Majid Khan: The Glamorgan YearsMartin Chandler |
Author: Battersby, David
Rating: 4.5 stars
For those of us of a certain age the county cricket of our youth is as memorable as anything we have seen since, anywhere in the world. In some ways the game was less enlightened than it is now, and a combination of restrictive practices and greater loyalty meant that cricketers stayed with counties throughout their playing careers. That generalisation didn’t just apply to home players, but to overseas ones as well.
In Lancashire we had, and still have, Farokh Engineer and Clive Lloyd, who were with the county for years. In Glamorgan the cricketing fraternity have their very own legendary overseas player in Majid Khan, who joined them in 1968 and stayed with the Welsh county until 1976. He may live in Islamabad these days, but is as close to the hearts of men like Battersby now as he was half a century ago.
Given his genius on the field of play, and the interest in him and his family generally it is surprising that no significant book by or about Majid has ever appeared. That is not to say that there aren’t biographies, as there are two, both written by the same author, published in Pakistan and very difficult to source copies of anywhere else. So whilst Battersby’s tribute to Majid does not purport to be a biography, it is nonetheless a most welcome book.
Majid Khan: The Glamorgan Years would have been an easy book to write just from memory and contemporary reports, but there is much more to it than that. To begin with, and not for the first time, the author has engaged the assistance of Najum Latif, the curator of the Cricket Museum at the Lahore Gymkhana club, who has contributed several previously unpublished photographs and, as importantly, a scholarly first chapter unravelling the heritage of the Burki/Khan families, more than forty of whom have appeared in First Class cricket.
Most compelling is the assistance and memories of Majid himself, who David Battersby had the great pleasure of meeting twice whilst visiting Pakistan during England’s series there in December of last year, his hero reciprocating an invitation to dine with him at his hotel by entertaining him at his home.
Also enlisted is Roger Davis, a teammate of Majid’s throughout his time at Glamorgan, and the bowler who suffered most at his hands during the innings of 147 that Majid made against Glamorgan for the touring Pakistanis in 1967, the innings which persuaded the county to immediately offer Majid a contract for the following summer. Davis contributes a perceptive foreword and whilst the book might not be a biography that, and David Battersby’s introduction, do contain full details of the two best known aspects of Majid’s life, his passion for ice cream and the story of the tatty old hat he batted in for several years.
The main part of the book is, not unexpectedly in view of the sub title, a season by season look at Majid’s Glamorgan career, dwelling at some length on a remarkable innings of 156 that Majid played against Worcestershire at Sophia Gardens at the end of the 1969 season to help clinch that summer’s County Championship. And just in case the reader felt this was a feel good story throughout, the book also deals with the differences of opinion that led to the end of Majid’s time with the county in 1976.
All in all Majid Khan: The Glamorgan Years is an excellent read, and not just for Glamorgan supporters of a certain age. Anyone interested in all or any of Majid Khan, his wider family or county cricket in the late 1960s and early 1970s would be well advised to pick up a copy, and to do so quickly given that the book appears in a limited edition of just 156 copies, the first 59 of which come with a card featuring a small scale reproduction of the photograph on the front cover signed by Majid. At £16 inclusive of UK postage and packing it is something of a steal. Interested purchasers should email email@example.com