|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 1954|
DateLine: 30th May 2005
Former Pakistan cricket great Fazal Mahmood, known here as the "Hero of the Oval", died at home after suffering a heart attack, his family said. He was 78.
Mahmood was famed for taking 12 wickets in each of Pakistan's first two wins during their formative years in Test cricket -- first at Lucknow, India, in 1952 and then at the Oval, in London in 1954.
"Mahmood suffered a heart attack which he couldn't survive. He was otherwise healthy and used to go to his office even after a prostate operation," his son Shahazad Mahmood told AFP on Monday.
Mahmood, also a police officer, played 34 Tests, taking 139 wickets and led Pakistan in 10 Test matches between 1952 and 1962.
Before the partition of India and Pakistan Mahmood played in the Ranji Trophy for Northern India and, although selected for India's tour to Australia in 1946, he chose to migrate to Pakistan and sought a career in the newly formed country.
Former team-mate and long time friend Hanif Mohammad described Mahmood's death as a "great loss to Pakistan cricket".
"Mahmood was a great human being, always willing to help anyone who sought his advice," Mohammad, also a member of Pakistan's inaugural team to India in 1952, told AFP.
"Mahmood was the doyen of Pakistan bowlers in the formative years and all our wins since we started playing Test cricket were indebted to him.
"It was just because of his bowling feats that Pakistan achieved the rare honour of beating every country in our early series in 1950s and 60s," said Mohammad.
After Pakistan lost their first ever Test to India at New Delhi in 1952, Mahmood returned at Lucknow with figures of 5-52 and 7-42 -- 12 for 99 in the match, to help Pakistan win only their second Test by an innings and 43 runs.
For his part in Pakistan's win at the Oval in 1954 he was one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year, the first Pakistani to win the coveted honour.
He again took 12 for 99 at the Oval, highlighted by the British media which reported: "England Fazal-ed".
Mahmood was remembered for his devastating leg cutters as a medium pacer, often unplayable on the matting pitches used on the subcontinent before grass turf pitches were introduced.
Mahmood also played a lead role in Pakistan's first ever win over Australia, taking 13 for 114 at Karachi in 1955.
"I played with him for three years and he was a true fast bowler, a great gentleman and great ambassador for the game," remembered former team-mate Nasimul Ghani.
Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who was not picked for Pakistan's current tour of the West Indies, said Mahmood was a great influence on younger generation.
"A great chapter of fast bowling has ended today. He was always kind and generous to me and it's a loss for all the cricket players in Pakistan for he was the torch bearer," Akhtar said.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)
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