The original Little Master gets his due

"The general trend amongst youngsters today is to play all fancy and unconventional strokes, which leave them nowhere in Test cricket. They just don't have the patience to stand on the wicket," Hanif Mohammed said, in an interview to Hindustan Times.

AT 74, one surely wouldn't like too many demands on his time. But Hanif Mohammed didn't seem to mind it. He was being escorted around to oblige everyone seeking his attention or wanting to have a word with him, and all this while one didn't notice even a hint of irritation on his face.

 

He went around obliging everyone with utmost patience at the Castrol Asian Cricket Award function, where he was conferred the lifetime achievement award. But then this display of patience is nothing new to the original 'Little Master'; after all it's this patience with which he wore down many ferocious attacks during his playing days, scripting several records against his name - the most famous being the longest innings in Test cricket.

 

He occupied the crease for 970-minutes, scoring 337 against West Indies in 1957-58 to help Pakistan save the match. No wonder then that this epitome of patience and technique is rather worried at the lack of the virtue amongst the modern day batsmen. "The general trend amongst youngsters today is to play all fancy and unconventional strokes, which leave them nowhere in Test cricket. They just don't have the patience to stand on the wicket," he said.

 

The old man, however, isn't against the ODIs and T20 as such; what he wants is just that youngsters should begin their cricketing odyssey with Test cricket in mind. "Youngsters should learn the game the proper way. They should aim to play Test cricket, play lots of first class cricket and this particular progression will stand them in good stead even in the ODIs and T20s as well," he said.

 

"Once you come up the right way, which gives you the required temperament, techniques and strokes, the shorter formats would become too easy to succeed in," said the Little Master. Talking about his unflappable temperament and the correctness of his technique, the master said he followed the instructions of his coach, Master Aziz, to play straight and not worry about runs.

 

"Then I used to hang up the ball to a tree, and practice hitting it straight," he said. The old man made a vehement plea to all the nations not to ignore their heroes and give them their due respect. "It's a great feeling for any sportsman to be remembered and honoured even when he is no longer on the scene," he said.

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