DateLine: 25th August 2006
Wasim Raja former Test Cricketer a brilliant all-rounder of 1970 - 80's died of heart attack on August 23, 2006 in London. He was born in Multan on July 3rd 1952. The left handed stylish batsman who bowled right arm leg breaks had made his debut against Newzealand at Wellington in 1972 - 73. Earlier he had made first class debut for Lahore in Ayub Trophy in 1967-68 and had captained Pakistan under - 19 in the three match home series against the Surrey - Middlesex school boys in 1968-69, he had also represented Punjab University. During his prime his breathtaking stroke play was a treat to watch. His career's most out standing performance was on the tour of West Indies in 1976-77 where he topped tourists batting averages (57.44) scoring 517 runs including a brilliant unbeaten hundred 117 Not Out and other principal scores of 71,65,84,70 and 64. It was to his great credit that he was dominant over the world's most lethal attack of those days comprising of Andy Roberts, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Holder in that series.
Raja also topped Pakistanís batting averages (56.25) in India on 1979-80 tour compiling 450 runs with the help of four half centuries including two 90's (97 and 94 Not Out). On his second trip to that country in 1983-84 he averaged 60 and it was during this tour that in the second test at Jullundar he earned the Man of the Match award on scoring 125 and claiming 4 for 50-both his career best performances. After his sedate 53 at Lords in 1974, his first fifty in test cricket he notched up his first century in the next series at Karachi against the West Indies in 1974-75. He remained always outstanding against West-Indies and anchored Pakistan's second innings to safety with an unbeaten 77 out of their of score of 204 for 9 at Karachi in 1979-80.
In all he scored four centuries (107 Not Out & 117 Not Out V/S West Indies, 125 V/S India and 112 V/S England) and 18 half centuries (7 V/S West-Indies 5 V/S India, 3 V/S New Zealand, 2 V/S Australia and 1 V/S England).
In a career spanning from 1972 - 73 to 1984 - 85 he appeared in 57 tests scoring 2821 run (Average 36.16), claimed 51 wickets (Average 35.80) and held 20 catches. He was also part of Pakistan team in first three World Cups (1975, 1979 and 1983) and in all appeared in 54 one-day internationals. Later he also served International Cricket by supervising 15 Tests as ICC match referee.
He was elder brother of Rameez Raja a former test cricketer and now a famous T.V cricket commentator. His father Raja Saleem Akhtar had also played first class cricket.
Alas ! Pakistan cricket has lost its great servant and a great entertainer.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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