The original ‘little master’ of cricket, Hanif Mohammad who played the longest innings in Test cricket, died at the age of 81 on Thrusday. He had been taking treatment in Karachi’s Aga Khan Hospital for respiratory complications from his lung cancer. He was shifted to the ICU and placed on a ventilator, late on August 8. Hanif was diagnosed cancer in 2013, for which he received treatment in London.
He played for the Pakistani cricket team in 55 Test matches between 1952–53 and 1969–70 and he scored 3915 runs at an average of 43.98, with twelve hundreds. Hanif was renowned for his immaculate defensive technique. In his obituary by ESPNcricinfo, he was honoured as the original Little Master, a title later assumed by Sunny Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.
His best was an epic 337 as Pakistan saved the Barbados Test in 1958 while following on. It was the longest first-class innings then. At 970 minutes, it is still the longest Test innings.
Imtiaz Ahmed (88) and Waqar Hasan (83) are the only two survivors from that team.
Hanif also held the record for the highest first-class score, 499 which he made for Karachi against Bahawalpur in 1959. The record stood for 35 years before Brian Lara surpassed the record by scoring 501 for Warwickshire against Durham.
Hanif was born on 21 December 1934 in Junagadh in the Indian state of Gujarat. He and his four brothers moved to Pakistan after partition; four of the five brothers played Tests while Raees, the fifth, was a 12th man once. At least one of the Mohammad brothers played in Pakistan’s first 101 Tests. Hanif’s son Shoaib played 45 Tests and grandson Shehzar 30 first-class matches. In 2010, a Cricinfo jury chose Hanif as the opener alongside Saeed Anwar in the all-time Pakistan Test XI.
Hanif was trained by an Afghan cricket player, Abdul Aziz, who had earlier played in Ranji Trophy for Jamnagar and father of Indian cricketer, Salim Durani.
After retiring as an international cricketer, Hanif co-founded the magazine The Cricketer Pakistan in 1972, which he edited for two decades. He also served as the manager of the formidable Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) team, which won the domestic one-day tournament, Wills Cup, three years in a row in the 1980s.
ICC’s chief executive David Richardson said, “His contribution to the game has been enormous and one can only imagine the kind of impact his batting had on others over the years. Hanif’s triple-century against the West Indies was a legendary innings and unsurprisingly he was one of the original inductees into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.”
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan said, “His sublime technical skill, his unflappable temperament and his resolve and staying power in all conditions were most remarkable and won plaudits for him and for Pakistan,”