Pakistan’s oldest Test cricketer dies aged 88


Former Pakistan allrounder Israr Ali died in his hometown of Okara on February 1 at the age of 88. He was Pakistan’s oldest living Test cricketer and had played four Tests for the country between 1952 and 1959. He died of a pneumonia attack.

Ali played 40 first-class games, taking 114 wickets at 22.63 and scoring 1130 runs at 20.54. He had begun his career playing for Punjab in 1946-47 before Pakistan and India were partitioned, and then toured India as part of the Pakistan Test side in 1952-53. He played only two Tests on that tour, and was then was recalled to the side for two Tests against Australia in 1959-60. While interacting with media in 2012, Ali recalled how he had dismissed Australia opener Les Favell in all four innings without the assistance of fielders.

He had said that one of his biggest regrets was a fallout with Pakistan captain Abdul Hafeez Kardar, which Ali believes shortened his international career.

After his playing career, Ali stayed involved in cricket administration and was president of the Multan region from 1981 to 1982, and a member of Pakistan’s selection committee in 1983 and 1984, before he decided to move away from the game. “I parted from cricket after 1987, maybe because I was losing the passion, and decided to stay back in Okara,” Ali had said when he was 85 years old.

Israr had been living a humble life in Okara, nearly 85 miles away from Lahore. The agricultural town has fertile land with fields of potato, tomato, sugarcane, wheat, rice and corn and in sports it is a significant nursery for hockey. Ali had been living a quiet life up until the time of his death.