Pakistan cricket has been notorious for throwing its young lot in at the deepest end without much consideration—field them when raw and fresh being its motto.
This list of youngest Test cricketers includes 33 Pakistani cricketers with Hasan Raza holding the record for being the youngest ever to take the field in a Test match. The ODI list has a fair share of Pakistanis as well.
There are honourable awards handed out to Hanif Mohammad, Aaqib Javed, Imran Nazir, Majid Khan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Malik and even Imran Farhat, but here we list the five who really made an impact on Pakistan cricket right from their teens and ended up becoming superstars before cutting the cake on their 20th birthday.
Disclaimer: With Pakistan cricket, you’re never really sure about exact ages. The above mentioned and those who made the cut are chosen based on the official age mentioned, which might not be the same as their real age.
Arguably the most popular cricketer in Pakistan and among Pakistani fans around the globe—his support is now divided—Afridi was surprisingly drafted into the national squad as a leg-spinner who could bat.
With Pakistan needing to beat Sri Lanka by a huge margin in Nairobi, Afridi was sent in at one down, notorious for his ability to use the long handle. It was his second One-Day International but his first outing with the bat. The next 37 balls that he faced made him an instant star, overtaking all those who came before him and after him in terms of popularity.
Afridi went onto become Pakistan captain—in all three formats—and has scored over 7,000 ODI runs while also taking over 350 wickets in the format. His latest comeback consisted of a whirlwind half-century and a career-best seven-wicket haul against the West Indies, with his supporters and the national chief selectors beaming with pride.
Arguably the best batsman Pakistan has produced, Javed Miandad was a typical street cricketer—finding gaps, opting for singles and doubles and prizing his wicket.
He was the architect of Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup triumph as far as the batting was concerned and went on to represent his country in the 1996 mega event as well, becoming the only cricketer to have played in all six World Cups until then.
Miandad scored over 16,000 international runs, took 24 wickets and became Pakistan’s youngest captain. He is often remembered for that last-ball six off Chetan Sharma in Sharjah but Miandad’s contribution to Pakistan cricket went far beyond that.
He also became Pakistan’s coach on three occasions but was unable to stay in that position for long despite results coming his way.
Speed, swing, seam, aggression and the ability to clear the ropes with bat in hand—Wasim Akram was as ideal as cricketers, especially all-rounders, should be.
Perhaps the best left-arm fast-bowler ever—with 414 Test wickets and 502 ODI scalps—Akram ran in off a short run-up but produced lethal deliveries at will. His Test best of 257 against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura and two other centuries are testament to the fact that he was a capable batsman as well.
Him cleaning up Alan Lamb and Chris Lewis off consecutive balls in the 1992 World Cup final still sends fans into delight.
Despite giving up cricket almost a decade ago, Akram is still in demand all over the world—coaching, commentary and now his second marriage.
When Waqar Younis was in form, batsmen feared for their toes rather than the stumps.
The art of late swing and toe-crushing yorkers was never displayed in a better, more accurate manner than with Waqar steaming in. In his early days, Waqar was one of the fastest bowlers ever, and with swing complementing the express pace, the Burewala Express remained the most feared bowler of his time.
Injury-prone, Waqar suffered the first of many when he had his little finger removed after injuring it when he jumped into a canal. He recovered from that to be picked by Imran Khan for the national side at the back of just six first-class matches. He missed the 1992 World Cup but returned soon after to torment the English in their own backyard.
Waqar was leading Pakistan in the disastrous 2003 World Cup campaign where his team managed wins against Netherlands and Namibia only and was dumped from the side soon after. However, he returned for one final hurrah, taking career-best hauls in England before being sidelined once again.
Waqar was Pakistan’s coach at the 2011 World Cup where his team lost to India in the semi-finals. He gave up the position later that year, citing health issues.
Amir made his presence felt at the 2009 World Twenty20 that Pakistan won under Younus Khan. Of a slim frame, Amir had his share of injuries even before he made it to the national squad—a stress fracture and dengue fever being the notable ones. At 15 he was a prodigy turned cricket casualty. Two years on, he was Pakistan cricket's next big thing, bringing speed, seam, swing and intelligence of a maestro to the middle. He bowled with brilliance and talked of it with a doctorate in his hand.
Wishing to make enough money to ensure a comfortable life for his family, Amir stepped over the line when he agreed to and bowled a no-ball in return for money against England at Lord’s. He was subsequently jailed for six months and banned for five years by the International Cricket Council.