February 16, 2009

Pakistan cricket

A tall order for batsmen?

Jamie Alter

Mohammad Zahid and Aamer Nazir. When they appeared on the scene for Pakistan in the 1990s, it sent everyone scurrying to find out their antecedents. Not much was discovered about either of them, except that they impressed Wasim Akram despite not much first-class experience.

Now, like a bolt from the the blue, comes the spotting of a 7'2" fast bowler from Multan who has former Pakistan fast bowler Aaqib Javed excited. At 6'8", Joel Garner and Bruce Reid were the tallest fast bowlers to play international cricket, but Mohammad Irfan is reportedly something else.

"I spent the whole day thinking to myself that we might have something really special here," Aaqib told PakPassion.com. "At the moment he has no clue about what he's trying to do, but we can teach him that stuff at the [Pakistan] academy."

Irfan, 21, has apparently never even played a proper game of cricket. Aaqib wants Irfan to "pack his bags and come straight back" because he is keen to get cracking on improving Irfan's mental and physical fitness. It may take some serious work, too. For someone that tall, even landing a ball on a length could turn out to be a bouncer to the man down the other end of the pitch.

Zahid and Nazir faded away but this one, he could be something big. If Irfan plays international cricket, the headline writers could have a field day - "His Highness" ... "Mount Irfan" ... Much fun.

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Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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