Pakistan’s oldest Test cricketer passes away at 88

Israr Ali featured for the country in four Tests during 1952-59 against India and Australia

News Desk February 02, 2016
Israr Ali. PHOTO COURTESY: ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan’s oldest cricketer and all-rounder Israr Ali breathed his last in his hometown of Okara, Punjab on Monday at the age of 88.

Israr was Pakistan’s oldest living test cricketer and featured for the country in four Tests between 1952 and 1959.

The cricketer played 40 first-class games, claiming 114 wickets at an average of 22.63 and scoring 1,130 runs at 20.54.

Israr started off with his career playing for Punjab in 1946-47 even before Partition, and then went to India as part of Pakistan Test side’s 1952-53 tour. During this tour, he featured in two Tests and was then called back to feature against Australia in two Tests during 1959-60.

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During interaction with ESPNcricinfo in 2012, Israr had recalled how he dismissed Australian opener Les Favell in all four innings, without having any assistance from fielders.

Terming fallout with Pakistan captain Abdul Hafeez Kardar as the biggest regret, Israr said it had shortened his international career.

Nonetheless, the sportsman continued involvement with cricket administration and remained a member of Pakistan’s selection committee in 1983-84, before deciding to wave goodbye to cricket.

"I parted from cricket after 1987, maybe because I was losing the passion, and decided to stay back in Okara," Israr had said when he was 85.

Hanif Mohammad recalls his encounter with Israr Ali

Former Test cricketer Hanif Mohammad commended Israr Ali for both his skill and his professional attitude as a cricketer.

“He was a really good left-arm fast bowler,” he said. “He was famous for his inswings with the new ball. Apart from that he was also a good batsman.”

Hanif recalled his time as a player alongside Israr. “I played a couple of international Tests with him as well as a league in Manchester alongside Fazal Mehmood and Haseeb,” added the 81-year-old. “We all used to stay in the same apartment and I never saw him getting angry with anyone or getting into any fight. He was totally focused on cricket.”

The legendary Karachi-based batsman also discussed his last encounter with Israr. “I met him last in a ceremony organised by then-president Pervez Musharraf in honour of the cricketers of Pakistan’s first match,” he said. “He was still the same, talking about cricket.”

The article originally appeared on ESPNcricinfo

(Additional input from Nabil Tahir)

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