December 04, 1977, Faisalabad, Punjab
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Shahid Nazir, like Fazl-e-Akbar, is from a school of fast-medium pacers who have lorded over the domestic circuit without quite ridding people of the suspicion that they lacked something to make an impact internationally. As a fast-medium bowler of healthy pace, Nazir's entry into international cricket in 1996-97 was impressive enough. Seven wickets on debut against Zimbabwe were impressive but ultimately overshadowed by Wasim Akram's 257. It has been the way with his career so far.
His pace and ability to swing and seam the ball, extravagantly in helpful conditions, meant he played a vital part in Pakistan's only triangular triumph in Australia (the Carlton & United series in 1996-97) in the final stages though his contribution was overshadowed by the emergence of Mohammad Zahid and the blistering pace he generated earlier in the tournament.
Essentially that period - match-fixing rife, Wasim and Waqar in confrontation, Aaqib Javed on the decline and splits in the team - marked Nazir's best opportunity to cement a place for himself. He didn't and was soon plying his trade - albeit very successfully - on the domestic circuit. At some point, all that domestic success had to keep him in the frame, especially with Pakistan's first-choice pace attack after the 2003 World Cup so injury-prone. It eventually did with a recall to the squad in 2005; he didn't play any role for some time but with Pakistan missing three front-line pacers on the tour to England in 2006, there was always a chance that he would return. So it was, at the third Test at Headingley - a ground ideal for his brand of bowling - that Nazir returned to Test cricket, over seven years after his last Test.
He played in the series against West Indies and toured South Africa but could only manage 13 wickets in five matches. The emergence of Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul affected Nazir's hopes of a comeback, which he jeopardised further by joining the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League.
Osman Samiuddin (February 2008)
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