I want to represent Pakistan in all formats - Riaz
Pakistan seamer Wahab Riaz has credited the series he played against Australia A two years back as being crucial in his development and believes he will become a complete bowler once he has perfected his inswinger.
"The great thing about that tour was that we were playing against a talented side," Riaz told PakPassion.net. "As a result, we also had to ensure that we were performing at a higher level and giving it our best. The thing is, when you are competing against a good side, you have to be more disciplined and you also learn to experiment a little bit.
"Personally, after playing against a strong opposition like Australia A in their conditions, I started to gain more confidence. I remember that in the very first innings I was able to grab five wickets against them. Consequently, the confidence I gained from that achievement, I never let go of it and have never looked back."
Riaz broke into the Test side in the 2010 tour of England that was eventually tainted by the spot-fixing scandal, but he made an impact right away, taking a five-for at The Oval on debut. His stock ball is the one that is angled away from the right-hander, but he is now developing the one that moves the other way. "I have been working very hard to develop the inswinging delivery and it is coming along. While it will take some time to perfect, I know that once it is perfected I will become a better all round bowler."
Riaz is confident he can develop the inswinger without ruining his natural ability to shape the ball away. "I have talked to Wasim Akram too and he has helped me a lot. I obviously can't develop deliveries and skills in just one month because for so many years, I have been bowling to my strength and sticking to basics. I know that people want to see the inswinger more often and God willing, this will happen. They [the fans] will have to wait just a little while longer."
Riaz was rested for Pakistan's ongoing tour of Zimbabwe and that gave him a chance to play country cricket for Kent, which he termed "a really good experience".
"After playing for Kent, with respect to the English conditions, you learn that one has to bowl differently every day, and you have to adjust relative to the wicket and match situation," he said.
Riaz currently averages 9.50 with the bat from seven Tests, but is confident that he can make a more substantial contribution. "At this point, I still need to focus a little bit more when batting and improve my concentration," he said. "I have been working hard to improve. Also, concerning my batting, the coaches at Kent have helped me a lot so when I play for Pakistan next time around, I will be a different batsman."
Riaz is capable of hitting 90 mph on a regular basis, which he puts down to working hard on his strength and fitness levels. "I have built up my strength and have also developed myself in this regards," he said. "While previously I was fast, now, in English County cricket this season, I have touched 93-94 mph quite regularly [in T20 games]. I always take care of my fitness and give it my full attention and that I believe is the main reason for the extra pace nowadays."
In an era when many bowlers have chosen to give up one or the other format, Riaz is confident he can manage to keep playing all three versions of the game. "It depends on your fitness level and your determination - what you want to do. Twenty20 and one-day cricket is basically entertainment cricket, for players who want to play less so they can play for a long time. But in my view, Test cricket is the real deal. I'm working hard on my fitness, and god-willing I will try my best to represent Pakistan in all formats for a long time."