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A profile of emerging Bajaur Agency born fast-bowler who considers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc as his role models and was picked by Peshawar Zalmi for PSL7 on account of his ability to bowl at considerable pace.

By Amir Husain (31st December, 2021)

Full Name: Siraj uddin

Date of Birth: 02 Jan 2002, Umaray - Tehsil Mamund, Bajaur Agency

Major teams: Bajaur Agency Under-19s, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cricket Association, Peshawar Zalmi

Batting style: Right handed

Bowling style: Right Arm Medium Fast

Height: 5ft 11in

Interest in Cricket

I started off with cricket in my village in Bajaur Agency by playing tape-ball cricket and always used to like bowling fast. Life wasn’t that easy for me because my father, in order to try and improve our financial circumstances, left for Europe leaving my mother and my 3 siblings behind. My mother used to stitch clothes to sustain us and of course she did not want me wasting my time playing sports, instead she wanted me to study hard and find a job to support the family. Eventually my love for the game won her over but it was a tough existence for us due to many financial pressures. All through these traumatic times, I kept doing well in my studies and was one of the top ranked students at the Matriculation level from my local school. As a result of this I was given admission in the prestigious Islamia College in Peshawar where I completed F.Sc level education. Unfortunately, my mother passed away around that time due to Cancer and I had no option but to put my education on hold. Whilst both my parents have now passed away, the sacrifices they made to make sure that I made something of my life is what will remain in my memory forever.

Starting hard-ball cricket in 2016 in my uncle’s academy

My uncle was instrumental in my moving from tape-ball cricket to the hard-ball version as he got me into trials for the Mamund United Cricket Club where I first got a taste of hard-ball cricket and also an idea of what proper cricket was all about.

Experience of Under 19 cricket is a major factor in my development

I was lucky to have a chance to get my first chance to play regional Under-19 cricket for Bajaur Agency Under-19s starting from the 2017-18 season. I had many personal issues to deal including critical illness of both my parents and a part-time job as a petrol pump attendant to support my younger siblings – all of which effected my performances and the number of games I could play. My best performances came in the 2019/20 season where in the Regional Inter District U-19 One Day Tournament I took 9 wickets in 4 games. I also played one 3-Day game in the Cricket Associations Championship 2021/22 for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but this was because I had to spend time at the Biomechanics Lab at LUMS for investigations into my bowling action and by the time this process came to an end, there was just one game left for this tournament.

Clearing any doubts about my bowling action

Ever since I started to play cricket, I had been listening to doubts being expressed about my bowling action which to the naked eye did seem suspect and it appeared that there was a jerk which made it illegal to observers. This was formally noticed by a coach and former Pakistan bowler Mohsin Kamal in a camp in 2019 that the PCB organized at the NCA for fast-bowlers from Remote Areas who bowled between the 135 and 140Kph mark. He saw my action whilst I was bowling in the camp and asked if I had a jerk in my action, but I told him that I had hyper-extension in my elbow area and at that time no further action was taken. Later on in 2021, whilst appearing for a camp for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cricket Associations, our coach Abdur Rehman also felt that my action had issues and he made a detailed video of this and sent it to the ICC accredited Biomechanics Lab at LUMS in Lahore for their analysis. I was then asked to come for testing at the laboratory where they attached sensors at different parts of my arm and body and formally confirmed in a report that, as per ICC requirements, “The Player’s Elbow Extension for their good length deliveries bowled over the wicket did not exceed 15 degrees as defined in the Illegal Bowling Regulations.”

Fastest bowling speed of 90.5mph

Ahead of the PSL 7 draft, I took part in trials for different franchises and whilst I eventually got picked by Peshawar Zalmi for the upcoming season, I was clocked at 90.5mph by the Lahore Qalandars speed-gun.

A left-arm role model for a right-arm bowler

One cricketer who I have admired from the day I started to play proper cricket is Mitchell Starc. One can say that this is a strange choice given the fact that he is a left-arm fast-bowler and I am exact opposite but I really love the way Starc bowls with aggression against some of the top batters in the world and takes their wickets with so much ease. In terms of right-arm bowlers, Pat Cummins and Umar Gul are my favourites. I haven’t met Gul Bhai yet but God Willing will meet him one day and seek his advice about bowling as well.

A dream come true with selection for Peshawar Zalmi for PSL 7

To be honest I wasn’t too optimistic when this season started about how far I will progress and that was partially due to the time I spent at the biomechanics laboratory. But I was fortunate that one of the trainers with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa squad who had seen me bowl recommended me for trials with Peshawar Zalmi and asked me to send my videos to them. Once I went for trials, Mohammad Akram at Zalmi liked what he saw of my bowling and former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif also felt that an express quick bowler like me would fit in their plans. When the PSL 7 draft took place and my name was announced on TV in the Emerging Category, I was overjoyed and could not stop screaming for a good few minutes. It was an incredible feeling as I hadn’t slept well for a few nights, thinking about the possibility of being picked by a franchise especially when I looked back at the hard times I had to go through to get to this stage. But I am very happy now. Having to play in the PSL means a lot to me and I am really looking forward to it.

The aim is to represent Pakistan in all formats

Being part of a PSL squad is obviously a great honour but what I really wish to do is to represent Pakistan in all formats and am willing to work hard to achieve this goal.