February 12, 2013

'I am angry every time I bowl'

Shapoor Zadran talks about cranking himself up, his favourite bowler, and playing in the BPL
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Shapoor Zadran was a virtual unknown in Bangladesh when he first began playing for Khulna Royal Bengals in the BPL. Since then, his intimidating speed, bounce and stare have won over fans, and brought comparisons with another speed merchant. Zadran has also acquainted himself with a new country, team-mates and playing culture.

How did the BPL get in touch with you?
It happened all of a sudden. I was in a training camp in Pakistan when the Khulna owner, Salman Karim, called me. He asked me to join his team, and I asked him: "How does that happen? I don't even know you."

He mailed me the details, and I came over to Bangladesh. I never thought I would play in the BPL. But here I am. It is a matter of pride for Afghanistan.

You have been taking the wickets of some really good batsmen here, bouncing and beating them often.
I have played in two T20 World Cups, in 2010 and 2012, and these tournaments have given me a lot of experience. The first time I felt pressure was in the 2010 tournament. So by now the pressure is out of my system and whoever I face, it could be Dhoni or Sehwag, I wouldn't feel pressure. I have Allah with me, so I bowl with that in mind.

Do you say anything to batsmen after you bowl a bouncer?
I am angry every time I bowl. A bowler has to be angry, so that his reaction can carry over to the batsmen, who get unsettled and end up making a mistake.

Bowlers work the hardest, more than the batsmen. We have to do extra training, swimming, and we need a lot of stamina.

How did you come to cricket?
I used to play at the Arbab Niaz Stadium and Gymkhana in Peshawar. I started playing with the hard ball in 2001. I thought I would play for Pakistan one day, but the situation with the officials wasn't good. Then Iqbal Sikander, who used to bowl legbreaks for Pakistan, started coaching Afghanistan, so I went there.

I went a little mad when I saw 500 players at a trial. I said to myself, "Shapoor, it is impossible that you will break through from these 500 players!" I prayed to Allah that I must play for the team. I gave my trial, and I was among the top 50, then the top 25. I was very happy, so I called my family to give them the good news. They were so surprised. I hadn't told them why I was going to Afghanistan - I said I had some work there and went to the trial secretly.

Do they support your cricket career?
Not at first, but now my mother, father and brother, they all do. They watch me play on TV, and they're watching me now, playing in the BPL. They all sit together and watch me on TV, and they are very happy that I represent Afghanistan. People there are very happy that four Afghanis are playing here.

How did you train when you first started playing cricket?
I didn't have a coach when I started playing. In Peshawar, I started to play under Rahmat bhai, who played first-class cricket in Pakistan. He gave me some idea about bowling. Slowly I caught on. In 2008, Kabir [Khan] came along and my bowling started to improve immediately.

Is Wasim Akram a hero?
Wasim Akram is a legend. I salute him.

My favourite bowler is Shoaib Akhtar. I really respect him a lot. I am cross with him for retiring. I followed him very closely. I have never talked to him, although I have met him twice. I feel nervous when I see him, you know. Inshallah, I will speak to him and take tips from him about speed, find out where his speed came from. Speed comes naturally to me but there are exercises that one must do to improve it. So I will ask him what he did to increase his speed over the years.

Is playing the 2015 World Cup also a target?
We have been having a training camp in Lahore for the past two months, playing T20s and one-day matches against a team there. We have been building towards the 2015 World Cup, which we will hopefully qualify for. Playing in Australia would be great for me, because the wickets offer a lot to fast bowlers.

How has it been in Bangladesh - your first time in the country?
I like it here. I will definitely play here again, you can take my word for it. In Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna, there have been so many people at the ground. I felt nervous playing in front of so many people. The crowd has been really amazing for me. I've been wondering: if there are so many people for a BPL match, what happens when the national team plays?

Have you made any friends in the Khulna team?
I have grown fond of Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza, and our manager, Rony. They are all very nice people - the foreigners and the Bangladeshi players. I talk to everyone, spend time with them.

Mohammad Nabi has said he has adjusted to the food here. What about you?
The food here is fine but a little too spicy for me. We don't eat spicy generally. The fish and chicken are great. The seekh kabab is great.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 12, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    great to see Afghan player playing in BBL. there is a lot of cricket Talent in Afghanistan but it needs to work to find the talent. Afghanistan national team aim is to qualify for the 2015 cricket world cup. shahpoor improved since last year. if he plays like these , I am sure ,he will be the best fast bowler.

  • S-Matrix on February 12, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    Ten years ago, the only new prospect in the non-Test world was Kenya, which rapidly disappeared (helped by the ban of Odumbe). For the next four years, there was no new emerging team, and instead, Zimbabwe seemed to be receding. Ireland announced herself six years ago, and for the last two years, we have had Ireland, Netherlands and Afghanistan knocking on the door. With Bangladesh showing commendable signs of narrowing the gap with the upper echelon, these teams (and maybe Zimbabwe for some time) can form an effective second tier for cricket; much like the mid-ranking teams of the European football leagues, which may not have realistic chances of winning the title but may cause enough upsets to keep the competition interesting for the top teams. So , the next World Cup in 2015 could be more competitive in that regard.

  • Anidollar on February 15, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    Shapoor is great! I'm a Bangladeshi. I love Afghanistan Cricket team very much. I think all Bangladeshi loves Shapoor, Nabi, Hamid like me as they served in BPL very well, even more than some world class players. All Afghans in BPL showed their class.

  • on February 14, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    Playing in BPL will give Shapour and other Afghan players like Hamid, Nabi and Sami a massive experience. I hope they buy Dawlat Zadran, Gulbodin Naib and Hamza Hotak too. these games will do nothing but improve us to challenge for higher ranking. Thanks to Bangladesh Cricket Board for giving us chance.

  • SkylaDark on February 14, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Personally, I really like the Afghani team and support them. Thanks, Shapoor, for coming to BD and playing for us. You really freak out batsmen with your energy, and encourage teammates. Best of luck for the future.

  • on February 13, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    very nice we proud to you

  • on February 13, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    thanks zadran for supporting us

  • on February 13, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    All the best Shapoor. Wishes from Dhaka.

  • on February 13, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Nicely put @777aditya. Cheers for the positive comment.

  • Azooz-Afgfan on February 13, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Shahpoor is a roaring Hindukush Loin. Shahpoor should work more on seaming the ball more and he is a world class bowler no doubt. @Mattew Richards you are right they lack 1s and 2s and playing the ball on the ground.

  • on February 12, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    great to see Afghan player playing in BBL. there is a lot of cricket Talent in Afghanistan but it needs to work to find the talent. Afghanistan national team aim is to qualify for the 2015 cricket world cup. shahpoor improved since last year. if he plays like these , I am sure ,he will be the best fast bowler.

  • S-Matrix on February 12, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    Ten years ago, the only new prospect in the non-Test world was Kenya, which rapidly disappeared (helped by the ban of Odumbe). For the next four years, there was no new emerging team, and instead, Zimbabwe seemed to be receding. Ireland announced herself six years ago, and for the last two years, we have had Ireland, Netherlands and Afghanistan knocking on the door. With Bangladesh showing commendable signs of narrowing the gap with the upper echelon, these teams (and maybe Zimbabwe for some time) can form an effective second tier for cricket; much like the mid-ranking teams of the European football leagues, which may not have realistic chances of winning the title but may cause enough upsets to keep the competition interesting for the top teams. So , the next World Cup in 2015 could be more competitive in that regard.

  • Anidollar on February 15, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    Shapoor is great! I'm a Bangladeshi. I love Afghanistan Cricket team very much. I think all Bangladeshi loves Shapoor, Nabi, Hamid like me as they served in BPL very well, even more than some world class players. All Afghans in BPL showed their class.

  • on February 14, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    Playing in BPL will give Shapour and other Afghan players like Hamid, Nabi and Sami a massive experience. I hope they buy Dawlat Zadran, Gulbodin Naib and Hamza Hotak too. these games will do nothing but improve us to challenge for higher ranking. Thanks to Bangladesh Cricket Board for giving us chance.

  • SkylaDark on February 14, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Personally, I really like the Afghani team and support them. Thanks, Shapoor, for coming to BD and playing for us. You really freak out batsmen with your energy, and encourage teammates. Best of luck for the future.

  • on February 13, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    very nice we proud to you

  • on February 13, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    thanks zadran for supporting us

  • on February 13, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    All the best Shapoor. Wishes from Dhaka.

  • on February 13, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Nicely put @777aditya. Cheers for the positive comment.

  • Azooz-Afgfan on February 13, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Shahpoor is a roaring Hindukush Loin. Shahpoor should work more on seaming the ball more and he is a world class bowler no doubt. @Mattew Richards you are right they lack 1s and 2s and playing the ball on the ground.

  • Azooz-Afgfan on February 13, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    Shahpoor is a roaring Hindukush Lion. Shahpoor should on seaming the ball more and he is a world class bowler no doubt.

    @Mattew Richards you are right they lack 1s and 2s and playing the ball on the ground.

  • xylo on February 12, 2013, 23:57 GMT

    He must be deeply in love with cricket to move from Pakistan to Afghanistan!

  • on February 12, 2013, 21:15 GMT

    Afghanistan has the talent to succeed in international cricket but what they require is a proper domestic structure at home, guidance and consistently playing against test playing nations. Watching them play is a breath of fresh for Cricket fans, who are so use to seeing handful of nations taking part in Cricket. Cricket should be promoted around the globe, so people can see what a wonderful sport Cricket really is. All the best to Zadran.

  • on February 12, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    Very fine bowler..but Afghanistan is full of talented young cricketers. They have grown up in Peshawar and looks up to the greats like Shahid afridi, Wasim and Waqa.Pakistan have been really helpful to all Afghan cricketers.Thanks alot for that Pakistan. I still remember playing in the streets of Peshawar, it was great fun. Miss those days

  • Desihungama on February 12, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    Thanks Shapoor. You look like Shoaib Akhtar too with that fire in your eyes. Moral of the story is once again it is Pakistan helping out emerging or any other teams needing help, be it providing with coaching, logistics, sharing tips from former players, providing facilities and most of all encouraging them to realize their dreams. I salute what Pakistan has done to promote cricket.

  • 777aditya on February 12, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    Reminds me of Amrish Puri's famous dialogue addressed to Sunny Deol in Ghatak - "Krodh ko palna seekh, Kashi!" Anger if channelized can be the source of great motivation and immense energy! Way to go Zadran! We need another good team like Afghanistan in Asia to enthuse a better competitive spirit (and a chance to retain the World Cup in Asia). Whatever little one has seen of Afghanistan (games against Aus, Pak, and India in WC), it looks to be a team with sprightly fielders, decent bowlers, and attacking batsman - all they need is a guiding hand like Ranatunga or Cronje (pre match fixing) in the formative years and they will be a force to reckon with. They can only get better with experience.

  • on February 12, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    The afghan bowling is really coming on they now have 3 or 4 bowlers with real potential, main questions are still over their batting though they really struggle when tested against international quality attacks.

  • on February 12, 2013, 15:30 GMT

    shapoor zadran a bowler who's popular with nickname of toghandy(rocket) ,he showed in bpl that he is a class bowler , hope AFG will qualify to 2015 World cup

  • on February 12, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    you have all right to be angry when you bowl bro because you really bowl at 125 kmph. when you start touching 150 then talk about anger okay.

  • Akhter786 on February 12, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    Exciting and good to see players from Afganistan doing good in cricket

    And thanx to pakistan who despite left without international cricket on its soil is catering for two countries,,,, Isn't it so generous of them how much world cricket owe to them, just think about it!!!

  • on February 12, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    Waiting to see you all Afghan Loins in WC 2015. I suggest the senior Team should give chance to Afghanistan, Ireland and Scotland to play again them so they can learn there experience.

    Once Again many thanks to BPL Bangladesh to give chances to Afghan Players.

  • AK47_pk on February 12, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    Another fine product of pakistan. He needs some good coaching. I will recomend shabi bahi who is a fine local coach in pak nd has helped many many bowlers.

  • on February 12, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    Afghanistan has got a lot of talented players .Such leagues play major role in revealing their talent to the world .Hopefully , more Afghan players will be selected in the next edition of BPL .Apart from BPL ,Afghans should also be given an opportunity to play in BBL ,IPL ,County etc .

  • SillyMidPavilion on February 12, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Holland. Afghanistan could very well be the next in the line of World Cup bolters. And this guy, Shapoor Zadran, he certainly appears to have the raw talent to tear batting lineups to shreds, kinda like Mitchell Starc did to the Windies over the past month.

  • M_Rakibul_Islam on February 12, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Afghans r producing some good cricketers unlike most other associates except Ire or Ned. Zadran is little bit expensive for T20 but his bowling action & speed is good enough to play at international level. He should work with his line & length to become more economic bowler. He may follow the path of greats like Mcgrath, Akram, Steyn or at least current Asian experienced bowlers like Zahir Khan, Umar Gul, Mashrafi etc. to improve line-length.

  • Haleos on February 12, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    Angry?? Aggression is fine but anger?

  • AlbertEinstein on February 12, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    ........Training camp in Lahore........So Punjab lives up to its reputation. When its assembly line is not producing quickies for Pakistan, it does it for Afghanistan.

  • Dost_Cricket on February 12, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    On behalf Afghan People, I would like to thank you all for the nice comments and support. Many thanks to BPL for giving afghan cricketers a chance to prove themselves and I m sure this will do a great help to afghan players to improve. We definitely lack the infrastructure here but I can assure that Afghan cricketers with their natural talent will always put up a good show to the rest of world. I love cricket and I think all the cricket should unite and start helping each to make cricket global as it's underway.

  • on February 12, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    Zadran Hamid AFG has good fast bowlers.With experience can tackle the PAK greats i think. Good to see BAN producing some good batsman but they need to work on producing some fast bowlers

  • on February 12, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    He's been a welcome addition to BPL. Would love to see him back next year Inshallah and also Dhaka Premier League ( 50 over club league). We have some serious lack of good fast bowlers in our country and though he is not a world beater, our boys would be benefited from playing someone of his pace and height. Would be even better if we can get him in the NCL next season under the proposed foreign player quota.

  • on February 12, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Yes Afghanistan can be a force to reckon with in the World Cup 2015 to be held in Aus/Nzl and Shapoor Zardon can be initimidating bowler. And please train more on speed and u can see how Steyn creates scare on the Batsman and take their wickets. Hope Afghanistan can cause some upsets in WC 2015 as has been the case by Kenya, Zimbabwe in the previous WC matches. So, pls prepare vigorously and have a go at the top. All the best.

  • Bilal_Choudry on February 12, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    the talent in afghanistan is exciting

  • FazleAbed on February 12, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    I saw you first against England and you were like Wasim in 1992. I know you need to improve a lot to be a great fast bowler, but you are a good bowler. Hope you will be recruit again in any BPL team.

  • jashan83 on February 12, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    Afghanistan surely have got great talents. I am sure this team will really rise up the ranks and soon a Afg-Pak rivalry is on the cards. Zadran surely is a great talent. He along with Hamid Hassan can rip apart any batting lineup on their given day

  • jashan83 on February 12, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    Afghanistan surely have got great talents. I am sure this team will really rise up the ranks and soon a Afg-Pak rivalry is on the cards. Zadran surely is a great talent. He along with Hamid Hassan can rip apart any batting lineup on their given day

  • FazleAbed on February 12, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    I saw you first against England and you were like Wasim in 1992. I know you need to improve a lot to be a great fast bowler, but you are a good bowler. Hope you will be recruit again in any BPL team.

  • Bilal_Choudry on February 12, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    the talent in afghanistan is exciting

  • on February 12, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Yes Afghanistan can be a force to reckon with in the World Cup 2015 to be held in Aus/Nzl and Shapoor Zardon can be initimidating bowler. And please train more on speed and u can see how Steyn creates scare on the Batsman and take their wickets. Hope Afghanistan can cause some upsets in WC 2015 as has been the case by Kenya, Zimbabwe in the previous WC matches. So, pls prepare vigorously and have a go at the top. All the best.

  • on February 12, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    He's been a welcome addition to BPL. Would love to see him back next year Inshallah and also Dhaka Premier League ( 50 over club league). We have some serious lack of good fast bowlers in our country and though he is not a world beater, our boys would be benefited from playing someone of his pace and height. Would be even better if we can get him in the NCL next season under the proposed foreign player quota.

  • on February 12, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    Zadran Hamid AFG has good fast bowlers.With experience can tackle the PAK greats i think. Good to see BAN producing some good batsman but they need to work on producing some fast bowlers

  • Dost_Cricket on February 12, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    On behalf Afghan People, I would like to thank you all for the nice comments and support. Many thanks to BPL for giving afghan cricketers a chance to prove themselves and I m sure this will do a great help to afghan players to improve. We definitely lack the infrastructure here but I can assure that Afghan cricketers with their natural talent will always put up a good show to the rest of world. I love cricket and I think all the cricket should unite and start helping each to make cricket global as it's underway.

  • AlbertEinstein on February 12, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    ........Training camp in Lahore........So Punjab lives up to its reputation. When its assembly line is not producing quickies for Pakistan, it does it for Afghanistan.

  • Haleos on February 12, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    Angry?? Aggression is fine but anger?

  • M_Rakibul_Islam on February 12, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Afghans r producing some good cricketers unlike most other associates except Ire or Ned. Zadran is little bit expensive for T20 but his bowling action & speed is good enough to play at international level. He should work with his line & length to become more economic bowler. He may follow the path of greats like Mcgrath, Akram, Steyn or at least current Asian experienced bowlers like Zahir Khan, Umar Gul, Mashrafi etc. to improve line-length.