Pakistan cricket's new find is ambidextrous pace bowler Yasir Jan
Pakistan have had a knack of unearthing special fast bowling talents over the years. These gifted youngsters have always gone on to make a mark in the international arena.
Recently, a talent hunt conducted by the PSL franchise, Lahore Qalandars, has given rise to a real unorthodox talent - Yasir Jan, a 21-year-old quick who can bowl quick with his left hand. Now there is nothing unorthodox in this, but interestingly he bowls even quicker with his right arm.
According to former Pakistan quick bowler, Aaqib Javed, who is now Qalandars' head of cricket operations, the ambidextrous Yasir can bowl at "around 145kmph with his right arm and not less than 135kmph with his left arm".
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Qalandars wasted no time in signing up Yasir on a 10-year developmental contract. The young lad hails from a small town situated 29km from Peshawar. He had moved to Islamabad at the age of 12, and worked in his family's vegetable shop. Cricket had just been a "part-time passion." He then took a break from his work to attend this talent hunt in Rawalpindi and it didn't take long for him to catch Javed’s eye.
"He was bowling with his right arm, but then he came to me and told me, 'I can bowl with left arm too,' which caught my attention," Aaqib said at a press conference at the Lahore Press Club, where he introduced Yasir. "It was a surprise for me, because I have never seen anyone doing that. I have seen cricketers throwing with both arms, and even saw a bowler bowling spin with both arms, but this is someone extraordinary."
This isn't the first time Javed has been at the helm of unearthing special talents. In 2008, he found the 7'1" Mohammad Irfan, then working at a plastic pipe factory. Two years later, Irfan made his debut for Pakistan.
Will take him 1-2 years to develop, says Aaqib Javed
Aaqib was quick to point out that Yasir was pretty raw at present, and that it would take him a year or two to really develop for competitive cricket.
"Fast bowling is almost unnatural because you roll your arms and produce speed with an extreme level of muscle coordination," Aaqib said. "So him bowling with his weak arm with the same intensity and speed was something that is unique; I don't think anyone else in the world I know has done this. Like we had found Mohammad Irfan some time ago, now we have found a bigger talent with such an amazing ability.”
"We just wanted to encourage this talent and develop him, and get him ready for top-level cricket. I have signed a 10-year contract with him as a part of his grooming and taking care of all finances by Lahore Qalandars, so that he doesn't have to worry about his future. I hope he works hard and keeps his focus, and we will be able to give a future star to Pakistan in coming years."
Playing for Pakistan is my dream, says Jan
The youngster is confident about his future, now that he has a strong platform to exhibit his talent, but he hasn’t played any competitive cricket so far.
"It's a great moment for me that I got such a platform," he said at a conference, before signing his contract. "I have been running a vegetable shop and playing cricket in my spare time. I thank Aaqib bhai for his support, and I promise that I will remain focused and work very hard to make everyone proud. Playing for Pakistan is a dream for every kid playing cricket and I also want to see myself at the top in coming years."
Given his potential and rare gift, a debut may come sooner than expected. After all, Pakistan are known to exhibit raw talent at the international stage and making stars out of them. Jan could very well be the next superstar of Pakistan cricket.