Cricket love for every Pakistani is a fact. I remember when i started playing cricket in the ground of my house. I never missed watching a single cricket match on TV till the year 2003 but after it, i hardly watch and care now. I remember my saddest mood ever in the early teenage days when Pakistan lost to India in Semi Finals of World Cup in 1996. In every evening after returning from the school, i played cricket with a man lived on our back suburbs named “Idrees. When i decided to join a local cricket club P&T after giving my Bachelor Degree exams, i found equal appreciation as well as resistance. My uncle (Dr. Khalid Mehmood) who was a former Under-19 first class player had encouraged me and it was his reference that i got membership of P&T Cricket Club. On the first day of joining cricket club (P&T), I went to the ground and saw players of five other clubs practicing on the cricket pitches (made of cement) side by side. Each club had more than 70 players, many were standing at the end corner waiting for their batting turn and others were in que for bowling to the practicing batsman.
The first day, i was told to buy cricket kit as soon as possible and then i went to Zaidi Sports Shop near Chouburji Chowk for the purchase. I didn’t know what type of cricket bat should i purchase except a heavy in weight like Lance Kluesner from South Africa (my hero of that time) used to use for his matches. I found the heaviest one among many worth around Rs. 1400/- of Ihsan Company (Sialkot – Pakistan) and then purchased other equipment like Thai and arm pads, gloves, cover etc. On the second day, i was asked to bat under cricket nets, as i was a fan of Lance Kluesner batting style, his way of standing as well as how he carry up his bat & hit the ball hard for boundaries.
I started practicing hitting the ball hard like Kluesner did in cricket matches. Hardly two balls reached by bat out of many during practice under nets on the second day and then one ball of a fast bowler hit my right foot so hard (ball was a yorker), that i was unable to walk from my place even a single inch. I didn’t inform any one and stood on back as a fielder for 3 consecutive hours with other players. After the end of the day session, i took up my kit and walked about one kilometer to the bus station with the injured foot. I didn’t inform my family members about the pain & injury till the evening when my sister watched me walking with one leg and shouted “Mom! Bhai is not well“. I kept hiding the injury of foot because i was frightened that if my father could know it might cancel my further practice and membership with the club. But he was more supportive and took me to hospital. In the same evening, uncle who supported me came to my house and took me outside in my home ground with bat (he wanted to check the quality of my bat), hard ball (cricket ball) and started playing with even i was only been able to stand on one foot due to severe pain.
After three days, again went back to the P&T cricket club ground even was bit frightened from the ball but start bating practice with an advice from one player that i should first stop the ball instead of hitting and make my defense stronger.
The day came which was the best day of practice when Mr. Aleem Dar (who was the captain of P&T club team and an International Umpire came to practice and was bowling to me. I valiantly stopped his all bowls (Mr. Dar was a medium pacer with good swinging balls) with good technique like well established batsman do (head down, elbow up). When walked back to the fielding side after utilizing my turn of batting practice and came near to Mr. Dar, asked him about my batting “Sir, theek Khaila hoon ?”, his expressions were amazing, given me smile and said “excellent”. That moment was one of the best among many of my life as the expressions of Mr. Dar and many other senior players of cricket club were amazing and i thought that i do fall in the category of some talented players and can make my place in National team more earlier then others. I packed my all cricketing tools back in a cricket bag when all other players came to me and said your style is like Ricky Ponting of Australia, other said his style is like of Sachin Tendulkar. That was the biggest complement of my life, suddenly a player among many asked me to show us that how you kept the bat and please pretend like if you are stopping the ball. I asked senior player of the club Mr. Raza Hassan (who is currently an umpire of Pakistan Cricket Board and a former first Class Wicket keeping Player) about my mistakes in the practice, he told me that your defensive technique was excellent not less than defensive style of any international player but timing for playing the shot is a bit late. During the six months tenure with the P&T Cricket Club, no body guided me about how to kept the bat, how to stand in front of the wicket (positioning) and how to have a best defense to save the wicket against fast bowlers as well as spinner It means that coaching at club level is nil and its up to pure talent of a player that he develop himself into a best one and makes his mark in the national cricketing team in Pakistan.
All the players of club appreciated the quality of my bat and use to ask from where did you buy that. They normally use my bat instead of their own bat and it was bit irritating for me because i was frightened that if my bat may be broken by them. I played in the club for six months and left to re-continue my studies. My desire to be their in National Cricket Team didn’t fulfilled because of many factors as i saw many players in my cricket club plus of adjacent clubs too aged and all were unable to make there place in the team so i thought “could i get the chance too ” which i know was a negative feeling as well as loss of trust on my own talent. Other was my education because almost 90% of all players had only cleared 10th grade (Matric) or even not. May be if i had unable to make my place in National Team and even upon serving my 10 years in cricket, i might also have had lost the time for studies.