Haris Rauf impressed one and all after being plucked from relative obscurity by the Pakistan Super League side Lahore Qalandars where he enjoyed a dream debut season taking 11 wickets in 10 games.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Haris spoke about his disappointment of missing out on selection for the Pakistan squad for this year’s World Cup, his experience of working with new Pakistan Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq and Bowling Coach Waqar Younis, his aims to represent Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2020 and why he is impressed by the Australian pace-bowlers currently playing in the Ashes.
By Amir Husain (10th September, 2019)
PakPassion.net: You must have been disappointed at not being part of the World Cup squad after good performances in the PSL?
Haris Rauf: Yes, I was disappointed as I was trying very hard to perform well in the PSL with an eye on selection for the World Cup so that I could represent Pakistan on a world stage. The PSL experience itself was a good one and playing under the captaincy of AB de Villiers and Mohammad Hafeez, and alongside international players was an amazing experience and gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities. Unfortunately, I was not named for Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup squad, but my philosophy is never to give up and always make the most of every opportunity I get. So, I am going to continue working hard and perform well in every match I play to try and make myself noticed for Pakistan selection in the future.PakPassion.net: You must have high hopes of representing Pakistan in the future?
Haris Rauf: I am ready to serve my country whenever my services are needed. I am continuing to work hard and just waiting for a chance to represent my country and that is my only goal.PakPassion.net: These must be exciting times for Pakistan fast-bowlers as we have a few like Mohammad Hasnain who can bowl quick?
Haris Rauf: We have had some brilliant young fast-bowlers emerge from the PSL such as Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Musa and that is great news for Pakistan. We all know that pace does matter when you play at the international level and so the emergence of all of these bowlers is a positive sign for Pakistan’s future and this will definitely help us win more games. There is a healthy competition between all of us fast-bowlers and that’s a good thing for Pakistan cricket. It doesn’t matter who comes out first in this race to become the fastest bowler for the country as at the end of the day, it's Pakistan that will benefit from all of our efforts.
PakPassion.net: You must be excited about having Waqar Younis as bowling coach for Pakistan?
Haris Rauf: Waqar Younis’s ability to reverse swing the ball was legendary and I also try and emulate him whenever I get an older ball to bowl with. I was extremely lucky that during my stint in the recent Emerging Players camp in Lahore which ran alongside PCB’s pre-season camp for senior players, Waqar Bhai spent some time with me. Although, he was at the NCA for about two days, he still took out time to give me a lot of advice on how to use the bowling crease to my advantage and gave me tips on reverse-swing and my run-up as well. With him as our national bowling coach, Pakistan’s bowling will really improve. I am hoping that if, God Willing, I become part of the national side, I will have a golden opportunity to learn more from him as there are still a lot of areas that I need to work upon and you cannot hope for a better mentor than Waqar Younis for that.PakPassion.net: What was that experience of training at the NCA like and how did it feel to be bowling to members of the current Pakistan team?
Haris Rauf: That was an amazing experience and it was made more enjoyable and fruitful in the manner it was organised by Misbah-ul-Haq who was the camp commandant. There was a very well-thought-out schedule and I was called in to bowl on the central wicket where usually the best batsmen would practice their batting. In there, I got an opportunity to bowl to some top players like Azhar Ali, Abid Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed. Bowling to such good quality batsmen also gives you a lot of confidence in your own abilities and of course, helps you learn more.PakPassion.net: How did you find working with the new Pakistan Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq?
Haris Rauf: Misbah Bhai was a great help for me and gave me a lot of tips. He would usually stand close by and would advise me on where to bowl to specific batsmen and how to change my bowling style depending on whether I was playing in a 4-day or a Limited-Overs game. He also gave me pointers about the line and length and channels in which to bowl depending on the type of cricket I was playing. So overall, I got to learn a lot of new stuff from Misbah Bhai and he even pointed out areas of improvement that I had never thought about myself.PakPassion.net: What advantage do you see in the use of the Kookaburra ball for domestic cricket in Pakistan?
Haris Rauf: This is a hugely important change, and this will greatly help to ease the jump from domestic cricket to international level for our players as Pakistan use Kookaburra balls for their international home series. As for me, I have good experience with this type of ball as I used it during my stint in Australia as well as in the PSL. From my experience I can say that having this ball will be great for both batsmen and bowlers in domestic games and I am looking forward to using this when I start domestic cricket this season.PakPassion.net: Are you now looking forward to a possible First-Class debut in the upcoming season?
Haris Rauf: Yes, this is an exciting time for me as I have been named in the first XI of the Northern Association side for the upcoming Quaid-e-Azam trophy. Our first game starts 14th September and given my good preparations in the emerging players camp alongside Pakistan team players, I am very confident that I will do well this season if given a chance to play. This season will be crucial for me as I feel that by doing well in it, I will get myself noticed for selection for Pakistan which is really my ultimate target.PakPassion.net: Are you focused towards maintaining your fitness as you look forward to commitments in the upcoming season?
Haris Rauf: I have never compromised on my fitness and this is one aspect of my cricket that I really enjoy and am fanatical about. Due to my good fitness regime, I feel no real stress when bowling and am hoping to improve my fitness even more in the future. In the camp, Misbah-ul-Haq devoted a lot of attention to fitness and even though it was extremely hot, the presence of such a great player made it all worthwhile and gave me extra motivation to work even harder on my fitness.PakPassion.net: What are your aims for this season?
Haris Rauf: Not playing in the 2019 World Cup was pretty disappointing for me but at that time I had set my next target as the T20 World Cup 2020 which I am totally committed to now. I do not want to miss selection for that tournament, and I will do what it takes to make sure I am fit and ready for selection. I have played two years ago in Australia and I know the pitches and have a good understanding of conditions in that part of the world very well so I should be able to do well in the T20 World Cup 2020, if given the chance.PakPassion.net: Which format of cricket do you prefer to play in?
Haris Rauf: From my point of view, I would like to play all three formats of the game for my country. It's just a matter of what format the selectors prefer me for as I am ready to give my hundred percent in any form of the game.PakPassion.net: Which current fast bowlers do you look up to?
Haris Rauf: Amongst my contemporaries, Shaheen Shah Afridi is one bowler who has really impressed me and in the PSL he and I made a good bowling pair and we both learnt a lot from each other. Of course, amongst the senior bowlers, Wahab Riaz is an example for all younger bowlers to follow. His yorkers are phenomenal and I was really hoping that during the recent camp, I could get to bowl alongside him and pick some valuable tips. Thankfully that happened and I did speak to him and watched him bowl and then put that learning into action and the effects were immediate for me. Amongst international bowlers, Dale Steyn has been my role model from the day I started to bowl and that is still the case today. The out-swing he gets from his deliveries is just incredible and I really enjoy watching that and always try and do the same when I am bowling too.PakPassion.net: Have you been impressed by the quality of cricket in the Ashes?
Haris Rauf: I have to say that I really enjoy watching the Ashes as the competition is intense in these games as we have seen in the recent games in England. For me it’s also important for bowlers like myself to learn from how bowlers from both sides bowl in the Ashes. The way the good bowlers set up the batsmen to take their wickets, and the skills of the bowlers are brilliant and this is also something that was pointed out to me by Mudassar Nazar during our camp.PakPassion.net: Any bowlers that have impressed you in the Ashes?
Haris Rauf: During the Ashes, Pat Cummins has really impressed me with his bowling but it is no surprise that he has done so well. When I played in Australia, I trained once in the nets alongside Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc and, I watched them closely and tried to learn from them and the skills they had, such as reverse-swinging the ball, were simply amazing.