Ris­ing tal­ent Naseem has hall­marks of be­ing Pak­istan’s new pace king

Teenager who can de­liver both in­swing and outswing is al­ready be­ing com­pared to the coun­try’s bowl­ing su­per­stars

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Cricket - By Nick Hoult

Naseem Shah was a three­month-old babe in arms when James An­der­son made his Test de­but in 2003. This morn­ing, the mas­ter and the ap­pren­tice will both be at Emi­rates Old Traf­ford, with the first Test against Eng­land the lat­est step on the road for Naseem, the Pak­istan teenage sen­sa­tion tipped to em­u­late An­der­son and be­come his coun­try’s high­est Test wicket-taker.

No­body made such bold pre­dic­tions about An­der­son when he played his first Test at Lord’s 17 years ago. Then, Sir Ian Botham’s 383 Test wick­ets looked in­sur­mount­able; now An­der­son and Stu­art Broad have left the fig­ure in the dis­tant past.

For Naseem, his tar­get ap­pears just as far away as it did for An­der­son all those years ago. He needs an­other 402 wick­ets to go past Wasim Akram, but at 17, with the world at his feet and blessed with a pure ac­tion that Michael Vaughan com­pares to Fred True­man’s, Naseem can ful­fil pre­dic­tions.

His pace is com­pa­ra­ble with Jofra Archer’s, but he has more skills with the abil­ity to bowl in­swing and outswing. He spent lock­down in Pak­istan prac­tis­ing with the Dukes ball to pre­pare for Eng­land and is now work­ing in Eng­land un­der the eye of Waqar You­nis. Af­ter just four Tests he has 13 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 26, one five-wicket haul and a hat-trick. All this be­fore reach­ing the le­gal driv­ing age in Pak­istan.

He grew up with the tape ball, and did not bowl with a proper cricket ball un­til he at­tended tri­als in the Lower Dir dis­trict in Pak­istan’s re­mote north-west­ern prov­ince, im­press­ing so much that an un­cle took him to La­hore at 13 to en­rol at the Ab­dul Qadir cricket academy.

Qadir, the great Pak­istan leg-spin­ner, passed away sud­denly last year but his son, Su­la­man, coached Naseem and re­mem­bers a nat­u­rally skil­ful bowler with an abil­ity to learn quickly. To move to a city an eight-hour drive away from your fam­ily – who have lit­tle in­ter­est in cricket – and chase a dream takes some courage for a 13-year-old. “The day I saw him I was sure he could be a very good bowler,” Su­la­man told The Daily Tele­graph. “He is men­tally tough be­cause when he came to La­hore he was young and he was strug­gling with things and he grew up quickly and he sur­vived in dif­fi­cult times.”

Naseem faced the pres­sure of hav­ing to prove him­self to a fam­ily scep­ti­cal that cricket could be a full-time ca­reer. It did not take long. He was se­lected for La­hore Un­der-16s aged 13 and Pak­istan Un­der-16s aged 14. “Then [his] par­ents re­alised he has a tal­ent,” Su­la­man says. Af­ter na­tional age-group recog­ni­tion, he was paid to play for re­gional teams, a sign oth­ers were in­vest­ing in his tal­ent. “And then the bur­den goes off and af­ter that he set­tled and now he’s do­ing well,” Su­la­man adds.

He was fea­tured on a Pak­istan tele­vi­sion tal­ent show im­press­ing judge Andy Roberts, but by then was al­ready carv­ing out a rep­u­ta­tion. He was picked to go on tour to Aus­tralia hav­ing played only six first-class games.

Naseem shook up Aus­tralia on his Test de­but last year, hit­ting Us­man Khawaja and dis­miss­ing Mar­cus Har­ris with a bouncer. He fol­lowed it up by be­com­ing the youngest bowler to take five wick­ets in a Test in­nings. He then be­came the youngest to take a Test hat-trick in

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.