Friday, December 9, 2022

ICC: A Letter to Abdul, by Usman Qadir

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Following the ICC Hall of Fame announcement on 8 November 2022, open letters have been written to the inductees by those close to them, with their reactions to the news. Here, Usman Qadir writes to his father, Abdul.

To Babajan, 

I am so proud that you are being inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. It is a huge honour and an incredible achievement, and my only regret is that you are not still with us to accept this award. I know how much it meant to you to play for Pakistan, and I know how much you meant to every cricket fan in our country. 

I speak for the family, for Rehman, Imran and Suleman, Noor Fatima and Noor Amna, and of course our mother who cherished you. It is a great honour for the family to hear that you are being celebrated in this way, and we are so proud of everything you achieved on the cricket pitch. 

But for us, the pride stretches far beyond your cricketing exploits. We are grateful for the way you raised us, the way you taught us to speak, to be humble and to be nice to everyone around us. 

It was such a shock when you passed away. The moment you left us we began to truly understand everything you had taught us about life. You were a great father, a great husband, and a great friend. You always encouraged us in everything we did, and I still remember and admire your unwavering positivity.

The times we went out for dinner together it was clear to see the legacy you left among cricket fans and people in general in Pakistan. The way you were with people was the best lesson I received in how to be humble, and how to always be there for people when they needed it. 

To cricket fans everywhere, you were the person who kept leg-spin bowling alive in the 1970s and 1980s, and while I was too young to watch you play in your prime, your influence has always been there. 

You taught me a lot about cricket. I’m still very emotional that you are not here with us anymore. After all, you are the reason that I played internationally for Pakistan. When Justin Langer came to me and asked me to fly to Brisbane to bowl in the nets in front of him, it looked as though my international future might lie with Australia. But you told me how much you wanted me to play for Pakistan, how much it would mean for you to see me with the star on my jersey. 

I did get selected in October 2019, the same day we welcomed my daughter into the world. Sadly you passed away a month earlier, but I know how proud you would have been to see me play for Pakistan.

And yet, there were times when you were not happy with me. One of the stories I will always remember will be that when I was 15 I wanted to go to Pakistan trials and you insisted I was not ready, since I had only played cricket with a tennis ball with you up to that point. I snuck out and went anyway against your advice. When I came home, you knew where I had been and spent half an hour shouting at me to tell me I wasn’t ready. As soon as you let me tell you that I had been picked – and confirmed it with the selectors – you sat me down and started planning what fields I should set for right and left-handed batters. 

I think it was a couple of years earlier that I really understood how great a player you had been, even as someone who had been too young to watch you play international cricket. You played in a veteran’s match against India and signalled to me up by the sightscreen that you were going to take a wicket with your third ball. I recall the batter left the first leg-break, and the second, before you unleashed the wrong ‘un and had him caught at silly mid-on. Watching on from the stands, that was the day I realised God had given you a gift. 

You truly were one of a kind. We share a surname but there is no one like you. I have tried to follow in your footsteps but I can never be you, you are a legend of this sport and in Pakistan.

I am so very honoured that the ICC has recognised everything you achieved. 

Usman

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