The death of Fakir Aizaz-ud-din on May 8th, 2017, at the age of 81, leaves a void, very hard to fill for he took great delight in sharing life experiences, both on and off the cricket field. Having enrolled at Cambridge in 1955, aged 19, as S.A.U. Fakir, it was the traditional English cricket set-up that would leave a deep and long-lasting effect on his mind.
The presence of Iftikhar Bokhari, his 2nd cousin, who had arrived the previous year and had represented Cambridge, proved reassuring for Aizaz, himself adapting to the English playing conditions as a stubborn right-hand opening or middle order batsman and a flighty right-arm leg-break bowler.
Born in Lahore, Punjab in British India on 17th August 1935, Aizaz, whilst with Friends CC in Minto Park, Lahore, received formal coaching from Khwaja Abdu Rabb, a reputable coach, who would continue to influence the next generations of Pakistan cricketers, including Majid Khan, Imran Khan and Ramiz Raja, to name a few.
In his college days Aizaz was a pace bowler before turning his attention to batting. Following his first-class debut for Cambridge University against Lancashire at Fenner’s in 1957, his first appearance in Pakistan was for Khairpur, a district of interior Sind and one of the weaker sides, in the 1959-60 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy.
A maiden hundred (102), arrived whilst leading South Zone in the 1965-66 Ayub Trophy semi-final defeat against Karachi. Aizaz’s most noteworthy innings would be his 101 as an opener for Khairpur, who after initially slipping to 78 for 6, reached their target of 198 for the loss of 8 wickets, against Bahawalpur in Bahawalpur in the 1962-63 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy.
On the PIA-sponsored Pakistan Eaglets’ tour of England in 1963, Aizaz compiled 187 (381 all out) against Cambridge University. He had a point to prove for he was returning to Fenner’s, six years after being denied to feature in the annual fixture against Oxford, thus missing out on his Cambridge Blue and indeed an appearance on the ‘Home of Cricket’ at Lord’s that invariably came up in the discussion with him. His career-best innings, enabled him to top the tour averages with 280 runs @ 56.00, ahead of Mushtaq Mohammad, Shafqat Rana, Asif Iqbal and Majid Khan.
In 1963-64 with both Hanif Mohammad (bad knee) and Alim-ud-din, not under consideration, Aizaz grabbed the opportunity to open the batting, alongside skipper Imtiaz Ahmed, for Pakistan in all three unofficial ‘Test’ matches against Peter Richardson’s Commonwealth side. Aizaz stood up to the pace of West Indies’ Charlie Griffith, who had destroyed the England batting line-up in the summer, in scoring 72 at Karachi and 62n.o at Dacca.
His luck was soon to take a turn as a miserable run of 14 runs in four innings for Pakistan ‘A’ in Sri Lanka pushed him back in the pecking order. Instead the selectors called the seasoned Warwickshire professional Khalid Ibadullah from England to partner Abdul Kadir for the Karachi Test against Australia thus depriving Aizaz of any official Test appearance.
At 31, Aizaz won selection for the tour of England in 1967, on which he never really got going, with just 267 runs @ 17.80 from 9 first-class games. Batting lower down, he was at his most dogged, in securing a draw against Kent at Canterbury, with scores of 29 and 33 not out, whilst others, Javed Burki, Saeed Ahmed and Hanif Mohammed, succumbed to Derek Underwood, who claimed 10-132 in the match. An innings of 74 against Minor Counties at Swindon in Pakistan’s 23-run win was the top score from either side.
His best return with the ball of 4-36 was for South Zone against Pakistan Education Boards at Hyderabad in the 1961-62 Ayub Trophy. Aizaz captained Khairpur for two consecutive seasons, beginning with 1961-62 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy and then later again in 1968-69.
He also led Karachi Whites in the 1965-66 Ayub Trophy, with one of the debutantes, Zaheer Abbas, going on to enjoy an illustrious international career. In the same capacity, Aizaz finished his career in the 1971-72 BCCP Trophy. In a career that spanned from 1957 to 1971-72, he scored 1872 first-class runs @ 24.96 in 43 matches with the highest score of 187 that included 3 hundreds and 8 fifties. He took 13 catches and as an occasional bowler, claimed 19 wickets @ 40.05.
An all-round sportsman in his days at Aitchison College, Aizaz was more than competent in horse riding and in his early 40s, fit enough to participate as an amateur in 1977 Pakistan Open Squash Championship, held in Karachi. He was a member of the Cambridge University-Pakistan Association Committee (1957) and in the same year accompanied a Combined Oxford-Cambridge cricket team to Holland, Norway and Denmark. He acquired MCC membership in 1968.
In 2000-01, Aizaz accepted the invitation of General Tauquir Zia to manage the Pakistan team with Javed Miandad as the Team Coach, on a tour of New Zealand.
Belonging to a well-to-do family with business interests in Khairpur, Aizaz had moved to the then-capital of Pakistan, Karachi in the early 1960s but buried in his beloved city of Lahore, leaving behind a widow, two sons and a daughter.
Note: Special thanks for photos to Fakir Iqtidaruddin, son of Aizaz-ud-din.