Pace attack November 25, 2006

Is there a twist to Sami's tale?

Mohammad Sami is a cat who has had his nine lives © AFP

Mohammad Sami, who most people want to bowl like the wind, has lived through something of a twister in the past few months. He began the England tour as Pakistan's premier (fully fit) fast bowler and ended it as if he had ended his international career. He watched helplessly as he was first overlooked for the Champions Trophy--even once Shoaib and Asif returned in shame--and then was bypassed for the West Indies series. With nowhere to go, Imran Khan's most advocated bowler, hit some form in domestic cricket. In England, Sami had lost his fire and his confidence. But the logic of his late introduction into the squad is that he is certain to play, otherwise why bother?

Sami is a cat who has had his nine lives. This is an unexpected opportunity for the lost Pakistani paceman. His selection, though, sends several signals. First, Sami has been rewarded for a blip of form in domestic cricket. Second, the Pakistan coach and captain have little faith in Samiullah Niazi, else why call up Sami? Third, there is no real talent waiting to burst through and lead the Pakistan bowling attack, else why not experiment now? And finally--and this is a possibility I find most fascinating--perhaps the selectors don't need to blood anybody new because Asif and/or Shoaib will be returning sooner than expected.

Sami, though, needs to send some signals of his own. The smoke that rises from Karachi must say: "I am Mohammad Sami, Pakistan's lost paceman. I have returned with fire in my belly, passion in my heart. My mind is focused, my thinking clear. I will release the shackles that have bound me. I am Mohammad Sami unbound, Pakistan's rediscovered champion. I have returned as Sami the Spearhead not Sami the Sloth. West Indies must beware and Lara will tremble." It might be a long shot but hope is eternal. Is there a final twist to Sami's tale?

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here