Last week, Abdul Razzaq hung up his boots, put away his kit and walked away from the sport after leading Pakistan Blind cricket team for a decade.
He captained the side to two World Cup titles and 13 consecutive series-wins. His influence in the side could be judged from the fact that just before his retirement, he was unable to take part in two series. Pakistan lost both. But his retirement – the end of a golden era – hardly made news despite a successful, and record-breaking, career.
The 40-year old made his international debut in 1998, becoming the national captain four years later. But it was the partially blind cricketer’s love for the game that drove him to the ground aged 11.
“I took inspiration from listening to the commentary on radio,” said Razzaq. “I used to be glued to the radio, waiting to hear how our legends like Javed Miandad performed out there in the middle. Just listening to how he’d unleash his strokes made me want to perform for my country as well.
“Needless to say, I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved.”
The father of three holds a Masters degree in History from the Punjab University and, following his retirement, will now work as a teacher. Maybe there his true worth will be realised, hopes one for his efforts on the cricket field went largely unnoticed.
Razzaq did not complain much on not being acknowledged for his services but he did request the authorities for assistance.
“I don’t have many opportunities now. As a contracted player, I used to get Rs12,000 and for every match I’d play, I was paid Rs2,000. I won’t even be getting that anymore. I didn’t want to stop playing so soon but my aggravating foot injury forced me to call it a day.”
He might have called curtains to his playing days, but Razzaq wants to remain associated with the sport.
“I want to form an academy for blind cricketers and I’ve requested Punjab government to provide me with a ground. We can find immense talent in blind cricketers. The involvement in sports helps distract disabled people who have lost confidence in themselves for obvious reasons. This gives me the will to carry on, to fight the doubters and stand up to be counted.
“I advise all such people not to lose hope and search for strength within themselves. If you lack one sense, God has given you other senses and I’m sure you’ll be compensated fairly once you explore them”
Razzaq was not expected to get a heroes’ farewell, one that would usually be associated with retirements of superstars like Shoaib Akhtar and Sachin Tendulkar, but it was sad to see legend of the sport bid farewell to cricket in front of a few officials from the Pakistan’s Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) and local journalists in Lahore. There was not much action from the game’s governing body in the country.
Razzaq was honoured with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz but the award, according to the former captain, did not guarantee him and his family three meals a day.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.
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