August 07, 2020
The 17-year-old has made a big impact as part of an entertaining Pakistan attack that has everything a side could want
Naseem Shah ready to join ranks of great bowlers as junior member | Andy Bull
The first thing you notice about Naseem Shah is his action. It’s smooth and slick and sideways-on, as if the unnatural act of bowling fast were a perfectly instinctive thing, and those strange, awkward contortions of legs and arms, the leap and twist, the tangle of limbs, were all as simple and obvious to him as putting one foot in front of the other. His coach, Waqar Younis, once said it reminded him of watching Dennis Lillee bowl, which is rare praise. And that’s what the fielders were crying out to him in between deliveries, “Lillee Shah! Lillee Shah!” Whip, snap, crack, whoosh, what a thing. Capture him mid-stride, and he’d be a study for Phidias.
Then there’s his smile. Naseem is young, 17, officially, although there was a lot of back-and-forth in the Pakistani press about whether that is accurate after the PCB pulled him out of its Under-19 World Cup team last year. Someone dug up an old Andy Roberts quote from 2016, when he’d said how impressed he had been with a “16-year-old” fast bowler called Naseem who he had spotted on a talent hunt programme. But Naseem’s old coach says his paperwork is all in order, and the PCB says the tests have been done to prove it. He doesn’t look like he has much use for a razor. And he’s young enough, certainly, judging by his childish delight for the game.
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