Sunday, May 5, 2013

Abdul Jabbar

Abdul Jabbar came to Madras some time in 1972, to join State Bank of India as a cricket recruit, leaving his native Hyderabad where job opportunities for sportsmen were limited. State Bank was a good employer and entry into the Hyderabad Ranji Trophy team did not seem easy. When the talent scouts of State Bank of India, Madras landed in the twin cities, and the captain, VV Kumar walked into the Nizam College ground where Jabbar and his mate Rashid Mirza were playing a match and made them both an offer of a job in Madras, neither had any hesitation in accepting. Jabbar had a brilliant record at the university and junior level.

The young left hander was athletically built and quickfooted. His batting was marked by commonsense rather than any exaggerated notions of style. Compact in defence and fluent in strokeplay, Jabbar played very straight, concentrated hard, but could hit the ball explosively hard, when he chose to. He was a good judge of a single, his sense of timing and placement was sound, and his demeanour on and off the field was sober, alert, conservative. A pious Muslim, Jabbar came from a middle class family with a keen interest in sport. Elder brother Wahed was a more than useful medium pacer and younger brother Abdul Azeem, a successful batsman for Hyderabad, once scored a triple century against a Jabbar-led Tamil Nadu attack.

Once in Madras, Jabbar began to make a positive impact on State Bank's and Tamil Nadu's cricket, lending the middle order unprecedented stability. By temperament, he was a long innings player, and time and again he gave evidence of that in the league, Ranji Trophy and Buchi Babu matches. Tamil Nadu was those days in the process of developing into a good batting side, but not yet so consistent as to provide a No.6 batsman ample opportunity to build innings. Jabbar often ran out of partners, and had to be satisfied with forties and fifties. Only in 1976, did he cross three figures for the first time in the Ranji Trophy, making 201 not out against Karnataka.

In due course, Jabbar accumulated more than 3600 runs at a healthy average of 44.57, and became known for his ability to rise to the occasion whenever the chips were down for his state. Given belated recognition in Duleep Trophy, Jabbar had a reasonable run in the tournament, but it came too late in his career to take him further upwards in his career.

Jabbar developed into a very useful off spinner, in which role he was a huge asset to the State Bank team, in the local league, in intra- State Bank competition and for the all India team in national level tournaments, especially in limited overs cricket. His state captain Venkataraghavan too saw merit in Jabbar as an off spinner in his mature years, and he was a quite a good foil to Venkat and left arm spinner Vasudevan.

Jabbar was a brilliant close-in fielder, a brave short leg in the early years, and a fine catcher in the slips later. He was a team man all through his career, someone the youngest player felt free to go up to for advice and comfort when in trouble.

After serving State Bank for 18 years, Jabbar joined the Sanmar group and turned out for its team Jolly Rovers in the league for a few years, achieving tremendous success with the bat. In the second innings of his career, he began to play some daringly attacking cricket.

After his playing days, Jabbar has turned to coaching youngsters. He is especially good with very young players, grounding them well in the basics, and motivating them with a gentle touch. His coaching clinic is one of the most popular in the city, with pupils and parents alike. He has also been the coach of the Jolly Rovers and the Tamil Nadu teams, besides other state teams.


Srinivasan Krishnan said...

Dear Ram,
Greetings, Your blog as
splendid as ever. Jabbar, TE, Vasudevan, P Ramesh, V Siva,
TA Sekar, Hemang Badani were
simply brilliant cricketers but could not scale international cricket. TE could have walked into any XI. Why TN cricketers remain
under achievers. I include
L Siva and Srikkanth as well.
Your thoughts.
Srinivasan Krishnan

Balaji Sethuraman said...

Many tks for writing on Abdul Jabbar. We have seen many Hindu Trophy matches on Marina ground wherein after Prabhakar-Kedarnath, I think, he will come either 2 down or 3 down. Not sure...AJ was very quick on his toes, and used to pick singles and a sudden boundary to keep the momentum .

During his playing days, we used to compare him with Rajesh Khanna ! AJ looks will be absolutely smart . Great moments we had ......

bratty said...

Thank you soo much for writing a blog on Jabbar sir.. Very simple, informative gentlemen both on and off the field.. Any student of his should feel proud to stand tall and say HE IS MY COACH.. Respected by all for his amazing character.. The passion for the game never faded.. He is still a passionate learner of the game.. He learns from every student of his.. He loves watching others play cricket.. His life is cricket.. I only wish he had got more opportunities and played for India. he would have been called THE WALL.. Im proud to say i learnt cricket from this Master.. Salute.. No words.. He is a genius..

arshed said...

i had a chance of meeting abdul azeem, chance of playing with his cousin dr abdul ahad khan in sydney, and nephew aleem.

i had the chance to look at his coaching manual as well here in sydney.

Anonymous said...

Good overview, its amazing how you do this. I wish you could do one on HABEEB AHMED of yesteryear. You have mentioned him in other blogs but i wonder you can write something like this in a nutshell.

Anonymous said...

I have already wrote. What happened to that comment?