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Remembering Zafar Altaf
by Arshad Chughtai


Player:Zafar Altaf
Event:Pakistan in India 1960/61

DateLine: 20th April 2016

Remembering Zafar Altaf

Zafar Altaf
Despite the fact that Dr. Zafar Altaf did not play even a single Test match for Pakistan, his role for the growth of the game in the country had been extremely crucial. He served as Secretary of the Pakistan Cricket Board from 1972-1975, as National Selector in mid-1980’s, Chairman of the Selection Committee from 1994 to 1996 and was Manager of Pakistan team in 1999 World Cup. Zafar Altaf was also Assistant Manager of Pakistan teams on the tours of Australia & New Zealand 1972-73 and in England in 1974. He also had a short stint as PCB Chairman in 1999 before Lt General Tauqir Zia took over.

Interestingly, Zafar Altaf may also be remembered as a surprise choice in the Pakistan team which had toured India in 1960-61. He was preferred over Duncan Sharpe, a middle order batsman from Railways, who had performed so well in the preceding Test series against Australia but it was Zafar Altaf’s brilliant fielding which gave him the edge.

Pakistan Team in India 1960/61
Click picture for details

It is worth mentioning that ‘The Cricketer magazine’s Booklet’ Ambassadors of Goodwill published after Pakistan's 1972-73 tour of Australia and New Zealand presented some exceptional compliments which portrayed Zafar Altaf’s true abilities and potential as a cricketer during his playing days, these comments are reproduced here: “Short-statured and sprightly spring-headed like Gul Mohammad of yester years, Zafar Altaf relished speed and strength. If one wished to assess his real ability as a cricketer one was to have watched him in the field-his chasing the ball at a terrific speed, picking it up and slinging it back to the keeper or the bowler in one rhythmical action. His quick heels brought down many flourishing strokes. But that is not to say that his entire virtues in the game lay in his fielding. His batting had a repertoire of stroke, covers, hooks and all and he played with phlegmatic temperament so unusual for cricketers of his age.”

I had first met Zafar Altaf during a festival match played at Niaz Stadium Hyderabad on return of Pakistan team after the tour of India in March 1961. My next meeting with him was in May 2002 at PC Bhurban where he had arrived to deliver a lecture in PEC Seminar. Incidentally, on the occasion, I had also presented him a copy of press clippings of the Pakistan team’s tour of India in 1960-61, which I had fondly collected in my school days. The clippings included one photo in which he was shown holding the catch of PR Umrigar at first slip while substituting for Fazal Mahmood off the bowling of Mahmood Hussain in the first Test match of the series at Bombay. Unfortunately that remained the only contribution of Dr Zafar Altaf in Test cricket.

Pakistan v India 1960/61 - Bombay (Mumbai) Test
Click picture for details

During that tour of India, Zafar Altaf appeared in eight first-class matches, scored 262 runs at an average of 29.11 with only two 50-plus scores (53 against Baroda and 64 against the Bombay Cricket Association President’s XI ).

Perhaps it may also be quite interesting to mention that on that tour not only Zafar Altaf but three other more senior players namely Shujauddin Butt, Ijaz Butt and Mohammad Munaf had returned without playing a test match. Dr. Mohammad Jehangir Khan was Pakistan team’s Manager.

Right-handed middle order batsman, Zafar Altaf’s first class career spanned over 13 years (1958-59 to 1971-72). He scored 2448 runs (average 32.21) with 4 hundreds and 10 fifties. He took 8 wickets (Average 37.87) and also held 20 catches. He represented Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Pakistan Universities. He scored his highest score 268 in April 1966 in Bagh-i-Jinnah Lahore for Lahore Greens against Bahawalpur in Ayub Trophy. Zafar Altaf’s most successful season was 1967-68, in which he scored 605 runs (Average 37.81). Later he was selected to represent BCCP XI and Pakistan Team against visiting International XI and Commonwealth Team in 1968. Leading North Zone Team he scored 64 no against Commonwealth XI at Peshawar. Born on 1 August 1941 at Agra (India) Dr. Zafar Altaf died in Islamabad on 5 December 2015.

Please click here for his complete Cricket Career Details

Alas! Such a capable cricketer, an able cricket administrator and a distinguished economist of the country has passed away.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2016 smyaserrafique@yahoo.com)
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