Syed Wazir Ali

Wazir Ali

Syed Wazir Ali (born September 15, 1903, Jullundur, Punjab - died June 17, 1950, Karachi) was a prominent figure in early Indian cricket. He was an elegant right handed batsman and a useful medium pace bowler.

Wazir played in all the Tests that India played before the second world war. In the tour of England in 1932, he scored 1229 runs in first class matches and 1725 overall. In the next tour in 1936 he was hampered by a hand injury but recorded his highest score of 42 in the Test at Manchester.

For most his first class career he played for Southern Punjab in the Ranji Trophy and Muslims in the Bombay Pentangular. His 222* in the 1938/39 Ranji final against Bengal was then the highest in the tournament. Bengal had earlier been allout for 222, but Southern Punjab still ended up in the losing side. His career best score of 268* for Indian University Occasionals in 1935 was the highest score in Indian first class cricket. Both records were beaten by Vijay Hazare's 316* in 1939/40.

As a cricketing figure, Wazir Ali was second only to C.K. Nayudu among his contemporary Indian cricketers but he apparently resented it having to play second fiddle to Nayudu. Nayudu had many rivals and Wazir was often a stalking-horse for them. Mihir Bose contrasted the two : "To an extent Nayudu and Wazir Ali were natural rivals. Wazir, like Nayudu, was a powerful right-hand bat who could play some very elegant strokes including a charming cover drive, and he was also a more than useful medium-pace change bowler. Like Nayudu he played in only seven Tests, all against England, and did not have the opportunity to demonstrate his class or his ability to its full extent. What set the two men apart was that Wazir, eight years younger than Nayudu, did not possess the older man's determination and his obsession with the game. Nayudu was, undoubtedly the greater cricketer, and he left a deeper impression on the game ... Wazir in contrast, died at the age of forty-six after an operation for appendicitis just three years after Pakistan was created, and he had little chance to impose his personality of the post-war game in that country ."

Wazir captained India in two unofficial Tests against an Australian XI in 1935/36. Nayudu had captained the side in the first two matches of the series and dropped out of the matches in which Wazir captained the side. "Wazir went to his grave nursing a deep grievance against Nayudu", though it seems that Nayudu was genuinely unable to play.

After the partition, Wazir migrated to Pakistan and ended his life in poverty. Cashman quotes a Pakistani official that "during his last days, Wazir lived precariously on his own meagre savings in a small quarters in Soldiers Bazar where struggled against poverty and disease" .

His son Khalid Wazir played two Tests for Pakistan in 1954. Wazir was the elder brother of Nazir Ali.

Notes

References

  • Christopher Martin-Jenkins, The Complete Who's Who of Test Cricketers
  • Richard Cashman, Patrons, Players and the Crowd, Orient Longman, 1980
  • Mihir Bose, A History of Indian Cricket, Andre Deutsch, 1990, ISBN 0-233-98563-8

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