May 15, 2001

Sami gears up as Ward reflects on life as a high flyer


Mohammad Sami may be raw, but he has the natural talent and pace to forge a successful Test career according to Pakistan coach, Richard Pybus.

 Mohammad Sami
Mohammad Sami
Photo © AFP

Sami bowled 14 no balls during the first innings of the tourists' game against Kent. But Pybus feels that the experience of coping with the awkward Canterbury slope will have proved beneficial for the Pakistani youngster.

"Sami's only 20, he's got potential so we've got to manage him," explained Pybus. "It was good just to get a feel of the slope particularly for somebody like him. Coming downhill, with the angle on the deck, hasn't done him any harm.

"We'll have a chat with him, we spoke about the no-balls the other day and we'll have another look at it. He wasn't that unhappy himself after the first innings, it was just the slope."

Sami looks likely to make the starting XI at Lord's on Thursday for what will be just his third Test with Pybus convinced that, with a little work, the young fast bowler could develop into a top bowler.

"In the second innings he bowled only two no balls and a much better line and length. He still bowled a bit short but when you are so close to a Test match, it's about fine tuning."

Meanwhile, England new boy Ian Ward has been reminiscing about his former job as an aircraft cleaner.

"I cleaned the inside of aircraft which was interesting," Ward told reporters during an England training session at Lord's.

"But standing here is a little bit better, I have to say. It's been a real turnaround for me. While I was working there, I still had the ambition to play cricket but I thought the chance had gone."

However, Surrey had been keeping an eye on his progress in club cricket and offered him another trial.

"It was a phone call out of the blue," he recalled. "I ummed and aahed about whether I should go along but I did in the end. I scored a 100 in that trial game and it sort of went from there."

Ward scored heavily for the Second XI and took his chances well when senior players were on Test duty. He has toured twice with England A, proving particularly successful on the recent tour of the West Indies.

The determination to fight back having been released has impressed many on-lookers. As team-mate Graham Thorpe noted: "He's battled his way back after being sacked. That shows a lot about his character and you need character in Test cricket. He's a batsman who has a very simple technique, a very uncomplicated player."