Table of Contents
We’ve taken a look at players from each category, but now it’s time to consider the overall picture. Who are the best Pakistani cricketers of all time?
Who is the Greatest Pakistani Cricketer of All Time?
It’s a topic open for debate but, for many cricket fans, the best Pakistani player of all time was Imran Khan.
He achieved great success as a batsman and a bowler, and he was also the captain of the Pakistan side that won their first major ICC trophy at the 1992 World Cup.
Top 15 Pakistani Cricketers of All Time
Among the many contenders to be the best Pakistani cricket player ever is Imran Khan. He has plenty of competition, but he gets my vote because he was so superb in every single category.
As the national captain, he was in charge when the country won their first ever major ICC trophy. Imran was the skipper at the 1992 World Cup when Pakistan beat England in an unforgettable final.
Even if he hadn’t been in charge at that point, Imran would have surely made the list. He scored heavily with the bat and took 544 international wickets, and he was one of the best all-rounders in world cricket when he was at the peak of his powers.
One of the best left arm fast bowlers in world cricket, Wasim Akram was an explosive batsman and he had a decent record as Pakistan’s captain. He was a genuine all-rounder, but Wasim’s greatest contribution to Pakistani cricket was with the ball in hand.
With 414 scalps in 104 matches, Wasim Akram remains the leading test wicket taker for Pakistan, more than 20 years after he retired. Added to that list of victims are 502 wickets in ODIs and that’s also a national record.
As a batsman, Wasim scored more than 6,500 international runs in two formats with a top score of 257. There is an argument that he’s the best ever Pakistan international cricketer, but Imran’s abilities as a great leader see him edge that particular race.
He was a great leader of the team who skippered Pakistan in all three formats of the game. Misbah-ul-Haq may have made this list on his captaincy skills alone, and he also went on to take a stint as the national team coach.
But he’s mainly here for his batting. Many will think of Misbah as a big accumulator of runs in test cricket, but he was more than useful in the limited overs formats too.
In 75 tests between 2001 and 2017, he scored 5222 runs with ten centuries and a best of 161. Across the two limited overs international formats, Misbah added 5,900 runs. His strike rates in the short forms may have been low, but he remains one of Pakistan’s best ever cricketers.
He could often be a frustrating character. Shahid Afridi had great ability with bat in hand, but a rash shot would sometimes bring an end to his innings prematurely. That’s his reputation, but is that a fair assessment of Afridi’s career?
He famously made a century on his ODI debut and would go on to score 8064 runs in 398 games. Those are exceptional figures and they include six hundreds with a best of 124.
The man known as Boom Boom retired early from test cricket after a difficult spell as captain, but he made an impact in red ball internationals too. In 27 tests, Afridi made 1716 runs with five centuries and a top score of 156. In total, he made over 11,000 runs for Pakistan.
With the ball in hand, Shahid Afridi claimed 541 international wickets, so there is a genuine argument suggesting that he was the greatest all-rounder to emerge from Pakistan.
The fastest bowler in the history of world cricket, Shoaib Akhtar was the first to officially break the 100mph barrier. That genuine pace and hostility was his chief weapon, but Shoaib also had a cunningly disguised slower ball that would often completely confuse opposition batsmen.
The man known as the Rawalpindi Express struggled with injuries at times and those issues restricted him to 46 test appearances. He enjoyed longer spells in limited overs cricket, eventually winning 178 senior caps in the two formats.
Across those 224 international games, Shoaib Akhtar took 444 international wickets with best figures in an innings of 6/11.
Prior to the emergence of Shane Warne, Abdul Qadir was, for a long time, the only genuine world class leg spinner in the game. He didn’t have too many variations, aside from the googly, but his flight and extreme turn helped Qadir to take a vast amount of wickets.
His bowling figures of 9/56, made against England in Lahore in 1987, are a record for a Pakistani bowler and they are the eighth best in world cricket as of 2023.
Those nine victims are included in a total of 368 wickets that Abdul Qadir claimed in two international formats.
Inzaman-ul-Haq is, by some distance, the leading run scorer in ODIs for Pakistan, and he features highly in the test list too. He finished his career with 11,739 runs in the One Day International format and that huge tally included ten centuries and a top score of 137.
Inzy’s best score in test cricket, 329 made against New Zealand in 2002, is the second highest by a Pakistani batter in this format. That was one of 25 test centuries made by Inzaman and he finished with an exceptional average in this format of 49.60.
The Pakistan team of the mid-1970s was a competitive one, but their greatest strength lay in their batting. Along with some talented team mates, Zaheer Abbas was a world class batsman who would eventually become one of a handful of players to score 100 first class centuries.
At test level, Zaheer’s list of hundreds was restricted to 12, but we have to remember that fewer tests were played during his career. Over 78 test matches, he scored 12 centuries with a top score of 274. Zaheer Abbas also made seven tons in 62 ODIs and his efforts with the bat earned him the nickname of the ‘Asian Bradman.’
Together with his new ball partner Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis helped to reinvent the art of swing bowling. He had some serious pace at the height of his career and, when the conditions were in his favour, those fast inswinging yorkers were simply unplayable.
He also had a spell as the captain of Pakistan. It’s unusual for any team to employ a fast bowler in such a role, but the team enjoyed a high proportion of wins when he was in charge. But he will ultimately be remembered for his exceptional bowling.
In 87 test matches and 262 ODIs, Waqar took 789 international wickets. He is second on the lists for both formats, behind Wasim Akram in each case. It’s an exceptional return and, even without Waqar Younis’ surprisingly effective captaincy, he would have made it onto this list.
I never saw Hanif Mohammad play, but he was a prolific batsman and his statistics speak for themselves. His highest first class score of 499, made for Karachi against Bahawalpur in 1959 was a world record that stood for over 35 years before it was finally broken by Brian Lara.
In test cricket, Hanif Mohammad set another record for Pakistan that still stands. His 337 against the West Indies at Bridgetown in 1958 remains as the highest individual test score by a player from this country.
He was undoubtedly one of his country’s best ever batsmen and would finish his career with 3915 runs from 55 tests at an average of 43.98.
A ferocious competitor who led Pakistan’s batting for many years, Javed Miandad would go on to become one of his country’s leading run scorers in both tests and ODIs. He was also a proud captain for a brief spell, and this all-round package helps to make him one of his country’s best.
His record as a captain was mixed, but his sheer weight of runs makes Javed an obvious inclusion on this list of greatest Pakistani cricketers. In 357 matches across tests and One Day Internationals, he scored 16,213 runs with 31 centuries and a top score of 280 not out, which was made against India in 1983.
The highest run scorer in tests for Pakistan commands a place on this list. After playing in 118 red ball international matches between 2000 and 2017, Younis Khan’s tally of 10099 runs puts him way ahead of the chasing pack.
Six years after he retired, he remains as the only Pakistani batter to have scored 10,000 runs in tests. He scored heavily in ODIs too and was adaptable to any format. Younis’ top score of 313, made against Sri Lanka in 2009, is the third highest individual test score by a player from Pakistan. Quite simply, he was a prolific batsman and one of the best in the world at his peak.
Saeed Ajmal’s mystery spin was a potent weapon for Pakistan. Questions over his action reduced his number of appearances, but his statistics alone mean that he is a worthy inclusion on this list.
Surprisingly, he didn’t receive an international call up until the age of 30, but he quickly began to make up for lost time. Using the Doosra almost as much as his regular off spinner, his variations were his key weapons. His career in Pakistan colours was brief, as he played in 212 international matches from 2008 until 2015. In that time, Saeed Ajmal took 447 wickets and his best innings figures were 7/55.
Saqlain Mushtaq was one of the first right arm spinners to introduce a high number of variations into his deliveries. There are stories that he invented the ‘Doosra’ and, while this claim is disputed, he was certainly the first to really pioneer this mystery ball.
While form became an issue later in his career, Saqlain was unplayable when at his best. He became the fastest to reach 100 ODI wickets and he would eventually claim 288 victims in this format.
He played in just 49 tests, taking 208 wickets with best figures of 8/164. We’d like to have seen more of him, but Saqlain Mushtaq certainly made a great impression in a relatively short period of time.
He was a stylish batsman and many felt that Majid Khan’s style of play was very reminiscent of a bygone era. The drive and the hook were his favourite shots and I can remember him being one the most elegant players to watch around the mid-1970s.
Majid was effective too and he made some important contributions, both with the bat and as the skipper of the team.
A cousin of Imran Khan, Majid played in 63 test matches and 23 One Day Internationals between 1964 and 1983. He scored 4717 runs across the two formats with nine centuries and a top score of 167.
It’s brought back some very special memories going through this list. I’ve been a great admirer of Pakistan cricket since I first saw them in England in the mid-1970s. They’ve been controversial at times and some touring teams have struggled, but Pakistan have always been entertaining.
The players on this list are up there among the very best. I’m not sure that I’ve omitted any, but do feel free to leave some comments about players who you think should be here.
This is one list where I feel there will be some more additions in the near future. Pakistan have a very talented team that includes some exceptional fast bowlers and some impressive young spinners.
The batting is an area that could be improved with Babar Azam carrying too much responsibility at the moment. In the years that follow, it will be fascinating to see who else I need to include here.