What would be your first reaction to know that a national level badminton and carom player had the biggest impact on the cricketing legacy of an entire nation? Surpise? Shock? Dismay?
Even more astonishing would be the fact that the nation is Pakistan and the person mentioned above is a woman. This woman, Ameer Bee, holds the distinction of being the mother of 4 international cricketers. And it’s only because of bad luck that a fifth son missed playing for his country but came as close as being the 12th man.
These illustrious sons were Hanif Mohammad, Wazir Mohammad, Mushtaq Mohammad, Sadiq Mohammad. The only who couldn’t make it to the international circuit was Raees Mohammad who played first class cricket for his country. But former Australian cricketer Keith Miller’s opinion about him that,” Had I been asked to name a potential Test player it would most certainly have been this one member of the family who just missed out,” goes on to prove how unlucky he was.
The Mohammads lived in Junagarh, a princely state in Gujarat in pre-Independence India and moved to Pakistan in 1947 after riots broke out in the nation after the creation of two separate nations divided along religious lines. Ameer Bee’s husband died a few years after coming to Pakistan and it was she who singlehandedly brought up her five sons with occasional help from her brother. Her sons consider her the real motivational force behind the success of them all.
Two of her sons, Hanif and Wazir, made their debut for Pakistan in her first series as a member of the Imperial Cricket Conference, now known as International Cricket Council. Hanif Mohammad, popularly known as the Little Master went on to play 55 test matches for his country as an opener. But he is more often remembered for his 337 for which he 16+ hours on the crease facing the wrath of the West Indies’ fast bowlers and the sun. Wazir Mohammad, though only played 20 tests, had a big role in all of Pak’s initial victories.
The younger sons, Mushtaq and Saeed, started their international careers in late 50’s and 60’s respectively and played ODIs as well. Mushtaq Mohammad holds the unique distinction of being the youngest centurion in Test history. He was also the coach of the Pakistan team that reached the final of 1999 world cup. Sadiq Mohammad turned out to be the only left hander in the family who had an incredible run for the country opening with Majid Khan.
Ameer Bee was a woman of determination which can be realized from the fact how she encouraged her son, Hanif, to play in the Pakistan in India series of 1960. He had recently undergone an operation for a feet infection which led to the removal of his toe nails which wouldn’t start growing till the last match of the series. But as history suggests, India-Pakistan rivalry cannot be taken lightly and she made sure her son did this for the country. Hanif’s highest score in the series was 160 in the first test match despite the refusal to provide a runner by Indian captain Nari Contractor.
But that didn’t mean Ameer Bee didn’t have a soft side to her. She once asked her son Wazir to request Wes Hall not to bowl bouncers at Hanif. Her concern was genuine because of her son’s short height.
Calling Ameer Bee the mother of Pakistan Cricket wouldn’t be an exaggeration as the Mohammads played in 101 tests for their country, starting from 1952 with Hanif’s debut to Sadiq’s retirement in 1981, from laying the foundations of cricket in the country to strengthening them. Her grandson Shoaib Mohammad also appeared in 45 tests and 63 ODIs for the country. She passed away in 1992 and the cricket loving nation of Pakistan will always be in her debt for the rich legacy she bequeathed them with.