playing country in the first few years of being granted the test status. Beating England, India and West Indies on their turf were no ordinary feats. Most other test playing nations took 30+ years while Pakistan did it within 5 years of becoming a test playing nation. His guile and stamina were unmatched, and along with Hanif and Imtiaz, he played a pivotal role in popularizing cricket among Pakistanis. Hats off to Fazal Mahmood. May Allah bless his soul.

  3. Ed says:
    February 24th, 2008 1:23 pm

    I do not disagree he is worth praise, but to introduce him as The “Blue Eyed Pakistani” caters to the large segment of our society which is obsessed with light skin, silky hair, and blue eyes. That is wrong.

  4. faraz siddiqui says:
    February 24th, 2008 1:50 pm

    I agree with Ed. Our society is obsessed by racialism. Somehow fair color is criteria of beauty in Pakistan. Every ethinic group has its own concept of beauty. Like in USA they always give some representation to black peoples.

    Tell me is Will Smith or Helly Berry are less beautiful then their white counterpart.

    How many models of pakistan are from makrani ethinic group?

  5. Owais Mughal says:
    February 24th, 2008 1:59 pm

    ‘Blue Eyed’ is used in a literal sense only in the 1st paragraph, which is a book excerpt from Fazal’s own autobiography. Even there it is not used as a sign of beauty but as a sign of standing out different. I’ve used it in title as a double-edged sentence which is true both in literal sense as well as a English metaphor because Fazal was indeed a darling cricketer of Pakistan.

    I agree with Ed and Faraz, that physical beauty is not restricted to one attribute only. beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

  6. Owais Mughal says:
    February 24th, 2008 2:28 pm

    Atif
    Yes he was a man of many talents. He was not in police-police but in Traffic police. I don’t know if that is a separate branch or comes under the regular police.

  7. Owais Mughal says:
    February 24th, 2008 2:29 pm

    Kasim Saheb. ameen to your prayers for him.

  8. Indscribe says:
    February 24th, 2008 2:30 pm

    Fazal Mahmood made a lasting impact on the memory of Indian cricket lovers. Of course, Hanif Mohammad was the other great Pakistani batsman.

    Fazal’s tremendous bowling at the Matting Wicket in Lucknow test during the first tour of Pakistan to India, is still remembered.

    When the MCC celebrated its 200 years, a voluminous book of 50 greatest cricketers of all times, was brought out that included both bowlers and batsmen. Fazal Mahmood was selected from Pakistan.I think there was no Indian Test Cricketer, which put us off, though Ranji and Duleepsinhji (who played for England) were included.

  9. jk says:
    February 24th, 2008 4:10 pm

    Ed > He was literally blue eyed and the above post was mentioning an incident that was related to the color of his eyes. I don’t see how that has anything to do with racism.

  10. Eidee Man says:
    February 24th, 2008 9:53 pm

    I thought it was kind of racist as well–but really, what were you expecting from the people who made clubs in your own country and did not let you in….

  11. Tina says:
    February 25th, 2008 9:58 am

    The Queen of England didn’t know that Afghans and Pakistanis have blue eyed people in their populations?

    She didn’t know that? Really? I mean, she was the Empress, the ruler of the subcontinent, for chrissakes!

    BTW asking, hey brown person, why you got blue eyes….would in my family be considered a VERY rude question.

    Didn’t know I had better manners than the Queen of England.

  12. Tina says:
    February 25th, 2008 10:00 am

    The evident racism of the Queen bothers me more than the subliminal unconscious racism of the post.

  13. Adnan Ahmad says:
    February 25th, 2008 10:29 am

    Anjum Niaz of Dawn wrote a fine piece a while ago about her encounter with the Oval test Pakistan team going for that very series on the ship to England. Fazl Mehmood as always got exceptional mention. People who don’t follow cricket need to understand whatever little is mentioned in above post is part of Fazal Mehmood folklore. You can’t mention his name and not talk about the Oval Test or how handsome he was or how blue his eyes were.

    By the way, one interesting thing to add here.. he always followed matches at Qaddafi stadium sitting on a chair by himself near the sightscreen.

  14. Akif Nizam says:
    February 25th, 2008 10:43 am

    For one, some people here need a vacation badly. Secondly, I think the queen probably had the hots for him and that was just an attempt at an ice-breaker.

  15. Tina says:
    February 25th, 2008 10:52 am

    Akif–

    I seriously think the queen was putting him in his place.

    She had to know better than that. Asking someone why their eyes are blue is in the category of inquiries a clueless child might have.

    She was saying, “Are you, you know…one of US? No? Well, how droll!” *titter*

    Was she not? Else why bring it up at all.

    Even, and perhaps especially, the British queen has their notions of racial supremacy to uphold.

    Again I would say, if we think it over, we have to discount harmless curiosity as a motive. If she were from a small village in the rural areas or something it might be different. But she was the Queen, well travelled, well educated, definitely knows better, and never speaks carelessly or without understanding etiquette.

    She wouldn’t violate that etiquette without having a very specific reason for it.

  16. Owais Mughal says:
    February 25th, 2008 11:18 am

    @Adnan Ahmed. About that trip to England in 54, the team travelled by sea from Karachi. Fazal Mahmood writes in his book that to keep fit he used to jog on the ship deck cricling around the cabins. The team also practised cricket on the ship deck by putting nets. They lost quite a few balls to the sea. The book is very interesting. I recommend reading it if you get chance.

  17. MQ says:
    February 25th, 2008 11:31 am

    I think we are being unusually sensitive about the queen’s comment on FM’s eyes. Most likely she was genuinely curious. Don’t forget she was only 25 something in 1954 and did not have that much exposure to Pakistan. And let’s face it, we don’t come across blue eyes so often in Pakistan.

  18. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 25th, 2008 2:23 pm

    A trivia:
    What was Fazal Mahmood’s family, clan or tribal name?
    That might partly explain his having blue eyes? BTW. Having blue eyes simply means that the person genetically lacks certain pigmentation. The process ultimately leads to becoming albino. Although the beauty is in the eyes of beholder, it is also true that in general South Asians regard light skin and blue or green eyes as a measure of beauty. No matter how false that notion may be.

  19. Owais Mughal says:
    February 25th, 2008 8:31 pm

    Fazal Mahmood was born in Lahore in 1927. His forefathers had migrated from Kahkshan (Central Asia) and got settled in Gujrat, Punjab. Fazal’s father moved the family to Lahore.

  20. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 26th, 2008 8:55 am

    Fazal Mahmood’s family name is Khilji. His younger brother, who BTW also had blue eyes, is Civil Engineer and at one time was head of the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore. He went by the name Dr. Masood Khilji. Pakistanis have diversified racial and ethnic backgrounds and that is what makes us all that interesting.

  21. February 26th, 2008 9:15 am

    It is rather sad that the comments took the “blue eyes” turn they did. However, given that most readers here would never have seen Fazal Mahmood play makes it not really surprising.

    Fazal Mahmood was, arguably, amongst the greatest cricketers produced not just by Pakistan but anywhere in the world. His skill as a fast bowler was superb as his record testifies, but in some ways his presence was even more than his skills. Not until Imran Khan reached his peak did one man define and change cricket in Pakistan as did Fazal. Some of those who have seen both Fazal and Imran play insist that Fazal’s mark on Pakistan was deeper.It does not matter if it was, but the point is that we are talking about a cricketer with a very deep impact.

    Certainly, the fact that Pakistan was able to get Test status as quickly as it did was a testimony to A.H. Kardar’s team – some would say the single best Pakistan cricket team ever. The team was an amazing line-up…. Hanif, Imtiaz, Fazal, Merry Max….. but within that line-up and within those early victories – first in Karachi and then at the Oval – it was Fazal Mahmood that rose even higher than the giants (including Hanif Mohammad, the little giant) around him. Maybe, I am a little unfair here because it was the Hanif-Fazal pair that was at the center of powerhouse (just as the Imran-Miandad pair would become the center of another powerhouse later). But my point really is that Fazal Mahmood is much more than his blue eyes … he is one of the very few cricketers anywhere who not only defined the game when he played but without whom teh game (at least in Pakistan) would really not have been the same.

  22. February 26th, 2008 9:17 am

    By the way, UET Lahore folks here would remember Fazal Mahmood’s brother – Prof. Khilji – who was my own professor of Civil Engineering and later became the Vice Chancellor of the Engineering University.

  23. Deeda-i-Beena says:
    February 29th, 2008 9:35 am

    I will keep my comments to Cricket.
    Here is some first hand Cricket Trivia of the Fifties.
    Yes I did play club cricket in those days at the Universal Club Lahore, in the B team or the Young Universal. Q.D. Butt was the “Jaggat Kuptaan” and all these top players would show up after their practice sessions at their respective clubs. He would also write regularly on Cricket in the Pakistan Times and had good advice listened to by all.
    Several big names mentioned actually practiced at Universal. Fazal I think practiced at Ravi Gymkhana at the Minto (now Iqbal) Park. Mian Saeed, Father of Test Cricketer Yawar Saeed was an important personality at the elite Lahore Gymkhana Club, which was the ground where Test Matches were played. Mian Saeed seeing the talent, arranged Fazal to marry his daughter.
    There were other great names and we must remember Khan Mohammad bowling from the other end with Fazal. They would run terror into their opponents spines. Then there was Mehmood Hussain, Shuja, Aslam, Nazar and of course the mastermind and suave Captain Kardar, in addition to the names mentioned by others here. I had the good fortune of interviewing Hafeez Kardar on Radio Pakistan, on the eve of his departure leading the first-ever Pakistan Team to India. The Lucknow Test is history.
    So much on going down the Memory Lane.

  24. Owais Mughal says:
    February 29th, 2008 9:48 am

    Deeda-i-Beena, You are correct that Fazal practised at Ravi Gymkhana.

    By any chance do you know a right-arm fast bowler of 50s by the name Abdul Wahab. His record is here. He played Club cricket in Lahore in 50s and later first class cricket from Karachi.

  25. Deeda-i-Beena says:
    March 1st, 2008 3:27 am

    Owais Mughal:
    Sorry, I have no recollection of the Fast Bowler Abdul Wahab you have mentioned.

  26. April 19th, 2008 6:35 am

    Undoubtedly, Fazal was among the many greats Pakistan has produced. Comparison with Imran Khan or else will be un-fair because both have class and greatness of their own. He will always be remembered as the ‘Oval Hero’.

    God bless his soul.

  27. Jon Ffoth says:
    October 10th, 2008 10:49 am

    Blue eyes only occur naturally among the caucasians of europe. If it occues anywhere else it is due to either admixture with european caucasians or due to albinism. Blue eyes is due to a recessive gene, recently isolated and derived from a single individual from the Baltic region of europe. If you have blue eyes you carry the gene from this particular individual and hence from a european caucasion.

  28. Omar Jamil says:
    December 22nd, 2009 6:28 pm

    Abdul Wahab was rising medium pace bowler from Karachi but all his confidense was shattered when Keith Miller thrashed his bowling in a charity match played in Karachi Gymkhana.Incidentally great Mushtaq Ali came from India to playin thsi game.Miller hit a longest six-the ball landed in Governer General ‘s house.(That was some treat to Wahab’s in swinger.What happened to Wahab?Maybe he left playing cricket.

  29. Owais Mughal says:
    December 23rd, 2009 12:36 am

    Omar Saheb,
    Abdul Wahab is my grand father. He now lives in Lahore. He stopped playing cricket sometimes in the 70s.

  30. Omar Jamil says:
    December 23rd, 2009 7:30 pm

    Owais Mian,glad to know that cricket runs in your blood-hope you have a photo of Keith Miller.

  31. Owais Mughal says:
    December 23rd, 2009 10:42 pm

    Omar saheb. i will :)

    Good to see you stopping by at our pages. What else do you remember about cricketing days of (say) 60s/70s. I’ll be very interested in hearing more. anything. any trivia that you remember., any other ‘dil-chasp waaqea’ ?

  32. Omar Jamil says:
    December 29th, 2009 2:55 am

    Those who loved him very dearly-called him Phajjay.

  33. MEHMOOD HUSSAIN says:
    February 24th, 2011 11:31 am

    LATE FAZAL MEHMOOD, WAS GREAT HERO & LEGEND

    OF PAKISTANS CRICKET FIELD, WE ENJOYED HIS ACTION AND THRILLS, WHEN HE STARTS TO BOWL,

    FAZAL IS A GREAT NAME OF PAKISTANS CRICKET HISTORY,

    MAY ALLAH REST HIS SOUL IN PEACE (AMEEN)

    MEHMOOD HUSSAIN,
    AIRPORT KARACHI-11,
    PAKISTAN.

  34. Ejaz Mian says:
    November 11th, 2011 10:17 pm

    we enjoyed accomplishments of this great hero on radio and saw his pics on the lever brothers calendar and in brylcream ads.
    love to think what media would have made him into if there was tv at that time.
    he was so good looking that it was difficult to look at him for long.

    such people dont come often. the delight of Pakistan–Fazal Mahmood (Sahib)– God Bless him.

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