From the archives

Public speaking is not my strength: Imran Khan

Updated Nov 02, 2016 12:37pm


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Imran Khan after the World Cup victory in 1992 |
Imran Khan after the World Cup victory in 1992 |

Imran Khan spoke to the Herald in 1992 after his World Cup victory.

Jaffer Bilgrami. Did you chalk out a special strategy after Pakistan lost the first few matches of the World Cup?

Imran Khan. After the string of defeats that the team suffered, I told the players at every stage that they can win the Cup. I had faith in God Almighty and I had faith in my team members, that they can fight. Even the countries pitched against us were full of praise for a talented but inexperienced young side staging a comeback from a miserable situation.

Again, I give all tribute to my players, both seniors as well as the young ones who I have seen coming into the team and then developing and grooming themselves into fine cricketers. Now, they are finally capable of bringing laurels, pride and glory to the nation, and also to me at the twilight of my cricket career.

I also want to pay my compliments to the manager of the team, Intikhab Alam, who did an excellent job and also to the selection committee. Every time a team performs poorly, it is the selection committee which gets the wrath. I have complete confidence in the selection committee and the way Javed Burki and the other members backed us. They realized and grasped our problems and knew what we needed. We knew what was going wrong in Australia, and at those junctures the selection committee gave us complete backup material. All these factors contributed to a memorable and glorious victory for Pakistan.

Bilgrami. What really went wrong in the initial stages, and how did you transform the team into a winning combination?

Khan. The first thing which went wrong, and which always goes wrong in Australia — you can trace the past history of the Pakistan team — were the conditions. In Pakistan, we play on dead wickets with no life and bounce and face weaker teams like Sri Lanka. And then suddenly the team moves to Australia, where things are always different.

It goes without saying that the team members are like my younger brothers, because I have seen them coming into the team and then developing into fine cricketers.

The other teams were strong and therefore we had readjustment problems. Anyway, we went through the readjustment period. But importantly, Javed Miandad, who is the backbone of our batting lineup, was not there in the early stages, followed by the injury problem of Waqar Younis, around whom our bowling revolves. He went back with a stress fracture. The whole situation was further compounded by my own injury. Can you imagine, the captain of the team gets injured, and that threw away the balance of the team. I tore the tendons of my shoulder bone only two days before the commencement of the World Cup. I have never played a competition like the World Cup with such pain and injury like this. I was in no condition to bat or bowl or even do any fielding. I played with pain killers and cortisone injections and after the match my shoulder would become inflamed. Instead of practicing, I had to rest. I was totally out of form throughout the tournament and all these factors really gave us a bad start.

Bilgrami. What really clicked in the end?

Khan. It was the urge and motivation of the team, apart from the blessings of God Almighty, who looked upon us favourably and really pulled us through. At the same time, you cannot forget the fighting spirit displayed by the team members. They really dedicated themselves to bringing glory and pride to the country.

Bilgrami. You have always been very vocal about the restructuring of domestic cricket. How do you visualize first class cricket in Pakistan?

Khan. In this regard, first I want to appeal to the President of Pakistan, who is the patron of cricket in the country: In order to retain the top position in the cricket world, we must scrap our first class cricket structure because it has contributed nothing to Pakistan cricket.

No player in the country has benefited from this structure and none of the top players of Pakistan owe anything to the existing structure. Pakistan beat world class teams in the World Cup and became champions of the world, but in spite of that, our structure is bad. It was their own ability, the fighting spirit of the players, which brought victory to the nation.

Photo courtesy: Herald archives
Photo courtesy: Herald archives

We must focus our attention on regional cricket, like anywhere else in the world. Frankly speaking, we don't really have a structure. The best example is that of Mushtaq Ahmed, who enjoyed immense success in the fifth World up. He does not even represent his employers in first class cricket. Remove the handful of persons who are opposing the regional structure mainly because of their own vested interests and replace them with those who are capable and neutral and have no axe to grind. Waqar Younis, Aaqib Javed. Inzamamul Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed are not products of first class cricket. They came from the under-19 and went straight to Test cricket. Inzamamul Haq was dropped, although he was scoring, but nobody cared. Inzamamul Haq learned his cricket not from the first class structure, but from being in the team for months.

The President of Pakistan must look into the fact that first class cricket has given us nothing and it cannot take any credit for the World Cup victory since it made no contribution. I would suggest that cricket administrators and journalists be sent abroad to assess the true depth of cricket and see the handicaps we are suffering. I stress that we must reorganize our cricket on regional lines and must go beyond Karachi and Lahore to small and remote towns and explore talent. After all, they are also Pakistanis and have every right to play for the country.

I must remind you that South Africa remained out of international cricket for twenty years, but since they have a sound domestic cricket structure they emerged as a hard team. Our domestic structure is corrupt. May I ask, are Jansher Khan or Jahangir Khan the products of squash associations? They emerged mainly because of their talent and skills. The need of the hour is to abolish our first class structure and organise a regional structure and harness the abundant potential.

Bilgrami. Would you like to comment on Botham's allegations about objectionable behaviour from Pakistani players?

Khan. I am not aware of any sledging. Had I known, I would have stopped it, because I do not believe in such behaviour. Everybody knows that I have always been a champion of discipline on and off the field.

Bilgrami. Was it appropriate to mention your cancer hospital at the final award distribution ceremony? You also did not say anything about the players and the country that won the World Cup.

The President of Pakistan must look into the fact that first class cricket has given us nothing and it cannot take any credit for the World Cup victory since it made no contribution.

Khan. It goes without saying that the team members are like my younger brothers, because I have seen them coming into the team and then developing into fine cricketers. I take pride in their performance. They are all such great players and like a teacher I feel proud. Rather than my own performance, I feel happy from the depth of my heart to see Wasim Akram, Inzamam or Aaqib performing. If I did not mention anybody in my speech, it wasn't because I had forgotten them. How can I forget members of my own team? I was talking of the twilight of my career rather than the career of all those players who have a lot of world cups to play in the years to come. Moreover, public speaking is not my strength and I was not fully prepared either.

The cancer hospital project is not just my project, it is the project of Pakistan, the project of the whole nation. Therefore, it is everything to me, just like Pakistan is everything to me. I do not see any difference, which most people forget. The hospital is meant for the people, the poor masses, of my country.

Bilgrami. What are your plans for the future?

Khan. I am going to rest for a few weeks in view of my shoulder injury, which was nagging me throughout the World Cup. I will then review the overall situation for the forthcoming English tour. Everyone has some motivation for doing something, and my motivation and greatest driving force is the cancer hospital. That is the reason I am in cricket. This is a personal thing, but I know it is also the pride of the nation. I still remember how the nation wanted to win and how they felt after the defeat in the 1987 World Cup, so I fully understand the feelings of the nation when we won the fifth World Cup. At the same time, I hope they will come forward to help me in my endeavour, in the greatest mission of my life.

This was originally published in the Herald's April 1992 issue. To read more subscribe to the Herald in print.

The writer is a senior journalist.

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Comments (20) Closed

anees from zaida Nov 02, 2016 08:25am

While public speaking might not be your ability, it is the ONLY ability our so-called politicians have. You have a vision, determination and, above all, honesty. You were, are, and will remain our hero.

Karim Nov 02, 2016 08:32am

Out of all the things he said in the interview, author decided the public speaking part was suitable for the heading. This was our proudest moment as a nation and we don't win without his leadership. Pathetic stuff really, if you have any shame please change the heading.

Hassan Nov 02, 2016 08:58am

Remember this world cup like a dream, I was 11 and understand very little cricket. But never felt more proud of our cricket team.

Changez Khan Nov 02, 2016 09:00am

Imran Khan's the ONLY strength is DHARNAS.

m@k Nov 02, 2016 09:22am

1992 Victory... WoW!

Imran Khan, You are PRIDE of this NATION and we'll remain indebted for your contributions in cricket and beyond...

thanks dawn and herald team for republishing this piece

Arun-KS Nov 02, 2016 09:44am

Imran Khan is a mix of good leadership quality and poor inter personal behavioural approach. Bearings of these traits reflect in his public speaking and actions. And these resulted in achieving world cup on cricketing ground, attainment of limited success in political life & Talaqs in domestic arena.

Amin Ansari Nov 02, 2016 10:05am

Imran Khan: A great, selfless, patriotic Pakistani who always puts Pakistan before anything else.

Hope. Nov 02, 2016 10:42am

Ik, getting along and running a party on principals, taking advice from experienced people are not your strengths either.

Thank you for leading a team which won the world cup 92, with the heroics of Inzimam and Waseem, since then Pakistan won another world cup in 2009 and that captain does not brag about his success like you do. Your problem is your ego, inability to get along and hence disappoint all those who trusted you. Grow up or realize its time for you to just live a solitaire life without wasting peoples time.

Kamran Nov 02, 2016 10:49am

This is the Imran Khan I knew as a child and teenager. He was so different from the bitter, angry, vicious man we see on the container every evening.

shahid Nov 02, 2016 10:57am

Hazaron saal nargis apni benoori pe rotee ha, Bari Mushkil se hota ha chaman mein deedawar paida, son of the soil Imran Khan is a living legend transforming a slave minded nation to a vibrant politically aware and proud nation.

Aamir Nov 02, 2016 11:01am

...and a sound judgment too.

Optimistic Pakistani Nov 02, 2016 11:06am

You are a true fighter and deserve atleast a chance to show your ability as all the politicians are fully blamed of corruption except you. If you don't perform then obviously your party will be said goodbye for ever but atleast you won't loot the money from the people who deserve them.

Lehaar A. Nov 02, 2016 11:21am

Imran perhaps thinks that much like the under-prepared team winning the WC in 1992, his party can succeed in politics, with all JKTs and Gandapurs around.

Shahryar Shirazi Nov 02, 2016 12:10pm

25 years later, the poor guys is still making the same requests to overhaul the domestic infrastructure.

saeed Nov 02, 2016 12:34pm

we agree that public speaking is not you skill, every time you open your mouth you offend tooo many people

Devendra K Sood Nov 02, 2016 10:37pm

tell us what's your strength?

Umreekan_Sundi Nov 03, 2016 03:16am

Before 1992 Imran never had to beg umpires to raise their fingers as then he used to believe in fair play…

adil Nov 03, 2016 11:58am

@Changez Khan and your strength is 'a blind to the real world'.

Jawad u rahman Nov 05, 2016 02:33pm

It would have been great had he stuck to building cancer hospitals.

Waqas Ahmed Nov 07, 2016 01:03am

@Arun-KS "attainment of limited success in political life" Excuse me! Have you been in oblivion? He's broken through the two party system which is unheard of in the modern democratic history. From a mere single seat in NA he's made his party the second largest party as per the votes polled in the last elections. His party is ruling a province and in 4 years of its rule has made the province a role model in good governance for the rest of the country. Moreover, it's a fact that he is the only man standing up to this status quo and all of them have aligned against him to protest this system of filth and injustice. Is that what you call "limited success in political life"? Imran Khan may have his shortcomings but arguable he is a historical figure, I mean you look at his achievements in whatever he's endeavoured in, he stands tall above the rest. Bravo Imran Khan for being an inspiration to millions like me, indeed you're a great role model for us.