Thursday, June 24, 2021

Cricket Scotland: Stint playing in Pakistan sets Hamza up for big 2021

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To date Hamza Tahir’s career within the full Scotland squad has been bookended by Pakistan.

In June 2018 the left arm spinner made his first appearance for the national team in a T20I against Pakistan at The Grange in Edinburgh.

And, moving forward nearly three years, he recently returned from an invaluable spell playing club cricket in Pakistan.

“It was a great opportunity to get out to Multan in Pakistan earlier this year and play some club cricket and I realise how lucky I was to get that chance,” the 25-year-old from Paisley said about his recent trip.

“With the various lockdowns and restrictions that have been in place not many of the Scotland boys have been able to play too much competitive cricket over the last year or so, so I just tried to grab the opportunity given to me with both hands and it was good to play some matches which were of a good standard.

“It was very hot out there, but I enjoyed the challenge of bowling on different types of wickets and bowling against different types of batters while everyone in Pakistan made it easy for me to settle in.

“Getting that exposure to matches certainly helped me when we came back into training with the Scotland squad in April and now I am looking forward to international cricket resuming like the rest of the lads.”

When the first lockdown in the UK was implemented 14 months ago you could have forgiven Hamza for feeling frustrated.

After all, at that stage Scotland were set to welcome Australia and New Zealand to these shores a few months later and the left arm spinner was looking forward to testing himself against the world’s best white ball batters after a very good 2019 for him personally.

Everyone was disappointed when those games fell by the wayside, but a bit of a break in 2020 allowed Hamza to reflect on his 13 ODI and 18 T20I wickets from six and 11 games respectively to date.

“It was a massive surprise to me when I was picked for the Pakistan T20 game in 2018 [to make his debut] because a few days earlier I had just watched the guys beat England in an ODI and I didn’t think there would be many changes to the team,” he recounts.

“To suddenly be playing against Pakistan players who I had watched on TV before was a bit of a shock, but being involved in the game was a confidence boost for me personally.

“It also showed me the things I needed to really work on and I did that over the rest of 2018 and 2019 went well for me.

“When things came to a halt last March it was frustrating from a cricket point of view, but there are far more important things in life than cricket and a lot of people have been going through some bad times.

“So, with a bit of a break I just tried to take a step back and thought about what I have achieved so far and what I want to do in the game going forward.

“I also worked hard on my fitness and as we edge nearer to Scotland fixtures again I am feeling in good shape.”

Scotland’s next few months is likely to be centred around 50-over cricket before Shane Burger’s men focus in on the T20 format and the T20 World Cup which is due to be in India later this year.

And as batters continue to hit the ball further and further in this format, how does a bowler like Hamza deal with it?

“You have to trust your own bowling action and your own game, as simple as that,” the Ferguslie CC talent said.

“The way that T20 cricket is constantly moving with batters looking to score all over the ground, there will be times as a bowler where you think you have bowled a good ball and it sails into the stands.

“That is just the way things go, it is how you react to that which is important and your focus must be on the next ball, you can’t dwell on things at all.

“I like that challenge.”

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