The sudden death of spin maestro Abdul Qadir on September 6, 2019 at the age of 63, nine days short of his next birthday, shocked the entire cricket community and fans not only in Pakistan but also around the globe who admired the way he skillfully practiced the rare and nearly extinct art of wrist spin bowling. With his debut, Qadir showed to the cricketing world that here was someone who would shine like a beacon as a bowler of a highest quality. Apart from being a genius with the ball, Qadir was a larger-than-life figure who was adored, loved and respected across the globe due to his excellent understanding and knowledge of the game, and strong cricket ethics and discipline. Qadir played a key role in the rebirth of leg-spin and was a vital component of the Pakistan sides of the 1980s. Pakistan legend Wasim Akram, who made his Test debut when Qadir was part of the same side, described the wrist-spinner as a “magician” in a tribute he posted on Twitter. Wasim wrote: “They called him the magician for many reasons but when he looked me in the eyes and told me I was going to play for Pakistan for the next 20 years, I believed him. “A Magician, absolutely. A leg spinner & a trailblazer of his time. You will be missed Abdul Qadir but never forgotten.” Legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne — the second highest Test wicket-taker with 708 (only behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan’s 800) — was also a big fan of Qadir.Pakistan’s spin wizard Qadir was laid to rest on September 7, 2019 (Saturday), after his funeral prayers, at Mian Mir Graveyard in Lahore. A large number of national, international cricket players, officials and office-bearers were present there to pay last homage to the Pakistan great. Known for his quick wit, his infectious smile, and his kind and compassionate spirit, Qadir is survived by his wife and five children: four sons and one daughter. Qadir’s four sons—Rehman Qadir, Imran Qadir, Sulaman Qadir and Usman Qadir are also cricketers and played Pakistan’s domestic grade circuit. Qadir’s daughter Noor Amina is married Pakistan cricketer Umar Akmal. The English have proved profitable opponents for several Pakistan leggies, but Qadir was the first who made them bleed. His finest hour, too, would come against England. Qadir’s nine for 56 against England at Lahore in November 1987 remain the best Test figures by a Pakistan bowler. He took 13 wickets in the match as Pakistan won by an innings and 87 runs. Born on September 15, 1955 in Lahore, natural talent combined with aggression and passion made Qadir one of the most successful spinners of his era. Former captain Imran Khan was to be a key influence on his career, one of the few capable of getting the best out of Qadir the man and bowler. He had a distinct run-up, bounding in to the crease, and a great variety of deliveries: there was the orthodox leg-break, the topspinner, two googlies and the flipper. His fervent appeals made him a great favourite with the spectators but sometimes got him into trouble with umpires. Qadir played 67 Test matches during 1977–90 and took 236 wickets, with an average of 32.80, including 15 five-wicket hauls. He also scored 1,029 runs including three fifties. Qadir played 104 ODIs, claiming 132 wickets. Qadir played first-class cricket for Lahore, Punjab and Habib Bank Limited during 1975–95. During his first-class career, he achieved five or more wickets in an innings on seventy-five occasions, and ten or more wickets in a match twenty-one times. Qadir played 209 first-class matches and took 960 wickets with an average of 23.24. His best bowling figures for an innings were nine wickets for 56 runs, whereas his best performance for a match was 13 wickets for 101 runs. As a batsman, he scored 3,740 runs averaged 18.33 from 247 innings. He also scored two centuries and eight fifties. Qadir played his last first-class match in 1994.Imran Khan, now Prime Minister of Pakistan, paid rich tribute to the man’s skills. “With his death I have lost a close friend and a team-mate and that is hurtful. Qadir brightened Pakistan’s name in the cricket world.” In a tweet, Imran Khan said: “Qadir’s bowling statistics do not do justice to his genius. Had he been playing cricket now with the modern DRS system, where batsmen can be given out on the front foot as well, Qadir would have gotten as many wickets as the great Shane Warne.” Imran Khan transformed Qadir into a brilliant bowler during his captaincy and he always managed to get the best out of him. His bowling even made the mighty West Indian team clueless during the 1980’s. Up his sleeves he had a variety of tricks that he always unfolded to mystify any batsman on a helpful wicket. One of his brilliant and memorable performances was when West Indies toured Pakistan in mid 80s. He took 6 for 16 at Faisalabad in 1986-87 series against the West Indies to bowl them out for just 53 as the likes of Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson and Larry Gomes bowed out to him one after the other.Qadir’s wicket numbers have since been dwarfed by a number of modern spin greats but his impact on the genre is impossible to ignore. If there was a blot, it was India, whom he could never quite convince of his genius. Across a clutch of series –– he played as many as 16 Tests against them, in days when the two played regularly –– but only took 27 wickets. Cricket would have been poorer had it not been for the contribution of Qadir. The art of leg-spin bowling was dying during the decade of the 70s and it seemed that there would never be another leg spinner in the coming. Qadir ushered in a renaissance that made leg spin bowling a cherished art form. The legendary cricketer played his first Test against England in Lahore on December 14, 1977 and first ODI against New Zealand in Birmingham on June 11, 1983. He played his last international Test against West Indies in Lahore on December 6, 1990, while his last ODI was against Sri Lanka in Sharjah on November 2, 1993. In two World Cups, in 1983 and 1987, he was instrumental in Pakistan’s run to the semi-finals. Qadir was a fighter to the core. He also was a handy bat lower down the order. He played a few combative Test innings and some vital ODI ones. He once thumped Courtney Walsh for 13 runs in the last over of the match to give Pakistan a one wicket victory in the 1987 World Cup match at Lahore. Qadir was not successful as a captain. He captained the Pakistan cricket team in five ODIs during 1987–88 and 1988–89, losing four of them. He captained Pakistan for the first time against England in Pakistan, in the absence of regular captain Javed Miandad. Pakistan lost all three ODIs. Qadir captained Pakistan against Bangladesh and India in the fourth and fifth match of the 1988 Asia Cup respectively: Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by 173 runs, and lost to India by four wickets.With the emergence of Mushtaq Ahmad, Qadir retired from cricket in 1993. He had mentored Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria admirably. His influence was such that former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar once said: “Every Pakistani leg-spinner that came after Qadir had a bit of Qadir in him.” Qadir worked with Pakistan cricket in several capacities after his playing career was over and ran a private academy just outside Gaddafi Stadium. He became the chief selector of the PCB in 2008 but resigned after six months due to differences with the PCB. As a selector, he was instrumental in picking the Pakistan World T20 squad that won the tournament in England in 2009. It is impossible to believe that wrist-spin has ever been bowled better than Qadir. His legacy, among all spinners, is right up there. Rest in peace legend Qadir, you will be remembered and missed always!