Tour Diary

Wrong foot, right time

Rashid Khan actually bowled off the wrong foot, as opposed to Sohail Tanvir, who gives an optical illusion to that effect

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga


The thing about Pakistan is that great cricketers can be found anywhere, you just have to have an eye. Their former players don't have any airs about them. So if you haven't seen them before, there is a chance you may not know that roaming amongst us, chatting, looking after things, are some of the interesting characters of the game. One such player is Rashid Khan - the original wrong-foot bowler from Asia. He actually bowled off the wrong foot, as opposed to Sohail Tanvir, who gives an optical illusion to that effect. Rashid got Viv Richards out for a duck in his debut ODI, and puts it down to being wrong-footed. That should be incentive enough for a host of youngsters to put their wrong foot out.
What was Rashid's incentive, though? "Nothing, I never realised for a long time. I used to think my action was very good.
"And in those days, around 1976, very few matches were shown on TV. When I went to watch a match between Pakistan and Australia, we saw Max Walker bowl. A friend of mine said, 'Your action is just like Walker's'. I said, 'No chance. My action can't be like his.' "But when I went back and saw the highlights of the match in news, I realised for the first time I actually bowled off the wrong foot."
Today it would be difficult to escape the coach’s notice if you bowled off the wrong foot. "Those days there was no concept of coaching. We used to just go play, try to win, and nobody ever told me that there was something wrong with my action. Nobody told me it was strange till then."
The action came naturally to Rashid, who is now the China coach, and he never felt uncomfortable bowling off the wrong foot. The advantage he got from bowling like that was something similar to what Wasim Akram gained from his action. Rashid wasn't quick in the air, but off the pitch he would come quicker than the others. It is a shame he hasn’t met Mike Procter or Max Walker; he would have experiences to share that only others wrong-footers might understand.
Rashid’s most memorable wicket is of course Richards's. "Sometimes with this action the arm goes quickly, but the ball comes slow. I had that advantage. I got Viv's wicket in that fashion in the first ODI. I was bowling outswingers, he committed to the shot, but the ball came slow, and he was caught at cover.
"Salim Parvez was always scared of facing me. He was tall, and struggled to get his bat down in time, because of the pace off the pitch. I always used to get him leg-before."
And this last bit is for scientists and evolutionists to wonder at: "My 18-year-old son, who has never seen me bowl or my tapes, bowls ditto like me," says Rashid.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo