The Unquiet Ones: A history of Pakistan cricket – Osman Samiuddin – Book Review


The story of Pakistan cricket is dramatic, tortured, heroic and tumultuous.

From a beginning with nothing after the Partition of 1947 to the jubilation of its victory against England at the Oval in 1954; from earning its Test status and competing with the best to sealing a golden age by winning the World Cup in 1992; from its magic in Sharjah to an era-defining low in the new millennium: Pakistan’s cricketing fortunes have never ceased to thrill.

This book is the story of those fortunes and how, in the process, the game transformed from an urban, exclusive sport into a glue uniting millions in a vast, disparate country. Osman Samiuddin captures the jazba of the men who played for Pakistan, celebrates their headiest moments and many upheavals, and brings to life some of their most famous—and infamous—contests, tours and moments.

Ambitious, spirited and often heartbreaking, ‘The Unquiet Ones’ is a comprehensive portrait of not just a Pakistani sport, but a national majboori, a compulsion whose outcome can surprise and shock, and can become the barometer of everyday life in Pakistan, tailing its ups and downs, its moods and character.


An enduring image of my childhood days remains Imran Khan taking that tall leap just before he delivered his ball. So much so that I modeled my own amateur and sometimes effective fast bowling action (tennis ball only, mind you) on him. That was the craze and passion that the tall Pathan evoked in me in those heady days. It therefore follows that any book on cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular would be gobbled up by me quite happily, and The Unquiet Ones: A history of Pakistan cricket by Osman Samiuddin is so well researched and well written that it was quite an easy read.

The term ‘easy read’ takes nothing away from the relatively painstaking research and the amount of hard work that has gone into this book. After all, going back more than 75+ years to the early 1930s when the Gentleman’s Game starting taking root in the subcontinent and spanning seven plus decades till around 2010 without resorting to the easily taken route of just presenting statistics and easily available nuggets of information from publicly available sources will result in a well written book, won’t it. The author’s passion for the game of cricket and Pakistan cricket in particular can easily be gleaned not only from the fact that he is a contributing editor to but also from the manner in which he has approached this book.

While tackling the characters and events in a chronological manner, he also goes on to analyze and detail in an easy to understand fashion how these characters and events went on to fashion Pakistan cricket to leave it in the state that it currently finds itself in. Ranging from the very first superstars Kardar and Fazal, moving on to the Mohammed brother trio, and then to Imran, Miandad, Akram and Waqar and finally ending up with Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik and Misbah-Ul-Haq, this book covers all noteworthy cricketers till date.

What I found particularly interesting in the book was the more than half the book is probably devoted to something that us normal cricketing fans are not usually exposed to, the nitty-gritty of cricket administration. And anybody who reads newspapers and watches the news on TV must be well aware of the fact that cricket administration in Pakistan has been anything but steady, efficient and excellent. The author explains in great detail as to how the same has evolved over the years and finally concludes that as far as Pakistan goes, cricket administration in the country seems to mirror the political system and structure that the country itself experiences. While that was something that I was aware of, the fact that politics and cricket administration are so tightly coupled was not something that I quite knew of.

If you have ever been a fan of Pakistan cricket or cricket in general, then for sure, this is one must-read book. Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in return for a honest and unbiased review of the same.


kidscricketBack in the days when I was younger, fitter and more competitive, playtime meant physical activity of a competitive nature on the open ground opposite my house in Sanjaynagar, Bangalore. I still fondly remember the days when me and my friends used to wait for the summer vacations or Pooja holidays at our respective schools, as this meant that we could pretty much spend the whole day in the ground playing cricket or football, depending on which World Cup was playing on our TV screens. Right from perfecting the in-swinging yorkers and that lovely ‘Sachin-esque’ straight drive to dribbling past defenders and scoring that lovely goal, our days were spent in perfecting these elusive pieces of art from what we saw on TV.

And when it was either too hot to be playing outdoors or raining outside, then the group would immediately shift the action indoors and play games like Business (Indian version of Monopoly), carom, Scotland Yard or some such random game to while away our time. Once the first computer arrived home, our indoor games comprised mostly of FIFA 97 or other First Person Shooter games with each of us taking turns after specified time intervals.

Five-Minute-Carrom-Board-RulesThe three of us, who still remain close friends, retain very fond memories of those days before life caught up with us and we had to focus on more ‘important’ things like college, assignments, entrance exams and the like.

Even at college, my concept of playtime continued with weekend basketball, cricket and football outings on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Although these were less competitive than earlier, I still retained that hunger to win and enjoyed a good physical workout more than ever before.

However, it was only when ‘work’ officially began after my graduation that ‘playtime’ as a concept took a backseat making only occasional appearances in the form of cricket practice or football in those offshore team outings at resorts across South India. But then, these were hardly competitive and were more indulged in for the ‘fun factor’ rather than being serious in nature. ‘Playing to win’ was done only within the four walls of an office now rather than out there on the playground.

It was only a couple of years ago, when my daughter started walking, did ‘playtime’ make a serious comeback in my life. However, it now involved her playthings like rattles, dolls, toys that drummed, etc. Playing with her to try and improve her hand-eye co-ordination and other similar exercises continue till date and I hope she will deem me ‘friends’ enough with her for a while longer when I introduce her to badminton on the streets and other similar physical activities.

However, for now, I have to content myself with taking her to the children’s’ park in the neighborhood and supervise her coming down the various slides and helping her swing to and fro there.

I am sure all of you readers have fond memories of your ‘playtime’ from the years gone by. Go on, use the comments section to regale the rest of us with these stories.


This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to write about what playtime means to me.

Sachin Tendulkar – An anticlimactic last innings

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At the outset let me first confess that I am as big a fan of Sachin Tendulkar as the average Indian male who follows cricket. While I have had issues with him in the past and have privately accused him of delaying his retirement for purely selfish reasons and for chasing personal records such as the 100th 100 by relegating Team India’s interests to the background, I am as big a fan of Sachin as can ever get. I also belong to the millions of Indians who used to be glued to a TV every time he stepped out on to a cricket field to bat during his glory days, I am somebody who bunked college for 5 continuous days when Sachin almost brought us victory with that wonderful knock at Chepauk against Pakistan. Therefore, this post is not something that came easily to me, and involved quite a bit of objective thinking. It is NOT to be construed as ‘Tendulkar-bashing’ which a lot of online trolls indulge in.

While it is a well known fact that Bradman scored a ‘duck’ in his last innings which went to ensure that his career batting average was 99.94 runs, most of the other renowned batsmen of their eras also ended their careers in a not-so-memorable fashion. Here’s a sample list of their scores in their last matches –

  • Ricky Ponting – 4, 8
  • Allan Border – 17, 42
  • Steve Waugh – 40, 80
  • Brian Lara – 0, 49
  • Rahul Dravid – 1, 25
  • Vivian Richards – 2, 60
  • Sunil Gavaskar – 21, 96

It clearly goes to show that while these cricketers tended to dominate the bowling during their halcyon years, cricket, as the saying goes is a game of glorious uncertainties. No one player can ever be bigger than the game itself and the proof, as they say, lies in the pudding detailed above. None of these great batsmen could dictate their own innings in their last game, could they?

And as if it were poetic justice, Sachin Tendulkar joined this long list of illustrious batsmen with a well made 74. Had it been converted into a century, then at some level maybe, just maybe, Tendulkar would have managed to outwit most of the above mentioned greats and elevate himself to yet another plane, but in typical Tendulkar fashion, he probably managed to underplay his contributions to Indian cricket, even on his way out.

Thank you Sachin, for all the wonderful memories, for always remaining an inspiration for all of us who have observed your career and the way you carried yourself, from the sidelines.

God walks back into the pavilion

During  the course of his 20 yr old cricketing career, he had seen enough stadiums, played in front of enough crowds, amassed a crazy amount of runs, won many Man-of-the-match awards, but there was one thing that he had never managed to do.

He had never managed to perform so badly as to get the crowd to boo him off a cricketing field.

And that is the reason that he is called the “God” of cricket.



This post is my tribute to Sachin Tendulkar [Link to Wikipedia] who retires from cricket in a few days from now. Here’s tipping my hat to probably the best cricketer that my generation has had the pleasure and privilege of watching and enjoying.


This post has been written for the Trifecta Week 101 writing challenge where the post has to include the following definition of boo : to show dislike or disapproval of someone or something by shouting boo

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The end of an era

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