Wasim Bari born March 23, 1948, Karachi, Sindh is a former Pakistani cricketer who played in 81 Tests and 51 ODIs from 1967 to 1984. Bari was a wicket-keeper and right-handed batsman. At the end of his 17 year career he was the most capped player in Pakistani Test history.
His talent was first recognised in 1967 with members of the England under 25 team stating that he was the best keeper to come out of the South Asia. It was in England where he made his Test debut, with Colin Milburn being his first dismissal. With the bat he only managed 15.88 per innings in his career but played some famous innings for Pakistan. There were none more famous than his unbeaten 60 from number 11, in which he made a last wicket partnership of 133 with Wasim Raja.
According to Tony Greig, commentator and former England captain, most people believe Alan Knott was the best wicket-keeper to have played the game in that era but Knott himself believed Bari was better than him.
In 1971 at Leeds, he equalled the then world record of 8 catches in a Test match. He was in the record books again in 1976/77 by stumpings 4 batsmen in a Test, against the Australians. In 1979 against New Zealand he caught 7 of the first 8 batsmen, creating a world record for most dismissals in a Test innings. He finished his Test career with 228 Test victims, the most by a Pakistani and to this day the most by a South Asian keeper.
For a nation which has produced glovemen of quality but not of the calibre to be tagged as greats, Wasim Bari stands out by a distance. He was not spectacular in the mould of a Rodney Marsh or a Jeffrey Dujon. Acrobatic dives and stunning catches were not his forte. That said, one must acknowledge that Bari was an exceptionally safe `keeper, one very close to the best of his era.
As the skipper, and the team’s only really fast bowler, Imran Khan had complete faith in Bari’s ability and dissuaded him from prematurely calling it quits on a couple of occasions. For someone who was not thoroughly tested against pace, it was a tribute that Imran thought that he was as good as England’s Alan Knott. Bari went on to play 81 Tests, in which he had 228 victims against his name, 27 of them stumpings. In terms of both the number of Tests and scalps behind the stumps, Bari’s statistics still survive as a Pakistan record two decades after he hung his gloves.
Bari was also a competent late-order batsman whose figures fail to reflect his true ability in this sphere; his 19 ducks are a Pakistan record. He, however, managed 1,366 runs in 112 innings, with six scores of 50-plus being his major innings.
Bari had a brief stint as a stop-gap captain, on back to back home and away short rubbers against England when the Kerry Packer storm was raging in full fury. At home, on placid wickets custom-made to ensure dreary draws, Pakistan predictably held firm under him, winning none, losing none: On the away tour, the side was badly mauled, losing two Tests, with rain ensuring a draw in the third.
Bari was honored by the PCB with the Life Achievement Award in 1997, on the nation’s Golden Jubilee of Independence, perhaps due less to the sum total of his contribution behind or in front the stumps, than his being an integral part of the 70s and 80s side which achieved quite a few distinctions and was rated among the best in contemporary cricket. He went on to become the head of Pakistan’s selection panel.
Wasim Bari Pictures