PakPassion’s latest talent spotter is 18 year-old Rawalpindi-born all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz. Nawaz has represented Pakistan at a number of junior levels and was selected for the Pakistan Under-19 side which played in the Asia Cup and World Cup earlier this year.
PakPassion’s latest talent spotter is 18 year-old Rawalpindi-born all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz. Nawaz has represented Pakistan at a number of junior levels and was selected for the Pakistan Under-19 side which played in the Asia Cup and World Cup earlier this year. Nawaz’s steady progress has also, this season, seen him make the breakthrough into first-class cricket with National Bank.
Full name: Mohammad Nawaz
Born: March 21, 1994, Rawalpindi, Punjab
Current age: 18 years 225 days
Major teams: National Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan Under-15s, Pakistan Under-19s, Rawalpindi Rams
Batting style: Left-hand bat
Bowling style: Slow left-arm orthodox
Getting Into Cricket: Nobody in my family played cricket to a particularly high standard. I would watch cricket on television whenever I got the chance and play in the local streets with my friends, but it wasn’t really structured. Rawalpindi, like most cities in Pakistan, is cricket crazy and games are played on any spare piece of land and I would play cricket whenever and wherever I could.
My cricket became more organised when I started playing for my school team. My school coach told me I had ability and that I should go for the regional Under-15 trials for Rawalpindi at the KRL ground. I took on board my schoolteacher’s advice and attended the trials. Sabih Azhar, who is currently the Under-19 national coach, was overseeing the trials and there were so many boys that I thought I would never get noticed. However as luck would have it, Sabih was impressed with me and I made the squad for the Rawalpindi Under-15s.
Mobilink Under-16s Talent Hunt: Whilst playing for Rawalpindi Under-15s, I became aware of the Mobilink Under-16s talent hunt which was a national project. I attended the trials for the Mobilink talent hunt and was selected which was really pleasing and brought me to the attention of national coaches.
National Cricket Academy Team: After being spotted at the Mobilink trials I was selected for the National Cricket Academy squad which had 34 boys. Whilst playing for the National Cricket Academy team I was selected for the Under-15 World Championship in 2008 which was to be held in the Caribbean. From the National Cricket Academy squad, 15 boys were selected to play for the Pakistan Under-15 team in the West Indies, including myself, which was my first overseas tour.
NCA Colts: After the tour of the Caribbean I continued to play Under-15s and Under-16s regional cricket for Rawalpindi and also for the NCA team. I had a good season at Under-16 level and then an Under-19 National Cricket Academy Colts team was formed to take part in the National Under-19 championship - I was selected for the Colts in 2009/10. A number of us 16 year-olds were selected to take part in a championship that pitted us against boys that were two or three years older than us. It was testing but also helped with our development as cricketers.
Team Role: I see myself as a genuine all rounder. My preferred batting position is at number 6 or 7 and then bowling my quota of left arm spin as team requirements dictate.
Cricketing Heroes: My hero is Saeed Anwar. He was such a special batsman, a lefty like me. He was such a brilliant batsman and so cool and calm at the crease. He’s a fantastic role model for any young cricketer around the world.
Under-19 Asia Cup: The Asia Cup was a great experience and coming home as joint winners was a great achievement. The matches against India were high pressure contests and it was the first time that some of us had experienced such intensity on a cricket field. Playing the matches against India was a wonderful moment for all of the boys from both teams, and of course we all hope one day to get the chance to compete against each other at senior level. I was very pleased with my own performance in the Asia Cup and feel that I played to my potential in that tournament.
Under-19 World Cup: We went to Australia with high hopes. The preparations went well, although at first we found the conditions quite tough. We played a three-match series against the hosts Australia in order to acclimatise and won that series 2-1, so going into the World Cup we were full of confidence. We won our three group matches and things were going well but then against India our batting did not perform, although admittedly we had played some poor shots. Despite the low score, we nearly managed to salvage the match and it was only a last wicket stand that took the match away from us. It was a very tense game and one where it was hard to stomach defeat. It was an enjoyable match and one that I’m sure all of the 22 boys learnt a lot from.
At the Under-19 World Cup I was satisfied with my own performance but the aim was for Pakistan to win the tournament, which we were disappointed not to achieve.
The Rawalpindi Production Line: I’m very proud of my Rawalpindi roots and of course Rawalpindi has produced a lot of excellent cricketers including Shoaib Akhar, Azhar Mahmood, Mohammad Wasim, Yasir Arafat and many others. Also there are many other excellent young cricketers coming through from Rawalpindi, several of whom are currently playing in the Rawalpindi Under-19 team. The talent from Rawalpindi just keeps coming through and long may it continue.
First Class Cricket: The National Bank deal came about when I was playing in the Under-19 Championship. National Bank were looking to strengthen their Under-19 team and Sabih Azhar recommended me to the National Bank coaches and they signed me up. This season I’ve been promoted to the National Bank senior team and have made 2 appearances for them.
However I’ve not performed to my ability in the 2 matches that I’ve played so far but it’s early days and I know I can do better when further chances arrive. The jump from Under-19 cricket to first class cricket is huge and in every match you are coming up against vastly experienced and talented cricketers, many of whom have represented Pakistan.
I’m fortunate to have the likes of Nasir Jamshed, Fawad Alam, Qaiser Abbass and Kamran Akmal around me to help me with my cricket and to guide me in my debut season in first class cricket.
Areas of Improvement: I’m really focusing on my bowling at the moment and looking to make some rapid strides in this area. A lot of time and effort is being made on working on my bowling particularly the line that I bowl and my arm ball, although of course my batting isn’t being neglected. Another area I’m working on is my overall game in the four day version as a lot of cricket I have played has been in the shorter formats.
Immediate Plans: I want to establish myself in the National Bank team and be a consistent performer not just a cricketer who performs once in a while. I really believe that consistency is the key as that’s the difference between a good player and a great player. There’s no point in performing every now and then, look to perform when your team needs it most and on a regular basis.
Future Plans: I’ve been lucky enough to play for Pakistan at various junior levels. The natural progression is to play at the senior level but I know that will not come easy as there is so much competition for places. My goal is to work hard in improving my game and to perform well for National Bank in domestic cricket and to play for Pakistan within three years.