LAHORE, Aug 23: Former batting legend Zaheer Abbas has become the sixth Pakistani cricketer to join the International Cricket Council (ICC) Hall of Fame, the governing body said on Sunday.
In a press release, the ICC said that the announcement was made during a show streamed live on the council’s social media channels. In all, 93 players have been inducted so far under the system, which sees retired players become eligible five years after playing their last international match.
Zaheer, 73, a prolific run-scorer during the 1970s and 1980s with both Pakistan and English county side Gloucestershire, was nicknamed the “Asian Bradman” in honour of Australia’s Don Bradman, widely regarded as Test cricket’s greatest batsman of all time.
In addition to Abbas, South Africa’s gritty all-rounder Jacques Kallis and Australian World Cup-winning all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar were also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In comments posted to the ICC’s website, Zaheer Abbas, a former president of the global governing body and the only player from Asia to have scored a hundred first-class hundreds said that he felt “privileged and truly humbled”. “I am excited to be in the midst of other illustrious cricketers. “I would like to say a special thanks to my family, my country Pakistan, my county Gloucestershire and many fans worldwide who helped me achieve and fulfill my dreams by playing this great game at the highest level. “Thank you ICC and the members of the jury for this special honour. It is a final recognition for any cricketer. “This great game has made me the person I am. Thank you cricket.”
Congratulating Abbas on his inclusion to the ICC’s Hall of Fame, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani said it was a matter of “great honour and pride” for the country that the cricketer’s outstanding career achievements had been acknowledged by the game’s governing body. “It gives me immense pleasure to congratulate Zaheer on behalf of millions of Pakistani cricket fans across the world for this recognition. “I am sure all those who watched Zaheer live in action will agree that when he batted, it was like a poetry in motion. “It was his immaculate footwork backed up by superlative wrist work with an ability to consistently bisect the field that not only made him a run-machine but also one of the most attractive and graceful batsmen ever to grace this great game.”
The chairman added that Abbas also had a “huge, positive impact” on Pakistani cricket. “After he had established himself as a household name in every cricket playing country, the younger generation fell in love with the sport and consequently, we produced a battery of champion world-class batsmen. “His contributions to cricket were beyond the field of play when, as an administrator, he served the PCB and the ICC with respect and dignity. “He deserves this recognition from the ICC, which hopefully will further inspire [the] next generation of Pakistani cricketers.”
According to the PCB, Abbas joins compatriots Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in the ICC Hall of Fame. The ICC Hall of Fame includes 27 Australia cricketers, 28 England players, six India cricketers, three from New Zealand, four from South Africa, one Sri Lankan and 18 players from the West Indies, it said.