Yasir Arafat September 4, 2012

'I'm a green belt in karate'

Interview by Jack Wilson
Yasir Arafat travels the world to play T20. When he's not trying to memorise the names of his team-mates, he enjoys playing football and watching boxing

You fly around the world playing T20. It's not a bad life, is it?
I'm certainly enjoying it at the moment. T20 is a great format to play and test yourself in, and I've had a bit of success in it too. I became the leading wicket-taker in the history of England's T20 competition, and in New Zealand I bowled the Super Over in a victory for Otago.

So you've played for nine different teams now. Ever have any difficulty remembering your new team-mates' names?
For the first two weeks when I go to a new team, I do find it very difficult. It's hard to get to know everyone, but once you do, it feels like you've been there forever. I came over to play for Lancashire this summer and they were a great bunch.

Where's the best place in the world to play cricket?
That's a hard one. I've enjoyed playing all over the place but for the last 12 years I've always had special times in England. I won the Twenty20 Cup with Kent and that was a great period for me.

Tell us about the most memorable match you've played in?
It would have to be my Test debut for Pakistan. We were playing India in Bangalore and I ended up with five wickets in the first innings.

Do you regret you only played three Tests?
I don't think you can look back and regret anything. I'd have liked to have played more, of course, but just to play Test cricket is incredible enough. I'm proud of what I've achieved.

Your five wickets in six balls for Rawalpindi against Faisalabad equalled a world record. How do you feel to always be in cricket's history books?
To be honest, at the time I didn't even realise it was a record. The wickets were taken over the course of two innings, so I didn't know about it until I read a newspaper, and I was like, "Whoa." It's a great memory to treasure for me and my family.

You played a lot with Shoaib Akhtar. How did you go about avoiding him in the nets?
Luckily I didn't have to face him at full tilt! He used to take it easy whenever he bowled in the nets. I played with him when I was with Pakistan, Rawalpindi and Khan Research Labs. He's a great friend and a massively talented player. What he could do with the ball was incredible, and the pace he generated was out of this world.

Which one batsman from the past would you have liked to have bowled to?
I've bowled to some amazing players in my time but I never got the chance to bowl to Brian Lara. He's a pure genius and it would have been an incredible test to go up against him.

Who's your all-time hero outside of cricket?
I like my boxing, so I'd have to say Muhammad Ali. He was a great person and a great fighter. I have a lot of admiration for how he dealt with the media too.

What's the secret to bowling the perfect yorker?
The biggest key is a lot of practice. It's not something you can suddenly just do consistently. The aim should be to fire it in at the base of the stumps, so keep focused on them as you run in. Yorkers are a lot easier to bowl with an old ball rather than a new one.

What's your favourite shot?
It's hard to beat a nicely middled cut shot.

Rather take a five-wicket haul or score a fifty?
Nothing beats taking wickets, so it'd have to be a five-wicket haul.

Which cricketer in the world would you pay to watch?
I've seen a lot of him, and the one man that stands out in my mind is Chris Gayle. I played with him for the Barisal Burners in the Bangladesh Premier League and he's incredible. He hits the ball absolutely miles, and he's a top man too. I wouldn't have many complaints if I had to pay money to watch him.

Describe yourself in three words.
Quiet, relaxed, focused.

Baths or showers?
Baths beat showers, that's for sure. Except if they're ice baths. They are not so nice.

Where do you store your tomato ketchup - in the cupboard or in the fridge?
(Laughs) In the fridge, seriously? It has to be in the cupboard.

Tell us something we didn't know about you.
That's tricky. I love playing football - does that count? I'm a green belt in karate too. No one will know that.