Pakistan have almost always produced exciting young talent that took the world of cricket by storm
Of the many feats that Pakistan has achieved in the test cricket arena, one of the most prominent ones relates to the young age at which Pakistani cricketers are inducted into Test cricket. This has led to a series of records where Pakistanis rank high among the youngest to achieve many test cricket milestones.
The latest in this series of the ‘youngest ever in Test cricket’ records occurred on February 9 this year. The occasion was the 3rd day of the first Test between Pakistan and Bangladesh in Rawalpindi.
Trailing Pakistan by 212 runs in the first innings, Bangladesh were defending stoutly in their second knock at 124 for 2. The day was meandering to a close as Naseem Shah, the new Pakistan pace sensation, started the 41st over of the innings. It was the fourth ball of the over and facing him was the left-handed Nazmul Hossein Shanto. Naseem bowled a 140 kph delivery that moved into the batsman and struck him on the pad. A loud appeal for lbw was turned down by the umpire Nigel Long. The Pakistani captain Azhar Ali asked for a review which went in Pakistan’s favour and Nazmul had to leave.
In view of the approaching close of play Bangladesh sent in their night watchman Taijul Islam, another left-hander. Naseem’s first delivery to him was angled in and fast at almost 143 kph and Taijul was hit on the pads plumb in front of the wicket. This time Nigel Long had no hesitation in raising the finger.
Next in was the experienced Mahmudullah. With the wind of expectation behind him Naseem charged in and let loose a ball timed at 147 kph. It was full and slightly wide of the off stump and moved away further after pitching. Mahmudullah could not resist the temptation to drive it and got an outside edge which was well taken by Harris Sohail at first slip. The young pacer had got a dream hat-trick in only his fourth Test. He was 16 years and 359 days old; the youngest cricketer ever to take a Test hat-trick.
If we look at the list of the youngest bowlers to take a test hat trick, Pakistan has three of the six youngest to achieve this feat. The six youngest bowlers to take a Test hat-trick are:
Naseem Shah (Pak) Aged 16 years 359 days vs BD, Rawalpindi 2020
Alok Kapali (BD) Aged 19 years 240 days vs Pk, Peshawar 2003
Abdul Razzaq (Pak) Aged 20 years 202 days vs SL, Galle 2000
Harbhajan Singh (Ind) Aged 20 years 251 days vs Aus., Kolkata 2001
Geoff Griffen (SA) Aged 21 years 12 days vs Eng., Lords 1960
Mohammad Sami (Pak) Aged 21 years 13 days vs SL, Lahore 2002
Mohammad Sami got this hat-trick in only the 3rd test of his career. He was the third fastest to do so in terms of tests played. Geoff Griffin obtained the hat-trick in only his second test and three bowlers Maurice Allom of England, Peter Petherick of New Zealand and Damien Fleming of Australia got a hat-trick in their debut Tests.
Another Pakistani to achieve a Test hat-trick was Wasim Akram. In fact Wasim obtained this honor twice within the space of 9 days in March 2002. His opponents on both occasions were Sri Lanka. Wasim is one of only four bowlers who have two Test hat-tricks to their name. Wasim is also the only bowler to get a hat-trick while captaining the side.
Wasim and Sami are also the only bowlers to have obtained hat-tricks in both Tests and ODI’s. Wasim, in fact, has two in each format of the game for a total of four. His two ODI hat tricks were against the West Indies at Sharjah in 1989 and against Australia, also at Sharjah, in 1990.
Sami is the only bowler in the world to have a hat trick in all three formats of the game. Apart from his Test hat-trick he has to his credit an ODI hat-trick against the West Indies in 2002 and three hat tricks in T20 competitions. His T20 hat-tricks, however, are not in international matches but in the Bangladesh Premier League, National T20 competition and Pakistan Super League respectively.
In the short list of youngest hat-trick takers is also the name of the unfortunate Geoff Griffin. This young 21 year old South African fast bowler had an accident in his childhood which left him incapable of fully straightening his right arm (bowling arm).
In the Lords Test against England in 1960, in which he took a hat-trick, he was also called eleven times for throwing by umpire Frank Lee. As the test finished early on the fourth day and a visit from the Queen was scheduled for the afternoon, an exhibition match between the two teams was arranged. In this match too, Griffin, despite bowling at half pace off a short run, was no balled four times by the other match umpire Syd Buller. He finished his over by bowling underarm. Griffin’s career came to a sad end when he retired from the game at the premature age of 23.
Coming back to ‘the youngest ever’ tag, Pakistani bowlers also have this honour in ODI’s and T20’s. In other words in all three formats of the game the youngest bowler to get a hat trick is from Pakistan. While Naseem Shah holds this record in test cricket, in ODI ‘s the youngest bowler to be credited with a hat-trick is Aqib Javed whose hat trick come in the course of his blistering spell of 7 for 37 against India at Sharjah in the final of the Wills Cup in 1991.
Aqib was only 19 years and 81 days old at the time. In T20 cricket the youngest bowler to take a hat-trick is the young emerging Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain who got a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in Lahore in October 2019. Hasnain was 19 years and 183 days old at the time.
It is indeed a unique distinction for Pakistan that across all three formats of the game the youngest hat-trick takers are Pakistani bowlers. We are also the only country which has produced three bowlers who have achieved international cricket hat tricks as teenagers. We have an abundance of natural cricketing talent in the country. Gifted young men emerge with considerable regularity as shining firmaments on the cricketing sky. If their ability is wisely nurtured and developed Pakistan has all the potential to become the foremost cricket playing nation of the world.
The author is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books