The death of Margaret Thatcher has prompted a bout of 80s nostalgia in the international media. In the United Kingdom, opinion is divided on whether Thatcher was a disaster or a savior for the nation, but one thing can be agreed on: the decade was a golden age for cricket.
Each major test-playing nation had a genuine star and most were all-rounders – players who could bat and ball. A good all-rounder is like gold dust.
England had the amazing Ian “Beefy” Botham, New Zealand had the elegant Richard Hadlee, India had the amazing Kapil Dev, while Pakistan had Imran Khan. These four players were giants of the global game and it was almost as fun to watch them play as it was to debate who was number one.
Perhaps Dev put it best: “(Richard) Hadlee was by far the better bowler amongst us, (Ian) Botham the best batsman, and Imran Khan was the best leader… I mean handling those (Pakistani) guys. I told him before you handle your country, handle your team. He was also the better all-rounder. But I was best athlete amongst all.”
As well as the talent, Khan had the looks and the charisma and as Dev hinted the skills to lead and inspire others.
In 1996, four years after he ended his international cricket career, Khan applied his leadership skills in a new direction, founding a political party named Pakistan Tehreek –e-Insaaf. While Khan has struggled at times to be seen as a serious politician, he is set to run for parliament in Pakistan’s national elections on May 11.
He has called for change in the country and is putting youth at the forefront of his campaign.
Khan has been a major critic of US drone attacks in Pakistan and has claimed that they are a major obstacle to ending terrorism in the country.
In 2012, he led a march to the north-western region of Waziristan, which has been hit hard by drone attacks.
“These strikes have not reduced militancy; in fact are a major stimulant to terrorism,” Khan said. “This particular fact has even been pointed out by studies carried out by Stanford and New York University law schools. Most neutral observers have also come to a similar conclusion.”
According to Khan, the best way for the militancy to stop is to end the alliance with the United States.
“Unless we get out of this partnership with the United States, a hard core nucleus of militancy will continue to use it as a motivational tool for preparing suicide bombers,” he added. “It is the suicide bombers that have resulted in the tragedy of nearly 40,000 people being martyred in Pakistan.”
If the elections go well for Khan in May, the United States could hear a lot more from this politician, who was once a star of world cricket.