||23 March 1948
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.