Pakistan domestic cricket October 22, 2009

Tall, fast and highly rated

Cricinfo staff

Back in February, like a bolt from the blue, a fast bowler from Multan allegedly standing 7'2" tall caught the eye of former Pakistan fast bowler Aaqib Javed. At 6'8", Joel Garner and Bruce Reid were the tallest fast bowlers to play international cricket, but this was something else, Aaqib realised. It was at that moment that a young player's fortunes took a dramatic change, even if there was and remains, subsequently, considerable confusion over his real height: the PCB has variously measured him at 6'8", 6'10" and 7'1".

Until then Mohammad Irfan's cricketing ambitions were being held back by his surroundings and lack of contacts. He had been working in a plastic pipe factory earning about Rs 8,000 ($96) a month while playing club cricket in the eastern Pakistan town of Gaggu Mandi. Coming from a humble small-town background, the lack of opportunities had left Irfan disillusioned and without first-class representation. In August 2008 he decided to stop playing cricket and seek full-time employment to support his family.

With plenty of interest generated from a fan forum on the cricket website - who heard of Irfan's name while interviewing Multan's assistant coach Nadeem Iqbal - the tall fast bowler was introduced to Aaqib at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore by a reporter for the site.

Once Aaqib was enthused by what he saw - "I spent the whole day thinking to myself that we might have something really special here," - things happened swiftly. Irfan was brought to the NCA almost immediately by Aaqib, who was keen to develop him mentally more than physically, and then joined a local club at which the internationals Abdul Razzaq and Imran Nazir played. He put in long hours at the NCA as well as for his club; one highlight was his 4 for 45 against Pakistan A prior to their departure for Sri Lanka this summer.

A key moment in Irfan's development came after Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) opener Azhar Ali recommended that the team keep an eye on him. The former Pakistan batsman and current KRL captain, Mohammad Wasim, then recommended that Irfan go to Rawalpindi and trial with the team. All it took was a stint at the nets bowling to Wasim for Irfan to get selected.

Irfan made his first-class debut against PIA on October 10 this year. He went wicketless and conceded 79 runs from 25 overs. In his second game, Irfan took nine: seven in the second innings including former Test batsmen Imran Farhat, Hasan Raza and Salim Elahi.

His former coach, Iqbal, was duly delighted for his ward. "Irfan, once he settles into first-class cricket, will show signs of maturity," he said. "The best thing about Irfan is that he is a quick learner and he bowled only one no-ball in his 46 overs against HBL.

"His main aim should be to obviously take as many wickets as possible and to remember the advice that he has been given about bowling wicket to wicket and not to bowl too short. With his height, if he maintains a good length he will trouble a lot of batsman in Pakistan".

KRL team official Rashid Iqbal, who was contacted by Ali in June, predicted a rise in speed. "At the moment he is raw and he bowls between 130-140 kph (81-87 mph) but I am sure that with the passage of time he could bowl up to 150 kph (93 mph)," he told AP.

It is perhaps no surprise that one of the fast bowlers Irfan, 27, hopes to emulate is Garner. "I have seen quite a lot of videos how Garner used to bowl," he said "The videos help a lot to learn the art of fast bowling."

For someone who just wanted to play cricket and nothing else, Irfan knows that those who have invested in him have high hopes.

With inputs from

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tauqeer on October 23, 2009, 16:40 GMT

    For what ever reason my previous comment are not posted."Cricinfo can you look into this" Irfan has great potentional to be a very dangerous bowler, He can improve a lot with help of Wasim and Aqib. I would say he has good ten years of international cricket. Had he joined the teeam earlier he would be retiring at 32 but he is not expose to the international crazzyyyness that goeas arroud when team travels outside of the country, I would say he should be OK. Good luch and all th ebest Irfan. Insha Allah good days are just arround the corner because Aqib is asst coach of PAk team now and he has already seen you bowl.

  • Fawad Asrar on October 23, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    Follow Irfan's progress on facebook on his fan page

  • adil on October 22, 2009, 17:08 GMT

    27 years old??? thats very old for a Pakistani to make their debut, isnt it?

  • Ahsan on October 22, 2009, 16:05 GMT

    Can some1 tell me how fast he can bowl..... if he can consistently bowl at 90mph

  • Muhammad on October 22, 2009, 15:46 GMT

    Thank you Mr. Aaqib Javaid you are doing great job. I want to see more ..... from backup is always with you.

  • Farhan on October 22, 2009, 13:13 GMT

    Imagine a bowler around 7 ft delivery the ball on a fast bouncy pitch say at the WACA or on some grounds in New Zealand/South Africa.

    Pakistan pitches won't get the best out of him, but still he has to bowl with intelligence and control.

    Good luck to him and congratulations for all those who made him get even first class level, i.e. Aaqib, Azar Ali, Nadeem Iqbal and the guys at

  • irfan on October 22, 2009, 10:30 GMT

    He is allready 28 years of age and will be able to play for 3 or 4 more years. My point is why the talent hunt was so late.

    If he is capable then he should have been noticed much much before i mean throwing the fast ball from such a hight is not easy to play. Remember the great Embrose?

    My suggestion to PCB is please start looking for players like this i am sure you will be able to find a lot of such players in the rural areas of Pakistan.

    Just go and keep looking this is your job. And please revive the club cricket in pakistan

  • Mohammad Imran on October 22, 2009, 9:41 GMT

    Wao, just an amazing thing, starts from Fazal Mehmood and seems will never stop. Pakistan is always been a real fast bowling garage with an ability to break from head to toe of any batsmen OR bat to wicket of any wood crafted cricket stuff. really shows that the fast bowling is an art and don't need any pace academy to get polished but a single opportunity. i am really looking forward to see the 7.2 feet tall guy knocking the pitch in front of the world and challenging not only the batting skills of the batsmen but their braveness as well. Good luck Irfan and Good luck Pakistan.

  • bishart on October 22, 2009, 9:38 GMT

    how a Tall person will be televised in a TV...? very strange

  • abdul on October 22, 2009, 7:58 GMT

    Pakistan has always produced gud fast bowlers over the years. the best attack in the world, we have always heard about. No wonder if dis guy plays n shows a big tallent. he will have a tough competition ahead as there are a lot of Irfans, wahabs sohils and Raufs. bst of luck IRFAN, it'll be a fun watching a 7 plus to bowl to sachin. Huhh

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