BRISTOL: Pakistani fast-bowler Naseem Shah says he’s ready to represent the country in all three formats of the games at the international level.
The young pace sensation who grabbed headlines in 2020, when he became the youngest bowler in Test cricket’s history to take a hat-trick against Bangladesh, was speaking exclusively to Geo News at Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol, the home of Gloucestershire county cricket club.
Since making his international debut against Australia in 2019, he has featured in 11 Test matches for Pakistan but is yet to play in the ODI and T20I formats of the game. He is also the second youngest bowler and the youngest fast bowler ever to take a five-wicket haul in an innings — a feat he achieved in his second Test match against Sri Lanka.
He said that satisfying anyone to select him in the playing squad for ODI and T20I is not in his hand but only in Allah’s.
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“I’m working hard and doing what I can. Whenever I have the ball in my hand the only thing I strive for is to perform well no matter what the format is,” he adds.
Naseem, who hails from Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, initially started playing cricket with a tape ball at home with his cousins.
He told Geo News that he had no idea at that time what hard ball cricket was and didn’t even think of following any international fast bowler. His passion for bowling with a hard ball developed only after he joined the cricket academy and later watched clips of great fast bowlers on YouTube.
“In those days at cricket academy, I used to watch New Zealand’s great fast bowler Shane Bond a lot on the television. I was impressed with his run-up and bowling styles. But gradually I started watching the videos of all the great Pakistani bowlers on YouTube. Those clips I watched online encouraged me and taught me a lot about fast bowling,” he said.
On the competition with his peers, Naseem said he’s never even thought about it and has no competition with them.
“All I have ever tried is to perform and do my level best whenever and wherever I get a chance, whether it is a club game or a county match or at national or international level. The only thing I always try to do is to work hard to give my 100% to the team as this is the only thing which is in my control.”
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In January, Naseem was signed by Gloucestershire as their oversees player but unfortunately for him, it hasn’t been a smooth ride. After arriving in England he sustained an injury in his first county match for against Northamptonshire which forced him out of action for a few weeks.
Speaking on his fitness, Naseem said that it wasn’t a serious issue but only some sort of stiffness and as precautionary measures, he was advised by the club’s management to take some rest and concentrate more on training.
“I just followed the advice I was given and with Allah’s blessing my fitness improved with every passing day that’s why I was back in action for the Blast”.
Naseem said that he has signed for Gloucestershire as he was looking for an opportunity to perform in county cricket as standards are very high.
“I heard a lot about the quality and structure of county cricket from senior players who played here before me. After coming here I’ve experienced the high standards and professional setup myself, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing cricket here.”
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Naseem Shah added that playing county cricket not only provided him with an opportunity to play the game but also learn a lot of new things that has helped him bring more discipline in life and boost his professionalism.
“When I came here I was given accommodation with that my responsibilities also increased. Since I’m living alone, I had to deal with household chores too. I have to learn how to keep my house tidy and clean, make my breakfast and dinner, get my kit ready and go to the ground myself.”
“And in cricket, as I had the opportunity to stay in England for a longer period so I’ve gained more knowledge about the pitches and playing conditions.”
When Naseem made his international debut Azhar Ali was the captain but now it’s Babar Azam who is leading the Pakistan team in all three formats. In Pakistan Super League (PSL) he plays for Quetta Gladiators which is led by Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Responding to a question about under whose captaincy he’s enjoyed playing most he said that as a strike bowler his main responsibility is to fulfil the role he is given and it doesn’t matter who’s leading the team.