Yasir Shah's domestic coach opens up on his journey from 'average' to world class
A never say die attitude and the willingness to learn behind leg-spinner's transformation.
In his maiden Test appearance outside Asia, Yasir Shah overcame the odds and sliced through the England batting lineup. Amidst all the accolades, the leg-spinner’s domestic coach revealed how he transformed himself from an ‘average bowler’ into a dangerous one through sheer persistence.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa coach Abdur Rehman claimed, “Some seven, eight years ago – I first saw him play for Abbottabad region and my first impression of him was that he was an average bowler. Back then, he didn’t use to turn the ball big, he was more inclined towards bowling faster deliveries.”
Making his first-class debut for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the 2001/02 season, Shah was also coached by Rehman during Pakistan 'A' tour of West Indies. However, he had to wait until October 2014 before getting an opportunity to break into Test cricket.
Rehman who manages the Pakistan Super League side Peshawar Zalmi as well, revealed, “I was the head coach on that tour, the pitches there were extremely slow and low and Yasir didn’t find it easy. But, the amazing thing was that he never let his shoulders droop. He was willing to experiment and learn the nuances of leg-spin bowling.”
He felt, “I think the breakthrough for him came when Kaneria exited the scene and Ajmal was called for throwing. Pakistan needed a leg-spinner (then). I would give him a lot of credit for the way he has bowled at the international level. His transformation is absolutely remarkable since he wasn’t an instant success in our domestic scene. But, he took to international cricket like a duck to water.”
The most discernable aspect of Yasir’s bowling lay in his unerring control which has not often been associated with a wrist-spinner. Possessing a sharp intellect, the 30-year old etched his name on record books by scalping the most number of wickets after 13 Tests.
Attributing the success to his mindset, Rehman noted, “His strength is that his body language is incredibly strong. He is a team man and whenever he bowls, he bowls with a lot of vigor and determination. His energy is contagious and he has a very positive outlook towards life.”
Rehman added, “His googly and flipper makes him very potent, these two deliveries are his real strength. He keeps the batsmen guessing with his variations and the speed with which he bowls also makes it tough for batsmen to attack him with a sense of liberty and freedom.”
With the Lords Test shaping up to be a riveting contest, Pakistan would hope that Yasir delivers a similar performance in the second innings too.