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Opinion

A royal cricket team

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Roar Guru
8th July, 2020
3

Some readers might get the false impression from the title that this article is about those great princes and Nawabs from yesteryear who had served Indian cricket in its early days with some distinction.

Instead, this article is about players with a regal surname like King, Shah, Raja and others. I will start with a Raja from Pakistan.

Ramiz Raja (Pakistan)
A stylish right-handed opener, Ramiz was a fine driver of the ball especially thorough the mid-on region. But his overall Test average of 32 from 57 Tests with just two hundreds is disappointing. His tendency to prefer the onside often made him vulnerable to the away-going deliveries.

Nevertheless, he remained a vital part Pakistan’s golden era in the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s. He scored two hundreds as Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992.

Ali Hassimshah Omarshah (Zimbabwe)
Commonly known as Ali Shah, he was a useful all-rounder: a left-hand bat and a right-arm medium pacer. He played three Tests for Zimbabwe apart from participating in three World Cups.

Like a few other Zimbabwe cricketers of his time, his best memories came at Trent Bridge in 1983 against Australia as Zimbabwe, making their ODI debut, upset the mighty Aussies. Ali Shah took 57 balls to score just 16 runs before becoming a victim of the famous Lillee-Marsh combination, but the 55-run opening stand between him and Grant Paterson gave the Africans a solid start to build on.

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Owais Shah (England)
Karachi-born Owais promised much while scoring 88 and 38 in his debut Test at Mumbai in 2006, as England registered a comprehensive victory. But his contributions with the bat gradually declined and he finished his six-Test career with an average of 26. He didn’t enjoy much success in ODIs either, despite getting enough opportunities.

Rahmat Shah (Afghanistan)
He averages 37 with the bat in his short Test career so far, and he has already made vital contributions with the bat in Afghan wins against Ireland and Bangladesh in Tests. His only Test hundred, 102 at Chittagong against the Tigers, laid the foundations of a famous win.

Ashwell Prince (South Africa)
Prince from Port Elizabeth befitted from the quota system to get his chance in the Proteas team initially, but at the end he fully justified his place in the team, scoring more than 3500 runs at an average of 41.64.

As a left hander he belonged to the category of Allan Border and Larry Gomes: effective rather than elegant.

Wasim Raja (Pakistan)
Ramiz’s elder brother Wasim was an attractive left-hand bat and occasional leg spinner. He often reserved his best against the mighty Windies. At his best he was a fine stroke maker, but his Test batting record suffered due to his poor conversion rate. He converted only four of his 18 fifties into hundreds. He ended his career with a Test batting average of 36.

Cricket generic

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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Collis King (West Indies)
A hard-hitting middle order bat and a useful medium pacer, King ended up playing just nine Tests for the West Indies mainly because of the abundance of cricketing talent available in the Caribbean Islands from the mid 1970s. After losing his place in the West Indies team in 1980, King, somewhat dejected, joined the rebel South Africa tour.

Nevertheless, for one summer day of 1979, at Lord’s he lived up to his surname and became the king for one day. During his 66-ball 86 in the World Cup final, he treated England’s bowlers just like some club cricketers, and totally dominated his partnership with Viv Richards, forcing the great Richards to play the support role.

Quite remarkably, his final ODI also came at Lord’s in less than a year’s time. His ODI strike rate of 104 over 18 matches was way ahead of his time.

Ollie Pope (England)
Unable to find a wicketkeeper with a suitable surname, I have gone for the young Surrey keeper. Given that during the medieval days many monarchs of Europe worked under the Pope at least on paper, his place here is not totally out of place.

Also, he would be a big help in the coronation of the skippers as well as in officially welcoming new members to the team. In his seven Tests so far, Pope has already impressed with the bat, scoring one hundred and three fifties.

Bart King (USA)
Sir Don Bradman described him as America’s greatest cricketing son. And he will always remain so unless there is a massive change in the sporting culture among the Yanks. Born in Philadelphia, he mostly represented the so-called Gentlemen of Philadelphia team in top-level cricket.

He was among the early experts in the art of swing bowling and he troubled many top batsmen of his time with this weapon. He averaged 15.65 with the ball in his 65 first-class matches. But although he was quite a capable right-hand bat, his batting average is only 20.

I have picked him as the captain of my team mainly based on his seniority.

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Jahangir Shah Badshah (Bangladesh)
Child of a Bangladeshi father and Iranian mother, Badshah represented a highly successful cricketing family in the 1980s. While a number of his brothers and cousins also played cricket at both club and international level, he was without doubt the biggest star.

He made his Tigers debut in 1978 and remained an integral part of the national team until 1990. A right-arm medium pacer, he was a special favourite of the Dhaka crowd.

At Dhaka, he normally bowled from the Paltan End, with the north-western breeze helping his out-swingers perfectly. But like many other natural swing bowlers, he was at his best in English conditions.

He was also a capable right-hand bat and often made vital contribution with the bat down the order.

He represented Bangladesh in three ICC trophy events as well as in five ODIs. At Moratuwa in 1986, he became the first Bangladeshi to take an ODI wicket, trapping Mohsin Khan plumb LBW.

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He was also a competent footballer and played most of his club football with Abahani KC. A left fullback, his long throw-ins to the opposition penalty box was his special skill.

His brother Nadir Shah was an international umpire.

Naseem Shah (Pakistan)
The umpteenth teen prodigy to come from Pakistan, Naseem struggled a bit in his first two Tests. But since then he has fought back well with impressive performances against Sri Lanka in Karachi and against Bangladesh at Rawalpindi.

He is a member of the Pakistan team now touring England.

12th man: Nick Knight (England)
After all, not everyone can carry the drinks for the Kings and the Shahs.

Umpiring panel: Albert King (South Africa), Christopher King (NZ), John King (England), Leonard King (Australia), Mahboob Shah (Pakistan) and Nadir Shah (Bangladesh).