Attacking middle-order batsman, occasional bowler, excellent cover point fielder, competent wicketkeeper, Commercial Manager, Committee member, Vice-President, Club President and all-round cult hero, ‘Basher’ Hassan has fulfilled many roles for his adopted county since his arrival in England in 1966.
Sheikh Basharat Hassan was born on 24 March 1944 in Nairobi, Kenya. Having shown his potential in club cricket he made his First-Class debut for an East African Invitation XI against the touring MCC in November 1963. Three years later he moved to England and joined Notts, although – as Basher openly admits – he mistook the Trent Bridge Inn for the entrance to the cricket ground on his first day with his new employers!
Basher made his First-Class debut for Notts at Oxford University in May 1966 when he played as a wicketkeeper but spent the rest of that season in the 2nd XI while serving his residential qualification. The following season he played in 17 First-Class matches, hitting 579 runs and averaging 27.57, with a highest score of 107* against Glamorgan, struck in 98 minutes.
When Notts signed Gary Sobers as the overseas player for the 1968 season Basher was restricted to one First-Class match against the touring Australians. However he appeared regularly for the county’s 2nd XI and for the International Cavaliers – and it was in the Cavaliers’ televised matches that Basher became well-known for his unorthodox crouching stance at the wicket.
In 1969 Basher soon established himself as a key member of the county’s first team squad and in 1970 he reached 1,000 runs in a season for the first time while averaging 32.44 and receiving his county cap. In 1972 he headed the Notts batting averages and in 1977 struck his highest First-Class score of 182*, against Gloucestershire at Trent Bridge. In the previous match against Kent he had been injured in the first innings, but with Notts being asked to follow on Basher scored a remarkable four-hour 106 with the aid of a runner – although his heroics were not enough to prevent an eight-wicket defeat.
During a 20-year First-Class career in England Basher totalled 14,355 runs and scored more than 1,000 in five seasons; he also played a vital role in the 1981 Championship-winning side when he finished third in Notts’ batting averages.
As a useful wicketkeeper, Basher’s versatility also made him a key player in limited-overs cricket. He was the first Notts batsman to reach 5,000 runs in the Sunday League and he ended his career with 6,806 List-A runs and a highest score of 120* against Warwickshire in 1981. That innings was just one of four hundreds against the same county within six years, three being Basher’s career-best scores at the time.
Basher’s reputation as a fine fielder was well-deserved and his 306 catches in First-Class matches were the highest number by a Notts fielder since 1945. The 1971 edition of Wisden praised "his brilliance in the covers [which] stamped him as one of the outstanding men in this position in the country", adding that his team-mates were "fired by the example of the enthusiastic Hassan".
Basher retired from playing at the end of the 1985 season, during which he made an appearance as twelfth man for England in an Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. His attentions then turned to umpiring and between 1987 and 1991 he stood in 65 First-Class and 58 List-A matches.
Basher was also well-known across the Midlands as an enthusiastic and powerful hockey player, and he remains a popular and well-known figure across the world of cricket. He has supported the charity Cerebral Palsy Sport for over seventeen years, during which time he has raised more than £10,000, become one of their Patrons and been the recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.
Basher was also Honorary President of the Nottinghamshire Premier League and, having served on the Nottinghamshire CCC General Committee from 2005 to 2017, he was elected as the Club’s President in February 2020, cementing a 50-year association with the Club.