Anil Dalpat blamed his former captain Imran Khan for destroying his career but didn’t mention the fact that the same captain stood for him when there were many others in line for the spot
In the last two weeks, we discussed batsmen and bowlers who came, who performed and who left before fulfilling their potential. This week we discuss wicket-keepers who managed to represent Pakistan at the highest level but couldn’t keep their places for one reason or the other. Some were good batsmen but lacked keeping skills while some were born in the wrong era. Let’s take a look at five such players who could have had a bright future had they performed regularly rather than occasionally.
Appearances: 8 matches
(6 Tests, 2 ODIs)
Record: 9 Dismissals in Tests, 2 in ODIs
Taslim Arif had a glorious career with the bat; he scored 90 runs on his Test debut against India in 1979-80, and followed it with scores of 46 and 58 in the next two innings. It was his fifth innings of 210 not out against Australia that made him enter the record books as the wicket-keeper batsman with the highest score in Tests, a record he held for 20 years. With an average of nearly 63 after just 6 Tests in which he scored 501 runs, he was dumped because he was primarily in the team as a wicket-keeper who could bat, and Wasim Bari was a much superior glovesman. They played one Test together — Taslim’s debut Test. Taslim played his next five as the wicket-keeper, eventually losing out as a gloveman rather than as batsman.
Appearances: 24 matches (9 Tests, 15 ODIs)
Record: 25 Dismissals in Tests, 15 in ODIs
From 1984 to 1986, Pakistan tried many wicket-keepers as Wasim Bari’s successor and Anil Dalpat was one of them. He was the first Hindu to represent Pakistan at the highest level and was initially dubbed a success as he featured in a few victories. However, as soon as his performance graph went down, he was replaced with Saleem Yousuf who went on to represent Pakistan for four more years with distinction, thus ending Dalpat’s career as an international cricketer. He blamed his former captain Imran Khan for destroying his career but didn’t mention the fact that the same captain stood for him when there were many others in line for the spot.
Appearances: 4 matches
(1 Test, 3 ODIs)
Record: 5 Dismissals in Tests, 4 in ODIs
Atiq uz Zaman’s biggest misfortune was playing cricket in the same era as Moin Khan and Rashid Latif. That’s why he was unable to play more than four matches for Pakistan, as Moin and Rashid were available till 2004 when Kamran Akmal arrived. Behind the wickets, he was good enough but in front of the wicket he was not as good as his predecessors. Had he managed to score a few more runs on his Test debut, things would have been different as he was steering his side towards what would have been a memorable win.
Appearances: 8 matches
(1 Test, 4 ODIs, 3 T20I)
Record: 2 Dismissals in Test, 2 in ODIs, 1 in T20I
Ever heard of a person who sabotages his career and then blames others for his decisions. That’s Zulqarnain Haider for you who had a successful career ahead of him as Pakistan’s sole wicket-keeper but left the team and went to the United Kingdom to seek asylum. He wasn’t successful in that but what he was successful at was scoring runs and winning matches, at least once in his five outings. When he was given preference over the bungling Kamran Akmal in England during the 2010 series, he scored 88 runs in his debut Test and performed better behind the wickets with an injured finger than a fully-fit Kamran Akmal would have done. He was rewarded with selection for the series against South Africa where, in the fourth match, he hit the winnings runs, only to disclose later that he and his family had received death threats after the victory.
Appearances: 10 matches
(2 Tests, 7 ODIs, 1 T20I)
Record: 3 Dismissals in Tests, 10 in ODIs, 2 in T20I
And then there was Mohammad Salman, the youngster from Karachi who represented Pakistan in all 3 formats but couldn’t make it beyond his 10 appearances. He made his international debut in a match in which Kamran Akmal played as a specialist batsman (good idea!) and even impressed with his glove work behind the wickets. However, the experiment failed as Akmal brothers (Adnan, Kamran, and Umar) shared the wicket-keeping duties for the next few years until the emergence of Sarfraz Ahmed, who started the tradition of holding on to catches, instead of dropping them.