Pakistan A v Australians, tour match, Sharjah, 3rd day October 17, 2014

Haider swaps dirhams for Australian deliveries

On the first two days of this game, Saqlain Haider was working in a bank, dealing with dirhams from 8am until 4pm. On day three, he was standing behind the stumps negotiating nasty Mitchell Johnson deliveries. And he wouldn't have traded it for the world.

A member of the UAE national squad, Haider was called in by the Australians to keep wicket in the second innings of their warm-up match against Pakistan A, to allow Brad Haddin to rest and freshen up ahead of the first Test. It was quite a step up for a man who only made his UAE debut this year.

He proved himself more than up to the task. Haider took one terrific catch off the edge of Shan Masood's bat when Nathan Lyon got a ball to turn and bounce sharply, and his work against the fast men was clean and efficient.

After the day's play, he displayed with pride a few red marks on his palms and fingers, physical evidence that keeping to Johnson is tough work.

"It hurt me, see!" he said. "He is a very speedy fast bowler. It was the first time I've experienced that in my life, 150-plus I think. I learnt many things from that. He is a very good fast bowler.

"It was my first time experiencing so much pace, like Starc and Johnson, they are very speedy bowlers. It is a very big experience in my life. I am very proud and I learnt something from that."

Judging by the way the Australians received him, he should be proud of himself. There were pats on the back all round from the players when he took the catch off Lyon, as well as a more typically Australian bear hug from Steve O'Keefe.

"He was brilliant, he provided a lot of energy even in a trial game sense," Lyon said of Haider. "He took an absolute screamer of a catch off myself. It can be difficult to take a catch when it bounces so much but he gloved them really well. He should be really happy with himself. I know all the boys are around him in the change room right now and he is enjoying himself that's for sure."

Had he not been called up by the Australians, Haider would have been at training with the UAE squad on Friday, trying to push his case for World Cup selection after qualifying as a UAE player this year. His family is all back in Pakistan, but he had plenty of friends at the ground to see him in an Australian outfit.

"Three days before, my coach Aaqib Javed informed me that Haddin was having a rest and you need to go and keep for the Australians," Haider said. "I was really shocked and very happy.

"I had a very good experience. I was very proud to learn many things from the Australian cricketers. I was really impressed with their behaviour. They are very loving and they supported me well. I am really impressed by the Australians as cricketers and as human beings also.

"They were very sportsmanlike, like brothers. It means a lot to me and I will never forget it. I was really impressed with their behaviour. I was very proud to play for Australia. Okay, it was only a warm-up match but I was very proud."

Haider was happily sporting the Australian team warm-up kit after play. Asked if he was allowed to keep it, he smiled and said yes. And if anyone at the bank next week doesn't believe what he did on his weekend, he can show them the kit - and his bruised hands - as proof.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

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