Abdul Aziz is not a name that springs readily to cricket followers’ lips. But in 1959 the young lad had an eventful season. In January, playing in a semi-final of a Quaid-i-Azam match, Abdul went in at No. 8 for Karachi against Bahawalpur to join his captain and opening batsman Hanif Muhammad. He played solidly and reached 9 with little trouble when his partner called him for a second run. Abdul Aziz thought this unwise but, as his skipper was running to the danger end, he did as he was told and went for it.
Hearing an appeal from the other end, he turned to see the umpire’s finger rising and his skipper well out of his ground. Abdul Aziz thus had the dubious honor of being involved in the run-out of Hanif Mohammad while the great man was going for his 500th run. Hanif immediately declared the innings at 772 for 7 and his 499 stands as the highest individual score in first-class cricket till Brian Lara break the records in 1994 against Dhuram.
Later that same season ‘vicious spin’ took a more sinister meaning for poor Abdul. Still only 18, he took a sharply turning delivery from a Services XI off-spinner Dildar Awan on the chest and collapsed. He was carried off, so ‘retired hurt’ from his innings, and was rushed to hospital, where he never regained consciousness. His second-innings scorebook entry was a tragic ‘absent dead’. A heart condition that was undiagnosed may have been aggravated by the blow.
Abdul Aziz was born in Karachi in 1941 and died on 17 January 1959 at the age of 18. While studying at S. M. College, he worked at Pakistan State Bank. The Abdul Aziz brothers played first-class cricket too: Abdul Kadir played one match for the North-West Frontier Province, and Abdur Rasheed played 28 matches in the period 1953/54 to 1964/65.
Abdul Aziz the wicketkeeper-batsman played 8 first-class matches, and he scored 149 runs with the best of 35, including 17 catches and 5 stampings. The tragic story of the young lad comes to an end at a very early age.