Karachi: Hanif Mohammad, the original ‘Little Master’ who played the longest innings in Test cricket, has died at the age of 81. He had been undergoing treatment for respiratory complications from his lung cancer in Karachi’s Aga Khan hospital. Late on August 8, he was shifted to the ICU and placed on a ventilator. Hanif was diagnosed with the cancer in 2013, for which he received treatment in London.
Hanif played 55 Tests, including Pakistan’s first. Imtiaz Ahmed, 88, and Waqar Hasan, 83, are the only two survivors from that team. Hanif was renowned for his immaculate defensive technique. He scored 3915 runs at an average of 43.98. 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.
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 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.
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 paid tribute to Hanif, pointing to the impact that his triple-century against West Indies had. “It’s sad to hear of Hanif’s death and I’d like to extend my condolences and those of everyone here at the ICC to Hanif’s family, which counts so many cricketers in its number,” Richardson said in a press statement. “Hanif took batting to great heights and many batsmen drew inspiration from him.
“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.”