Less than 200 runs away from 10,000 Test runs, this prolific batsman retired from the shorter form of the game at the end of the World cup 2007. After what was a traumatic world cup for the team as well as for him, the burly batsman realized that it was time to move on and shine on the stage that is still considered 'the real cricket' Zone, - Test matches!
But like the game to which he has dedicated his life, the unpredictable becomes the predictable. Can one fight one's destiny? Perhaps not, but the Pakistan Cricket Board, don't sound that pessimistic. They have said that when Inzi ( as he is fondly referred to) is fit to play, then he shall be considered, stressing that physical fitness was paramount. Further adding that the contracts were given only to the players who were available for both forms of the game, and that the emphasis was not on seniority, but on performance and youth. This is why, arguably one of the most solid Pakistani batsmen in recent times, does not even find his name appearing for the domestic league, for hes now pushing 38!!
Let's sit back and look at the issues at hand. Is there a larger message in the recent happenings? Should Inzamam quietly announce his retirement from Test Cricket too? Are we reading too much into things, and is Inzamam just not part of the list, as he is only available for Test matches? Time will provide all the answers. In the meantime the old soldier must march on and accept the challenges that lie ahead in the battlefield of life.
For a moment, let's celebrate the genius of this man. He was the find of that charismatic Pakistani Captain Imran Khan. At the ICC World Cup 1992, the young 22 year old Inzi made his presence felt and in the end was etched into Pakistan's World Cup history, as a prominent member of the World Cup Champion team. Ever since, this specialist batter has gone from strength to strength and has created a niche zone for himself.
Commentators and fans at large have ridiculed his girth, which got more and more prosperous as time went on. In fact an irate Inzamam took his bat to beat up one of the fans who kept calling him Aloo! Aloo! Aloo! at the Sahara Cup series involving Pakistan and India. The fan should have had better sense, as the stands are very approachable at the Skating and Curling club, in Toronto. The name of Aloo, sadly has stuck on with Inzi and his dramatic outburst is the essence of most Inzi jokes that do the round in Comedy stand up shows.
For a man who has a delightful sense of humour, facing the brunt of cricket jokes gets diluted a bit. As a sports journalist, attending the great man's press conferences were a treat. He always managed to keep journalists in splits with the anecdotes that he would come up with and the things he would say.
Purely from the cricketing point of view, he has given the cricket loving public reems of memories of the finest cricket innings that one will ever see. Amassing no less than 21, 552 runs in both versions of the game, with 35 centuries and 129 half centuries. One will remember that superlative 329 that he scored against the hapless New Zealand bowling attack in 2002, in his own backyard.
The achievements don't end there. He may not be Pakistan's most successful captain, but his Test average as a captain is greater than the time when he was not, clearly showing that the pressure of captaincy was more of a boost to him.
People may say he is a comical fielder but the 194 catches that he has held onto in both versions of the game, do tell a different story. But then again let's not get into the catches that he has dropped! To add to his fitness woes, perhaps the 46 number of times that he has been run out, suggests, that more than anticipation, perhaps his legs did not quite reach the other end of the crease.
In retrospect, the announcement to retire from one-day cricket, Just after the World Cup this year, perhaps was premature, but it could have been the intense pressure that the World Cup captain was under, that made him resort to leaving the stage, where his team performed way below their potential. Added to this, he along with his teammates had to deal with the tragic death of their coach, Bob Woolmer, whose death, still remains a mystery. Well, whatever be the larger reason for his retirement, Inzamam will now have to live with the fact that he will not be considered to be a contracted player with the Pakistan Cricket Team, for he no more plays both versions of the game.
The tragedy of this magnificent batsman, is that he never realized what a genius he really is. His former captain, Imran Khan echoed these sentiments.
"I think Inzamam is as talented as Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar but little does he realise his true talent."
Is it too late in the day for the 37-year-old Multan Maestro, to realise that he has the fire within and needs to set it alight? Will he be given a chance to perform on that 22 yard stage, and take the final curtain call? Does anyone really have the answers? For now, Inzamam ul haq will just have to live with the fact that his destiny lies with the Pakistan Cricket Board.
As a cricket lover, one hopes that he is back with that willow in his hand, showing the world that he is indeed the cricketer with substance. A man that the cricketing fraternity will always revere.
This is a plea, to the Pakistan Selection Committee. Please let that mountain of talent stand tall. For God knows, he deserves it. For now, it's not yet alvida time, and Inshallah, Inzi will rule once again!!