Imran Khan and the Sydney University maiden

Imran Khan and his wife Jemima. Photo / Getty Images.
Imran Khan and his wife Jemima. Photo / Getty Images.

Shane Warne is considered by many as cricket's greatest playboy, but former Test spinner Kerry O'Keeffe has lifted the lid of his experiences with another, Pakistani legend Imran Khan - and the tale leaves "Warney" in the shade.

O'Keeffe played alongside Khan during the 1984-1985 season, when the Pakistan all-rounder turned out for New South Wales and also Sydney grade club, Sydney University.

It was at University where O'Keeffe got up close to Khan and the former Australian leg spinner has shared a hilarious story as part of his YouTube series.

Khan would make just seven appearances for the club side during his time in Australia but one match against North Sydney will go down in folklore.

The match was held at University Oval No. 1 in December of 1984, as the Students took on North Sydney.

Khan was considered a notorious playboy during his legendary career and O'Keeffe recalls how the Pakistani great had caught the attention of one glamorous blonde watching on at University Oval.

"She only had eyes for one player and it wasn't happily married Uni captain Mick O'Sullivan with five daughters - it was the Pakistan all-rounder," O'Keeffe explains.

"Who was never short of female company it has to be said. I'm not saying they were groupies, but Imran Khan was attractive to women without question."

Khan was staying at the up market apartment complex The Connaught, overlooking Sydney's Hyde Park and would zoom around Sydney in a red sports car provided by a sponsor.

Sydney University were defending just 180 on a flat deck and North Sydney was making easy work of the run chase as the lunch break was called.

While Sydney University players were "nibbling nervously on some Sao's", Khan had other things on his mind.

"He was waltzing out of the carpark with the blonde into the red sports car and back to The Connaught," O'Keeffe said.

"Now, A, you could lock in (they were heading back) for Tofu. B, to watch re-runs of Gunsmoke or, C, horizontal folk dancing - I'm not saying which one it was.

"All I'm saying after the forty minutes Sydney University strode out to try and defend their meagre total at 180 - only with 10 men."

North Sydney was well poised for victory. At 3/130, chasing 180, things looked bleak, and University were now without their strike man.

Imran Khan had not returned. Captain O'Sullivan was livid. North Sydney's score was mounting, in lots of 10 towards the small target. The visitors knew that without the star bowler on the ground, they were a huge chance of victory.

"20 minutes after the break, Imran Khan with the blonde and the red sports car returned, and casually strolls onto the field at fine-leg," recalled O'Keeffe.

Suddenly a wicket fell. North Sydney now only had four wickets in hand, a further 30 runs needed.

Imran Khan would walk up to his captain Mick O'Sullivan and simply said "I will bowl now," says O'Keeffe - Khan offering no explanation as to why he was late.

"He bowled the most withering spell of reverse swing ever seen at Sydney University Oval," O'Keeffe said. The Pakistani great firing University to victory.

While O'Keefe's recollection flatters Khan (O'Keeffe claims he took 5/3), Sydney University's 1984-1985 season reports sheds insight into the fateful day - also verifying Khan's extra-curricular activity.

The long struggle on the second day saw us restricting the run rate but finding it difficult to obtain wickets. That is until at 2.10pm after a slightly longer than scheduled lunch (for who knows what) Imran's wonderful words, "Captain, I will bowl now" were uttered. After a big Imran off cutter hit Graham Spring's stumps, Greedy Grimble chipped in with Trevor Chappell's wicket. Two more Imran off cutters for LBWs saw the game turn our way. Good pressure was maintained and we scraped home by 9 runs. Imran's 4-25 from 23 overs was a high point. I am sure all players derived enormous satisfaction from watching him.

"Imran was last seen driving out of the car park in the red sports car with the blonde, driving back to The Connaught," O'Keeffe said.

"The clear message is, if you're playing club cricket and the tedium of lunch gets too much for you, there are options".

O'Keeffe's tale also verifies what cricket players of Khan's era always said - that once Imran got those balls swinging, he was impossible to play.

- news.com.au

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