Top centuries at College Field -#3 Sarfraz Nawaz

In part 3 on 9th July 2022 in the Guernsey Press Rob Batiste recalls the Pakistan bowler who showed his batsmen how it should be done in 1976

Moody Sarfraz was in no mood for mucking about

THE great Pakistani cricketer Sarfraz Nawaz was renowned for swinging a cricket ball, a cricket bat, and his mood swings. Guernsey got to see it first hand when the 6ft 6in opening bowler and very handy lower-order bat arrived in the island in late August 1976 as part of the crack Northamptonshire county side who were here to play two friendly games as part of the benefit year for captain Mushtaq Mohammad. The second of those two games stood out, not least for the brilliant 137 Sarfraz smashed as he got the chance to open the batting as well as the bowling. Sarfraz was a serious and strange man. Who else would want to bowl a succession of bouncers at fellow test quicks like Jeff Thomson and Joel Garner, knowing full well that they might fancy matching fire with even more fire? And would many players have responded the way he did to Aussie batsman Andrew Hilditch, at the non-striker’s end, picking up the ball and politely giving it back to Sarfraz the bowler, by promptly appealing for handling the ball? Hilditch was given out. Two years earlier, while in Guernsey, Sarfraz was unamused by the larking about of his Northants teammates in the opening game against GICC at the College Field.

Sarfraz Nawaz, Bill Robilliard as the umpire

So, when the county men returned to the ground the following day for game two, Sarfraz led the way as the county stars focused their minds and gave the home team a sound beating. Promoted to open, the burly Punjabi who would go on to form a quality Pakistani new-ball attack with Imran Khan and pioneer the art of reverse swing, demonstrated why he would one day make 90 against England in Lahore.

That was six years after the Guernsey trip, but at Headingley in 1974 he had hinted at his developing batting skills by smashing a quickfire 53 off an England bowling attack containing Geoff Arnold, Chris Old, Mike Hendrick, Derek Underwood and Tony Greig. It was a strong Northants team that came to the island and played under the title Mushtaq’s XI. In David Steele, Geoff Cook, Wayne Larkins and Peter Willey, they possessed four of the best English-qualified batsmen around. Willey had just made his England Test debut against the might of the West Indies. Steele was a household name after winning the BBC Sports Personality of the year award for his heroically brave batting against Jeff Thomson when called up to play the touring Aussies in 1975. ‘Bloody hell, who’ve we got here, Groucho Marx?,’ enquired ‘Tommo’ as the greying Steele got to the wicket. In Guernsey, Steele scored 62 in game one which Mushtaq’s team won by 70 runs against a weaker of the Guernsey XIs, and in the second made up for his batting failure by spinning GlCC out with his left-arm spinners. The big disappointment of the weekend was the double failure of the visiting skipper. ‘Mushy’ was a classy all-rounder, scoring 72 first-class centuries with a highest score of 303, 285 more than he managed in two knocks at the College Field. One of four brothers who played Test cricket, he had been just 15 years and 124 days old when he made his Test bow. The same year as Northants played in Guernsey and made him a pretty penny in so doing, ‘Mushy’ skippered his county side to a Gillette Cup triumph at Lord’s, the county’s first major trophy, and led them to second place in the county championship. But in Guernsey he batted like mush. John Burley was president of the GICC that year and played his part in billeting the professional tourists, including the captain, who he agreed to sponsor at £1 a run. ‘Yes, I put “Mushy” up and when he failed, I transferred the bet to Sarfraz who took me for 137,’ said Burley recently.

Match report by John Le Poidevin

THE Mushtaq Mohammad XI wound up a two-match tour with a 148-run victory over a virtual Guernsey first team in a far better game at the College Field on Saturday than on the previous day. The visitors had been disappointing on Friday, but there was another fine attendance on Saturday with many visitors among the sprinkling of spectators around the huge field. They won, and won handsomely, because of a superb century from the Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz and a seven-wickets-for-20 spell of leg-spin bowling by England opening batsman David Steele. It was not planned this way. I know Mushtaq was keen to redeem himself and the reputation of his team, with a good performance. Peter Willey, England’s newest batting hope, and Steele also wanted to get runs, for only Steele had performed well in game one. But Willey soon went to a catch behind to Pierre Le Cocq and Mushtaq was caught superbly, low at mid-wicket, by Brian Preston off Andy Creed. Two of the best batsmen were out for only 24. Wayne Larkins soon followed them, snapped up behind by keeper Mick Fooks off Le Cocq, and Steele, after a confident opening, was well bowled in Warren Barrett’s first over. The cream of Northants batting was back in the pavilion for only 79, and most of those runs had been scored by the tall, elegant Sarfraz. He opened the innings and was playing superbly well, and getting better the longer he stayed at the crease. Sarfraz brought up his half-century – out of 86 – with a pleasant cover drive off Barrett for two and next over hit the most marvellous extra cover drive off Le Cocq to the boundary. He was in full flight then and cracked a Barrett delivery for six into the trees bordering the mid-wicket boundary to bring up the 100. A lofted four to mid-wicket and a late cut to the boundary was his answer to Le Cocq’s next over, and a few moments later he cracked a Barrett delivery for six into the trees. Sarfraz went on to make 135 and Mushtaq was later able to declare at 252 for nine. Andy Creed emerged with the highly impressive bowling figures of four for 52 from 16 overs.