Inzamam – The cricketer with a big heart

Amidst his team’s disastrous World Cup campaign, Inzamam has bid adieu to one day cricket. For once, emotions of a different form overpowered the big man as he walked back to the pavilion after giving away his wicket in his last world cup stint against Zimbabwe. Many of his fans may feel that the time is just ripe for his decision though it was announced by him in an untimely manner and unceremoniously.

I have been a big fan of couple of Pakistani cricketers from the past. The names included Wasim Akram and Imran Khan – probably there were better cricketers from that country before I started following my cricket. No matter what, Inzamam-ul-Haq figured right there along with the other two as one of the all-time greats that Pakistan has ever produced. More than that, I feel that Inzamam is in the same league as Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Jaques Kallis who are todays accomplished match-winning test & oneday batsmen. I said, ‘match-winning’ batsmen and hence sorry, I could not include Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar in this list!

Inzamam has been the centre pillar of Pakistan’s batting line-up – and hence improved success rates – for almost 10 years now. Though he was not a natural choice for the captain’s role, it was somehow entrusted with him after Pakistan’s yet another first round failure in the last world cup. The captaincy as such is the toughest job when it comes to the politically ruined Pakistan cricket – a job that only probably Imran Khan has done wonderfully. Despite this fact, it was amazing to see how Inzamam commanded respect from his team members, barring one or two of them, and his opponent teams.

His body language, the ever present chewing gum and lazy grinding of the same may not have complemented his colossal figure well. But underneath that he possessed seamless cricketing brains that fearlessly approached each and every match with appropriately paced aggression. Many people forgot to give the credit that was due for hime mainly because of this sedate outlook. This is exactly the first thing that made him fall prey for his critics even within Pakistan. There were couple of behavioral issues with him in the past including him attacking the toronto crowd during the 1997 series. He had calmed down and matured since then but there were many Inzamam-like incidents that followed him even during his captaincy – whether it is walking off the field with his team alleged of ball tampering or blocking the fielders from throwing the ball to stumps. Despite these he still towers tall as one of the finest batsmen in the world cricket today

If you consider the last three years of his ODI career, there were a couple of things he could have done to maximize his throughput. Especially in this World Cup, I thought Inzamam (for that matter even Rahul Dravid for India) could have batted higher in the order to save his shaky ship. Also, it didn’t look like he had a proper plan for this World cup. Probably he could have already handed over the responsibility to Younis Khan and concentrated on his batting for some more time. The lack of motivation to continue in the game was very much visible in the past two three matches. Also, he did not exactly succeed in managing and being rightly assertive about the behavioral issues of some of his team members like Shoaib Akhtar, where as he has been alleged to be too adamant about his ideas and team selection.

Inzamam is a true selfless cricketer of his times – I do not want to narrate examples reasoning the same nor do I want to talk about his best ever innings. I thought, if he was more ambitious like Ponting or Tendulkar he could have amassed huge records given that kind of talent. This is exactly the key takeaway from Inzamam’s cricketing life. Though he may play some more test cricket, I feel that it may not last for more than six months. But he will for sure be considered as one of Pakistan’s brave sons.

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