Widely considered as a main-stay of Pakistan's middle-order in the Limited-over format, all-rounder Imad Wasim is also more than a useful spin-bowler with an uncanny ability to take key wickets for his team. The twenty-seven-year-old has continued to impress one and all ever since his debut against Zimbabwe during the historic home-series in 2015 and has thus far taken an impressive tally of forty wickets and scored three-hundred and fifty-five runs in twenty-nine international games.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Imad spoke about his success in international cricket, the secret behind his confident demeanour on the cricket pitch, how being picked for Twenty20 leagues around the world is helping him improve as a cricketer, the frustration as a young cricketer of not playing in high profile games against India as well as his aspirations to represent Pakistan in Tests.
By Saj Sadiq (18th October, 2016)
PakPassion.net : You've made a fantastic start in international cricket, are you surprised as to how well it has gone for you?
Imad Wasim : Not really because I have always worked very hard in domestic cricket and it's pleasing that I'm finding my feet in international cricket which is a good thing. I've just taken it game by game really and my passion has always been to play for my country. I've always been keen to represent my country and I am an ambitious cricketer. I've worked hard and I've performed and I always give 100% on the field and the rest is down to the Almighty.
PakPassion.net : You've settled into international cricket so well and adjusted to its demands so quickly. Why do you think that is?
Imad Wasim : What has helped is that I've had eight or nine seasons behind me of First-Class cricket before I got into the international side, and playing for Pakistan Under 19s and Pakistan A has also helped a lot. I knew playing international cricket would be tough, but deep down I knew that I wanted to make a name for myself and for my country. If you take all that into consideration then I don't think it's surprising that I have made a good start in international cricket.
PakPassion.net : Pakistan's domestic cricket set-up keeps getting criticised but it keeps producing high-quality cricketers doesn't it?
Imad Wasim : Look whoever is criticising domestic cricket I respect their views but our domestic cricket is producing a lot of players. It keeps producing young cricketers who go on and play international cricket and perform very well. There is a lot of talent in Pakistan and our domestic circuit has to take credit for producing and developing this talent. This same domestic cricket is ensuring that there is a lot of healthy competition for places in all formats.
PakPassion.net : You are a cricketer who was developed by Islamabad Region and have continued to play for them despite interest from departmental teams. Has that been a difficult decision for you to make?
Imad Wasim : When I was nothing and unheard of, Islamabad Region believed in me and gave me a chance. Now that I am playing for Pakistan, departmental teams have made me some lucrative offers to play for them, but now is my time to give back something to Islamabad Region. I want to give something back to my city and the people who gave me a chance and to help young cricketers from Islamabad.
PakPassion.net : You not only have an excellent economy rate but have the ability to take wickets. How difficult is it to balance attack and defence as a bowler?
Imad Wasim : I just try to keep things simple and keep bowling wicket to wicket and attack the stumps. My theory is that, if you miss I will hit. I concentrate on bowling a consistent length because I feel that is a length that is difficult for batsmen to play. So far I'm very satisfied with what I have achieved.
PakPassion.net : It seems that you are a cricketer who doesn't mind offering the opposition a bit of advice on the field?
Imad Wasim : I'm an ambitious person and an ambitious cricketer and when I am on the field all I want to do is to win the match for my country. If people are chirping at me then I will give it back to them in a nice way. I like to take the game on and am not one of those cricketers who will just sit back and listen to the opposition. I want to be involved in the game and maybe that has had a hand in my success.
PakPassion.net : The England players seemed to want to have a few exchanges with you. How did you feel about that?
Imad Wasim : It's just part of the game. The England players are a great bunch of guys and I respect them and they are playing for their country and they want to win a game of cricket for their country. The same goes for me, I want to desperately win for my country also. So it's fine inside the ground and outside the ground they are very nice guys and to be honest I don't really like to talk about cricket outside of the ground. It's all good and nothing too malicious.
PakPassion.net : There's a swagger and confidence about you. You give the impression that you belong in international cricket.
Imad Wasim : That confidence comes from within me. I think I was born like that. On the field I want to be involved in everything. I want to work hard. Success breeds confidence and if you watch the legends of the game, the likes of Viv Richards, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan they all had very positive body language. If you are confident enough you can achieve anything, but of course that confidence needs to be expressed in a good way and should not become overconfidence. My approach is that I want to win the game with either bat or ball or both if possible. I'm a naturally confident person in life in general and away from cricket. I want to take the game on and take on challenges and I have never backed down from any challenge that is in front of me. Win or lose, you have to be brave enough to step up and grab any opportunity in front of you.
PakPassion.net : For some you are a bowler who only takes wickets when the opposition batsmen are looking to attack. What do you say to this kind of remark?
Imad Wasim : Whoever is saying that I respect their opinion as I always take criticism in a positive way. That person is saying what they are for my benefit and I'm glad that some people are making this observation and obviously it's something I will look at and rectify. But whatever is happening right now things are going in the right direction and I want that to continue. Obviously people will criticise but what's more important is that you take this criticism in a positive way. I do respect in equal measure the people who praise me and criticise me.
PakPassion.net : With expectations comes pressure. Do you feel that you are capable of handling the ever-increasing pressure on you?
Imad Wasim : I have to satisfy myself with my performances before I try to satisfy others. My expectations for myself are very high so my aim is to ensure that I satisfy myself with my performances before worrying about satisfying others. What I have done so far in my performances counts for nothing, it's the future that matters. What matters is that I give my 100%, work hard, stay loyal to my cricket and the results will come. I want to be part of a team that brings consistency to Pakistan cricket as we have been labelled unpredictable in the past and that is a tag we want to remove.
PakPassion.net : You are becoming a regular pick in Twenty20 leagues around the world. How is playing in those leagues helping you as a cricketer?
Imad Wasim : When I went to play in the Caribbean Premier League someone asked me about my aims and I said I am not here for the money. What I am here for is to learn and to improve as a cricketer and to learn about the conditions and to share a dressing room with some of the best players in the world. Every time I play in one of these leagues my aim is to adapt to the conditions and to learn. Money can come and go so it's not about the money, it's about learning and improving. I'm lucky enough to have been picked by some of the teams in various leagues but the best part is that I am learning which is helping me to develop as a cricketer.
PakPassion.net : Is playing County Cricket a target in future?
Imad Wasim : Yes I am interested. Hopefully an offer will come up and if I am available I would definitely like to give it a go. I intend to play County Cricket and also feature in leagues around the world like the Bangladesh Premier League, The Big Bash and others.
PakPassion.net : As a young Pakistani cricketer it must be frustrating that regular matches against India are not possible?
Imad Wasim : Yes absolutely. These are massive matches for both countries and if you manage to win such a game for your country you become a hero which would be a huge achievement. I think given that these matches are such a rarity they become huge when they do actually happen. No doubt when the time comes for me to play against India I will be pumped up. There are a lot of top-class cricketers in India and it's a challenge that I am looking forward to in future if I am selected.
PakPassion.net : We've seen many Pakistani players make a great start to their international career and then lose their way. What's to say you won't be one of those players?
Imad Wasim : I have waited ten years for a chance to play for Pakistan and I am not going to let it go easily; that's for sure. I am going to do everything in my power to not just stay in the Pakistan team but also to make a name for myself and make my country proud.
PakPassion.net : You've made a good start to your international cricket career in the Limited-Overs formats. Is Test cricket on your radar?
Imad Wasim : Ask any cricketer and it's their dream to play Test cricket for their country. Test cricket is the ultimate test for any cricketer and it tests your mental approach. Playing Test cricket is the only goal a player can have. But, I don't rush things and if the selectors and coach and captain want me to play Test cricket I will give my all. If I am not selected I don't mind as it's something that is out of my hands or in my control. I will just continue to work hard and carry on playing in the formats I am picked for and in domestic cricket.