Mohammad Hasnain's ability to bowl at speeds in excess of 150 KpH thrust him into the limelight when he made his debut for Quetta Gladiators in 2019. He debuted for Pakistan later that year and has to date played 26 times for his country, taking 29 wickets. He also became the youngest player to take a T20I hat-trick before a report on his bowling action put an abrupt halt to his career in February 2022. With the ICC now giving him the all-clear after remedial action, Mohammad Hasnain has returned to playing cricket and was signed-up by Worcestershire for a limited number of matches in the 2022 County Championship and will also be part of the Oval Invincibles squad in the 2022 edition of The Hundred.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Hasnain spoke about the initial shock of having his bowling action reported, the hard-work he has put in to remedy issues with his action, why he feels that the modified action will make him a better bowler, Shaheen Shah Afridi as a role model for up and coming fast-bowlers and his aspirations to represent Pakistan in this year's T20 World Cup in Australia.
By Saj Sadiq (1st August, 2022)
PakPassion.net: How difficult was it for you to be told that your bowling action was illegal?
Mohammad Hasnain: To be told that my action was illegal was a huge shock for me. I had never thought about this, and no one had mentioned this issue to me before, and I found it very difficult to believe. I always thought my action was a clean one and there was nothing hidden about it as everyone could see how I was bowling. Regardless of what I thought of it, I decided to accept this problem and work towards remedying the fault. Thanks to the Almighty, everything has worked out fine and I have fixed the problem and been given the all-clear to resume my career.
PakPassion.net: Were there ever any doubts in your mind about your bowling action during the time you were playing international cricket, Pakistan Super League or junior level cricket?
Mohammad Hasnain: There were absolutely no doubts in my mind during the time I was playing for Pakistan or in the various leagues. To me, my action was clean, and I never felt like I was doing anything wrong while bowling which is why the initial report about my action was so shocking for me and I found that to be incredible.
PakPassion.net: How exactly did the ban on your participation in cricket come about?
Mohammad Hasnain: My action was reported by the umpires during the first game of Big Bash League 11. When I had completed a five-game stint with Sydney Thunder and returned to Pakistan ahead of PSL 7, I was asked to undergo a test on my action at the ICC-accredited biomechanics laboratory in Lahore. Whilst the results were being prepared, I began my participation in the PSL and played the first 3 games before I was told that my action had been found to be illegal and on the directions of the PCB, stopped my participation in the tournament from February 2022.
PakPassion.net: Which of your deliveries caused the main problem in terms of your action?
Mohammad Hasnain: The actual issue was mainly related to my slow bouncer. The elbow extension was exceeding the 15-degree limit and even going up to the 18-degree mark as well which was really what was picked up by the umpires and the testing and then reported as well.
PakPassion.net: How did you go about working to fix your action and what was involved in this?
Mohammad Hasnain: Once I was suspended from playing in the PSL, I immediately went about fixing the issue by going to the National High Performance Centre in Lahore where I was asked to work with Umar Rasheed who was assigned to me by the PCB as my bowling coach. What followed next was some hard graft which lasted about 3 months and was very helpful to me in many ways.
PakPassion.net: Do you feel that this change in action will affect your bowling in a negative way?
Mohammad Hasnain: On the contrary. The work I did on my action at the NHPC has proved to be very beneficial in giving me more control on my deliveries and most importantly, as that is my primary weapon, my pace has not diminished at all after these changes. In fact, it is my belief that when I get into rhythm again and play more matches my pace will actually increase and I will be a better bowler with the new bowling action.
PakPassion.net: So would you say you are satisfied with the changes made to your action and are feeling confident about yourself?
Mohammad Hasnain: Absolutely, but I have to say that there haven’t been any big changes made to my action. Essentially my elbow extension which was the cause of the problem has been fixed and in doing so my overall bowling action and the run-up have all become smoother than what they were before. All these changes have given me a lot of confidence that I will be able to bowl even better and of course I am very happy with the whole situation.
PakPassion.net: But surely modifying an action you have been used to since the start of your career must be a difficult change to implement?
Mohammad Hasnain: This was a very tough period for me as getting used to a different action has not been that easy. To give you an idea of what I am talking about consider the fact that the last game I played before my debut for Worcestershire in the County Championship was almost six months ago. During this time, I had to work doubly hard to get my action in order which meant almost 7000-8000 repetitions of my bowling action. This included shadow bowling, bowling with half a run-up and also with a full run-up. All of that required a lot of patience and thankfully I approached all of this in a step-by-step manner which helped me clear my action and also gain much better control on my deliveries.
PakPassion.net: Tell us about your stint at Worcestershire and what you expect to gain from it?
Mohammad Hasnain: To play in County Cricket is a great opportunity for all cricketers and I am particularly happy to be here as I am following the tradition of some legendary Pakistan cricketers. Playing in County Cricket will give me the chance to bowl long spells and most importantly will allow me to put my modified bowling action to the test. This is a great opportunity to not only get used to my action but also to perform well for Worcestershire. In my debut game, I bowled with good control against some excellent batters and it was great to see that I was able to produce some good wicket-taking deliveries as well.
PakPassion.net: The Hundred will present a different experience for you as well?
Mohammad Hasnain: The Hundred will be a great experience for me as it’s a completely new format for me and presents a totally different challenge. I am already getting good experience in the 4-Day games and getting to use my modified action but now with The Hundred, I will have yet another format to assess my action and to learn to bowl with control in this shorter format which is similar to T20 in terms of the pressure on the bowlers. To have experience of both 4-Day games and The Hundred under my belt will be a great gain for me from my stay in England this summer and I am really looking forward to this opportunity.
PakPassion.net: Looking at your international record, are you a little disappointed that you have not played more games for Pakistan?
Mohammad Hasnain: I have been associated with the Pakistan team for a while now but yes, the number of matches I have played has not been that many and that does disappoint me on a personal level. I am hoping that by changing my action and becoming a more effective bowler I will be able to start a new chapter in my career where I will not only play more international cricket and become an established part of the team but also help Pakistan win more games as well. God Willing it is all onwards and upwards for me.
PakPassion.net: What areas of improvement in your bowling have you identified for yourself?
Mohammad Hasnain: I have some specific goals in mind when it comes to improvements that I wish to make to my bowling. To start with, I am looking to improve my run-up and action where I had a problem where my foot would land late at the point of delivery and my body seemed to fall over as well. On this one issue I have worked a lot and also have a more front-on action now rather than a side-on one which I had before.
PakPassion.net: Are you concerned about the fact that you have played just 7 First-class matches to date in a format which is considered to be a true test of a cricketer?
Mohammad Hasnain: This is definitely something which I am paying a great deal of attention to as it's my aim to represent Pakistan in Tests in the future. So, the current stint with Worcestershire in the County Championship where I hope to get good experience of 4-Day games is an important stepping-stone to the ultimate objective of playing Tests for Pakistan. Back home, in the 2021/22 season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, I played 4 games for Sindh and wanted to play more but then got busy with the tour of Pakistan by the West Indies. Now this opportunity with Worcestershire has come to me after almost 8-9 months so am very excited about it and I am very keen to make it count because doing well here could make me a good candidate to play Test cricket in the future.
PakPassion.net: There seems to be a healthy competition amongst fast-bowlers with the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Haris Rauf, Hassan Ali and yourself in the mix?
Mohammad Hasnain: This is great news for Pakistan that we have such excellent fast-bowlers. It’s healthy competition. As we are all good friends there is so much to learn from each other, and I am always in touch with them to discuss and share my experiences which I am sure will be beneficial to me in the future.
PakPassion.net: Would you agree that fast-bowling is not just about speed but requires an intelligent approach to get the best results?
Mohammad Hasnain: My philosophy in this matter is simple. I feel that whilst having the ability to bowl in the 140-150KpH range is useful, but what really sets you apart is the control you have on those deliveries. You also need to have a good idea of what sort of ball to bowl to which batter and at what stage of the innings. To judge a batter’s abilities, to know which are his strong and weak points, and to change your tactics against him as needed and to have a plan B, C or D as needed, are the building blocks that make a good and intelligent bowler. This is, where in my view, 4-Day cricket is crucial for my development. The more I play in the red-ball format, the more I will develop my skills and get to control my deliveries and become a thinking and better all-round bowler.
PakPassion.net: What are you plans for the future and your aspirations?
Mohammad Hasnain: I am totally focused on ensuring that I can play as much cricket as I can and to represent Pakistan in all formats. For that to happen, I need to concentrate on my fitness and to learn to bowl better in red and white-ball cricket. If I can do the basics right and learn from my past experiences, I feel that I can become the number one bowler in the world and in doing so, can make a name for myself representing Pakistan.
PakPassion.net: Would you agree that Shaheen Shah Afridi is a role model for young bowlers like yourself?
Mohammad Hasnain: There is no doubt that Shaheen is one of the top bowlers in the world and I really appreciate his skills and look up to him as someone I wish to emulate in terms of what he has achieved for Pakistan. He is playing in all formats and putting in equally good performances without fail. Whether its regular bilateral series or major ICC events, he has put in amazing performances, and this makes him a great role model for our youngsters. A lot of the up and coming fast- bowlers have been inspired by his success and wish to bowl like him. His pace, line and length are immaculate and my advice to anyone wanting to succeed as a bowler in all formats is for them to look up to him. I am in awe of his skills and really appreciate his consistency and how he performs so well at the highest levels of the game.
PakPassion.net: Are you looking forward to representing Pakistan in the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia, if given the opportunity?
Mohammad Hasnain: God Willing, I will aim to put in some good performances in the upcoming few months and try and make a comeback to the Pakistan team. Playing in the T20 World Cup in Australia would be a dream come true, but I know that I will have to work very hard and put in excellent performances before that tournament so that I can be considered for selection.