Bengaluru, August 24: There wasn't a better sight in world cricket than Zaheer Abbas batting in full flight - wrists uncoiling to send the ball to the fence with elegance. The avarice for runs - whether at international or First-Class level - fetched him the moniker - Asian Bradman.
The sobriquet itself is a massive honour as he played along with some other batting behemoths of the time such as Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards, Allan Border and Javed Miandad. Zaheer Abbas' on Sunday (August 23) received the International Cricket Council (ICC) recognition when he was inducted into Hall of Fame along with South African legend Jacques Kallis and former Australian women's cricketer Lisa Sthalekar.
Abbas became the sixth Pakistani cricketer to get a place in the Hall of Fame after Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Understandably, the batting master was pleased. "I am really happy to have received this honour. There are some great players in the Hall of Fame and it is a humbling experience to stand along with them," Abbas, also a former ICC President, told MyKhel from London.
For the record, Abbas made 5062 runs from 78 Tests at 44.79 with 12 hundreds and 20 fifties. He played 62 ODIs and made 2572 runs at 47.62 with 7 centuries and 13 fifties. He had a remarkably long FC career in which he played 459 matches, including for English county Gloustershire, and scored 34843 runs at 51.54 and made 108 hundreds.
Till date, the Pakistani great remains the only player from Asia to score more than 100 First-Class hundreds. He is also the only batsman to have ever made century in each innings in Fist-Class matches eight times.
"I was part of a tremendous Pakistan team that had some great players. Imran, Miandad, Qadir, all were exceptional and took Pakistan cricket to a different level. Hopefully, their efforts will keep motivating the younger generation and it was great to have played in that era. Other teams also had some great players like Sunny (Sunil Gavaskar), Viv, (Ian) Botham etc," he said.
Abbas had retired from cricket in 1985 but has kept a close watch on the game that he'd graced. "T20 has really given another angle to cricket. It's always good to see lot of new players coming through and excelling in all these formats (of the game). I won't go into comparing between eras because challenges have changed over the years. We played when there were no restrictions on bouncers and now these cricketers have so many other challenges. Fitness of players has also improved a lot," he said.
Abbas has kept an eye on the on-going Test series between England and Pakistan. England are leading the series 1-0 after their win at Manchester in the first Test. "Pakistan should have won that first Test. They are a young side, especially bowlers and they will learn from the experience. I like to watch Babar Azam, a really talented batsman. Then we have players like Virat Kohli and Steve Smith too around. It's always exciting to see new talents in action. They take the game forward," he added.