Imran Khan Niazi, popularly known as Imran Khan is indisputably the greatest cricketer to emerge from Pakistan, and arguably the world's second-best all-rounder after Garry Sobers. He took a mediocre side and transformed them into world-beaters, leading them to the World Cup title in 1992. With 3807 runs and 362 wickets in Test cricket, he is one of eight world cricketers to have achieved an 'All-rounder's Triple' in Test matches.
Imran Khan was born on 25th November 1952 in Lahore into a family of Pashtun origin. A quiet and shy boy in his youth, Khan grew up with his four sisters in relatively affluent (upper middle-class) circumstances and received a privileged education. He was educated at Atchison College in Lahore, the Royal Grammar School Worcester in England, where he excelled at cricket, and in 1972 he enrolled to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Keble College, Oxford, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Khan's mother hailed from the Burki family which had produced several successful cricketers, including such household names as cricketers Javed Burki, Majid Khan and, paternally (from the Niazi tribe then), to Misbah-ul-Haq.
Following the footsteps of his cousins, Khan started playing cricket since the age of 13. Khan made a lacklustre first-class cricket debut at the age of sixteen in Lahore. Later, Imran had to put cricket to the side and focus more on his studies.
Imran Khan made his debut for Pakistan at the age of 18 during the 1971 English series at Birmingham. During this tour, he was fined many times by the management because he was looked upon by his peers as being a very snobby and wild player. Also on this tour, Imran did not play as well and Pakistan was costled to settle for a draw. Three years later, he debuted in the One Day International (ODI) match, once again playing against England at Nottingham for the Prudential Trophy.
When Imran was twenty-one, he was admitted to Oxford University. For three years he studied economics and politics. In 1974 Pakistan toured England and therefore he was selected because of his form for Oxford University and his experience with speaking English, though he failed to make any mark on the tour.
After graduating from Oxford, Imran returned to Pakistan after being away for four years in 1976. During the 1976-77 season, Imran got a place in the Pakistan cricket team. He had impressed the selectors with his fantastic bowling. Later he moved to play with Sussex. The biggest reason for Imran to do this was because of his love affairs with the nightlife of London. During the time he had been playing for other teams, Imran had become quite a big star. At this point he had become the "father" of the reverse swing and the reverse swinging yorker became his lethal weapon in the following years. His most famous partner was Sarfaraz Nawaz. At this point, not only was he playing well, but had basically become a superstar.
His credentials as one of the fastest bowlers of the world started to become established when he finished third at 139.7 km/h in a fast bowling contest at Perth in 1978, behind Jeff Thomson and Michael Holding, but ahead of Dennis Lillee, Garth Le Roux and Andy Roberts. As a fast bowler, Khan reached the peak of his powers in 1982. In 9 Tests, he got 62 wickets at 13.29 each, the lowest average of any bowler in Test history with at least 50 wickets in a calendar year.
During the early 80's Imran was not only at his cricketing peak, but had quite a few relations with women. He had a relationship with Susannah Costantine, ex-model Marie Helving, and artist Emma Sargeant. Some of his relations ended simply because of difference in culture and because of the busy and travelling life of Imran. He brought some of his relationships back home to Pakistan in which he was frowned upon because he was an individual of Muslim faith.
At the height of his career, in 1982, the thirty-year-old Khan took over the captaincy of the Pakistan cricket team from Javed Miandad. As a captain, Khan played 48 Test matches, out of which 14 were won by Pakistan, 8 lost and the rest of 26 were drawn. He also played 139 ODIs, winning 77, losing 57 and ending one in a tie. In fact, one of the stand-out aspects of Imran Khan was the manner in which he lifted his performances when he became captain: in the 48 Tests in which he led Pakistan he averaged 52.34 with the bat and 20.26 with the ball. In the team's second match, Khan led them to their first Test win on English soil for 28 years at Lord's. In the same year in a test series against India Khan suffered a stress fracture in his shin that kept him out of cricket for more than two years. An experimental treatment funded by the Pakistani government helped him recover by the end of 1984 and he made a successful comeback to international cricket in the latter part of the 1984–1985 season. Because of his injury, Imran was able to put bowling to the side and concentrate more on his batting. Imran improved his batting greatly which led him to his first century in a one day match.
In 1987, Imran decided to retire from cricket. Javed Miandad took his place but the team was in somewhat of crisis and could not return to its winning ways. President Zia put a lot of pressure on Imran; therefore he was back as a captain in 1988.
Khan's career-high as a captain and cricketer came when he led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup. Playing with a brittle batting line-up, Khan promoted himself as a batsman to play in the top order along with Javed Miandad, but his contribution as a bowler was minimal.
Imran Khan focused more on social work and community development after retiring from international cricket. He founded Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust in 1991, which actively worked on the research and development of cancer and other related diseases. This was instigated by his mother’s untimely death who died of cancer.
Imran Khan married Jemina Marcelle in 1995 and the marriage ended in 2004. There were also rumours of Imran Khan dating Pakistani politician late Benazir Bhutto.
After turning his dream project into reality and interacting with the poorest sections of the society, Imran Khan decided that there was a need of change, a revolution which was only possible through politics. He wanted to serve the people who gave him such respect and honour.
In 1997, he initiated his own political party ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) to focus on justice for the common through an independent judiciary, accountability of the elite and promotion of democracy. His penchant to eradicate corruption from the country remained the utmost priority on his political mandate.
On 14 July 2010, Khan was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
"As a batsman, he could bat anywhere in the top six, sometimes in the top four, and play any type of innings depending on the circumstance of the game. As a bowler, he was a potent strike bowler ... His record suggests he was a fine bowler. He was also a charismatic person, a good and successful captain for Pakistan. He had a lot of respect, he had the package," Richard Hadlee