(Reuters) - Pakistan cricket great Abdul Qadir, who revived the art of leg-spin bowling, has died at the age of 63, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Friday.
Pakistani media reported that he died of cardiac arrest.
Qadir made his Pakistan debut in 1977 in Lahore and went on to play 67 tests and 104 one-day internationals, claiming a total of 368 wickets.
The PCB wrote on Twitter: “PCB is shocked at the news of ‘maestro’ Abdul Qadir’s passing and has offered its deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
Qadir was an influential figure in Pakistan’s most successful teams in the 1980s and later a mentor to the next generation of leg-spinners, including Australia’s Shane Warne and Pakistan’s Mushtaq Ahmed.
Commentating for Sky Sports during the fourth Ashes test between England and Australia, Warne said Qadir was a “brilliant, brilliant bowler.”
“I had the opportunity to meet him in 1994 on my first tour to Pakistan,” the Australian said.
“I think a lot of people who bowled leg-spin, like I did, he was the guy who we looked up to in the eighties. He was the main leg-spinner in that era.
“He was a terrific bowler who bamboozled a lot of batsmen. His record is a terrific one.”
Renowned for his fairly long run-up and a unique bowling action, Qadir was almost unplayable on pitches in Pakistan and one of the favourites of former captain Imran Khan — now the country’s Prime Minister.
Qadir reserved his finest performances for England and his spell of 9-56 in Lahore in 1987 is still the best by a Pakistan bowler in a test innings.
“He would always ask you whether you had picked the googly,” former England captain David Gower told Sky Sports. “‘Have you picked it?’ he would tease. A lovely guy, with a huge skillset. Our condolences to all close to him.”
After retiring from the sport, he served as the chief selector for Pakistan.
“They called him the magician for many reasons but when he looked me in the eyes & told me I was going to play for Pakistan for the next 20 years, I believed him,” former Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram wrote on Twitter.
“A Magician, absolutely. A leg spinner & a trailblazer of his time.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis