|Hanif Mohammed at the London Oncology Clinic, on Monday.
Picture courtesy: Shahzeb Mohammed
Calcutta: The siege (and massacre) at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall forced British Prime Minister David Cameron to severely curtail his appointment with a clutch of cricket captains, at 10 Downing Street, on Monday evening.
“Mr Cameron could spend only about 10 minutes with us, as he was tracking developments in Nairobi... He took leave and requested a predecessor, John Major, to play host in his absence,” Mushtaq Mohammed, a former Pakistan captain, told The Telegraph from London.
Cameron is rather passionate about sport, while Major has had close ties with the Surrey County Cricket Club. In fact, he’s served as its president.
Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly were among the former captains, representing India, who went to 10 Downing Street on the trip organised by The Lord’s Taverners.
The Lord’s Taverners, by the way, is organising The Macquarie Legendary Test Captains’ Dinner to raise funds for the disabled and disadvantaged children.
Where charities go, The Lord’s Taverners enjoys a high profile.
Speaking on Tuesday, before the Dinner at The Hilton on Park Lane, Mushtaq said: “Despite the Nairobi-related pressure, Mr Cameron welcomed us warmly... As for Major, he knows his cricket... We left around 7.30 pm, after nearly one-and-a-half hours.”
Sir Garry Sobers, Ian Chappell and Sir Viv Richards are also in London for the Dinner and, on Sunday evening, they’d used Mushtaq’s cellphone to wish his elder brother, Hanif, a “speedy recovery.”
Arguably the greatest all-round cricketer, Sir Garry was on the park when Hanif scored that epic 337 in Bridgetown 55 years ago.
A former captain and Asia’s first triple centurion in Test cricket, Hanif is undergoing chemotherapy (at the London Oncology Clinic) after a cancer-related surgery on July 9.
Hanif, 78, is into his second cycle of chemotherapy. Once it gets over, on September 30, he’ll return to Pakistan and the remaining four cycles will be gone through in Karachi.
October 4 is the most likely date of travel.
“By the grace of Almighty, Dad has been tolerating the chemotherapy well... Yesterday, he was administered two drugs over five hours... We’re praying that he stays strong,” younger son Shahzeb, who is London-based, informed on Tuesday.
As reported in these columns, Hanif is actually battling it out on two fronts: One is his own illness, the other concerns six-year-old grandson Ayaan.
Ayaan, who is Shoaib Mohammed’s younger son, has an inoperable brain tumour. He’s currently hospitalised in Karachi and may not live for long.
Hanif is especially close to Ayaan.