01 August, 2014 / Shawwal 4, 1435
“This season I’ve worked extra hard, and I want to tell my fans that all my effort is going into making them see a different, a new Anwar Ali from now on.” -Photo by White Star
“This season I’ve worked extra hard, and I want to tell my fans that all my effort is going into making them see a different, a new Anwar Ali from now on.” -Photo by White Star

It was a typically hot day in Karachi in 2006. Pakistan’s fielders were made to sweat as Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni smashed the ball all around the National Stadium, giving India an easy eight-wicket win and wrapping up the series 4-1.

Pakistan cricket’s many critics poured out of the stadium in dismay, talking about how India had finally tipped the balance of power, how Mohammad Sami and Rao Iftikhar were a lesson in mediocrity as Pakistan’s fast bowling legacy slowly approached death. The future looked grim.

However, once the stands were empty and the crowds outside, a calming whisper silenced Pakistan’s moaning fans. Suddenly, the words “9 for 6” were on everyone’s lips and Anwar Ali, unknown only seconds earlier, was ‘trending’ around the National Stadium.

In a matter of moments, Pakistan fans were transported to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and, as an audaciously nippy Anwar destroyed India’s batting line-up, the future looked bright, the legacy would continue. For this truly was the battle of the future, India v Pakistan for the U19 World Cup title.

“We didn’t really know the players then, but now they’ve become world famous, (Cheteshwar) Pujara, (Rohit) Sharma, (Ravindra) Jadeja, were all against us,” Anwar said, speaking to Dawn.com.

“It was the best moment of my career.”

Anwar was named man of the match for his 5-35 and Pakistan won the tournament in a stunning come-from-behind win.

Although his father never really appreciated him giving time to the game, Anwar played “a lot” of cricket at the school level, then club level, where he turned up with several other players, now on the fringes of the national team, for the Pakistan Cricket Club. It was after playing zonal cricket for Karachi, though, that he was spotted and brought into the U19 camp. He “gained success at every level” and is a product of the system put in place, coming through the ranks from his native Karachi.

“As a child, I always looked at Imran Khan,” but in more recent times, “I’ve been inspired by Brett Lee, Shoaib Akhtar, and Umar Gul. Fast bowling was a hobby for me. And Imran and Umar also bowled inswing in the beginning of their careers, I looked at them and was successful at junior levels.”

In 2006, when the video of his wickets went viral on YouTube, the natural talent was there for all to see. Anwar himself said that through his younger years a lack of coaching benefitted his action: “My natural swing is inswing. When I began cricket no one told me how, but when I would throw the ball it would naturally come in. I then had to work on the ideal length to bowl inswing, that is what I worked on in the nets.”

However naturally talented the teenager appeared then, he ultimately failed to make the quick step-up to international cricket that was expected. Now at the age of 25, he’s had his big moments, like a match winning 8-16 in the fourth innings against State Bank in 2011, but is known as a consistent first-class cricketer who has often been picked for Pakistan tours but deemed not good enough to make the final cut. This has not affected his attitude though, and his ultimate goal is to don the whites for Pakistan.

“It’s every player's dream to become a Test cricketer, and mine too. Of course, I love T20 with big crowds, sixes, fours, quick wickets, it’s where I made my first appearance for Pakistan. But my favourite format remains Test cricket.”

Anwar is keen to learn from his more experienced teammates and live up to the hype that surrounded his earlier career. But he has also realised that he can no longer be a one-trick pony. Hence, the extra hours in the nets that are dedicated to batting and with a first-class average of 19.66, perhaps the young man can fill the role of a genuine allrounder that Pakistan is so dearly missing.

“It brings me happiness to share the ball with Aizaz (Cheema) and Shoaib Malik while playing for PIA, they’ve had great runs in the Pakistan team and it’s very helpful to learn from them. As for my own ambitions, this season I’ve worked extra hard, and I want to tell my fans that all my effort is going into making them see a different, a new Anwar Ali from now on.”

Anwar, who played for runners up PIA in the recently concluded Ramazan T20 Cup, also believes he and many others like him have suffered due to a stoppage of international cricket in Pakistan since 2009.

“It’s important that PCB brings international cricket back to Pakistan. That will attract crowds, rebuild interest, and give a boost to the entire domestic circuit. Having our own PCB-run league that could attract international players would help us a lot, we’d get to share dressing rooms with the world’s stars and our domestic cricketers can learn a lot.”

Anwar may never be the legend some expected him to be because, at 25, his best moment wasn’t still expected to be the memory from the U19s. For the selectors, it certainly begs the question why they would keep selecting a ‘talented’ player for tours but not pick him in the playing XI.

For now, Anwar’s focus is clear though, and the kind of work that he is putting in with both bat and ball, perhaps, a repeat of Colombo 2006, may just be around the corner.

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Comments (30) (Closed)


sana
Aug 05, 2013 12:33pm

bring him in plssssssss

Suhail Kamran
Aug 05, 2013 01:57pm

I always wondered what happened to the guy who massively swung the ball in that match. Hopefully he can make it to the team, he just looked like an amazing talent

Tk
Aug 05, 2013 02:02pm

Well unfortunately he hasnt got his uncle in cricket board, have to wait mate.

Karachiite
Aug 05, 2013 02:35pm

an obvious discrimination against Karachi and Karachiites!

Its show if you discriminate Karachi, it'll be a loss for the country!

sali
Aug 05, 2013 03:03pm

Its amazing that he has yet to get a chance in the playing 11. We have seen Wahab erratic Riaz and Asad slow Ali playing as all rounders but he is no where close to the team.

Haider
Aug 05, 2013 03:24pm

@sana: Who should be out of the bowling line?

ishrat husain MDFACS
Aug 05, 2013 04:09pm

he is an excellent inn swinger, he needs to be given a chance,he is 10 times betteer than sohail tanver and asad ali.but the problem is that he probabley does not have a safarish.

maq fida
Aug 05, 2013 04:28pm

So much talent is going waste in pakistan thanks to the internal law and order problem and politics!! Anwar ali is already 25+ yrs while the people he played against in the Indian team are now regulars and might all feature in the WC2015 in Aus/NZ... Fast bowlers have shorter shelf life and he must be brought into the team as soon as possible before the next world cup!

Anees
Aug 05, 2013 05:26pm

@Haider : Drop Sohail Tanvir. Drop Asad Ali. FORGET Tanvir Ahmad.

Hyder
Aug 05, 2013 07:13pm

Sir,

It was reported in all the newspapers that Anwar Ali fell prey to excessive coaching and lost his ability to swing the ball as he used to during his under 19 world cup campaign.

Any how what more can we say about Pakistan cricket board than the reality that cricketers belonging to Lahore and adjoining areas get priority for selection in the teams.

Regards,

Hyder

Dawar Naqvi
Aug 05, 2013 07:18pm

Shame for PCB, hero of Under 19 , 2006 tournament, still not in Pakistan Team. 7 years passed. Fast bowlers always have a short live. can PCB brings back 7 years of this talented cricketer. Another Karachi Base Victim. Join the list of Fawad Alam, Shahzeb Hasan, Khurrum Manzoor and Khalid Latif

Oz
Aug 05, 2013 07:22pm

@Karachiite: Why so many dislikes for this post, I am originally from Peshawar and even I know that the Lahore karachi politics is ruining the game. I agree with all here that its pure incompetence of the PCB management that such exceptional talent is going to waste. M.Irfan is good but how long has he got ? May be these two should pair together. I rate him higher than Junaid, people really need to see his bowling.

Pak Cric Fan
Aug 05, 2013 07:57pm

If he is so talented then Why was Asad Ali picked over Anwar Ali for the tour of West Indies?

Rashid Sultan
Aug 05, 2013 09:11pm

Dream on. The team already has an excellent line up of pace (cutters & swing) and spin. It is the batting & fielding that is weak. Swap him for Kohli or Jadeja.

Sohraab
Aug 05, 2013 11:35pm

@Karachiite: Couldn't agree more!

Saeed
Aug 06, 2013 06:28am

@Karachiite: Most of time selectors are from karachi. So your argument don't justify And majority of crickter are from very humble back ground . I still think Selection is on merit but unfortunately this is our best breed.

parmoon shuja
Aug 06, 2013 06:57am

InshAllah. Provided Anwar Ali would not be corrupted like others.

Ayaz
Aug 06, 2013 07:04am

If he wants to play for Pakistan, he needs to make an immediate improvement in his portfolio. He needs to move to Lahore.

Mike
Aug 06, 2013 08:35am

Didn't you guys see a new "YOUNG" Bowler in the Pakistani Team His name is "Uncle Babar" He is atleast 48 years "young" and of'course from PUNJAB!

khalid
Aug 06, 2013 09:36am

When we ignore such a talented player, lot of talent is wasted in pakistan because of Safari System, Why Board is afraid to try new players in upcoming series. Put all old player in Test team

Manan
Aug 06, 2013 12:07pm

Thanks to the author for highlighting Anwar Ali’s case. Anwar Ali had excited my attention around 2010 with his fabulous spell of fast in-out swingers in oft-repeated cracker against India in Colombo in which he had dismissed the likes of Rohit Sharma, Jadeja and few others, now making headlines in the international cricket. I believe he was an absolutely gifted fast bowler holding all the ingredients of fast bowling--pace, swing both ways, and most valuably the accompanied aggression, a prerequisite for fast bowling. He should have been given an immediate call to the national team as he indubitably deserved. But, alas! This incredible talented got wasted for well over 6 years despite being part of the 14 member squads for several times. He has been undone, and brazenly victimized by the undoing of the responsibles. As I understand cricket, Anwar Ali is far more, far more talented and skilled than the mediocres like Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Riaz (inconsistent, sloppy, and messy) Asad Ali (lackluster) Adil, etc, hard to recall their names even for their mediocrity and failure to have featured any single memorable show. Its indeed upsetting to see a player like him getting sidelined, and thrown to the back burner, and one wonders how and why it never pricked the conscience of the selectors, captains and all high-ups responsible for choosing and perishing players to give Anwar a GO. He has been treated unjustly and inequitably so far, but still it is never late for a gem like Anwar. He can still make a thunderous start and sustain for a decade, therefore, one may plead to selectors and the captains to stop the monkey business to this bright chap, give him his due berth in the team, and let the Pakistani fans enjoy and the Pakistani team exploit his services. Regardless of wherever he comes from, he is mighty talented and skilled, and must be duly compensated for whatever he has suffered at the hands of selectors and captains so far. If Irfan can make comebacks at 30-31s, one can strongly advocate for Anwar Ali at the age of 25. He has got enough cricket left in him provided that the selectors and the captains stop doing the way they have been doing over the last 5 years. Anwar, you deserve slot, you must be given fair opportunity. Never give up, the best of luck!

Nomi
Aug 06, 2013 01:42pm

He should have father in law in PCB

Manan
Aug 06, 2013 03:09pm

Thanks to the author for highlighting Anwar Ali’s case. Anwar Ali had excited my attention around 2010 with his fabulous spell of fast in-out swingers in oft-repeated cracker against India in Colombo in which he had dismissed the likes of Rohit Sharma, Jadeja and few others, now making headlines in the international cricket. I believe he was an absolutely gifted fast bowler holding all the ingredients of fast bowling--pace, swing both ways, and most valuably the accompanied aggression, a prerequisite for fast bowling. He should have been given an immediate call to the national team as he indubitably deserved. But, alas! This incredible talented got wasted for well over 6 years despite being part of the 14 member squads for several times. He has been undone, and brazenly victimized by the undoing of the responsibles. As I understand cricket, Anwar Ali is far more, far more talented and skilled than the mediocres like Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Riaz (inconsistent, sloppy, and messy) Asad Ali (lackluster) Adil, etc, hard to recall their names even for their mediocrity and failure to have featured any single memorable show.

Manan
Aug 06, 2013 03:10pm

Its indeed upsetting to see a player like him getting sidelined, and thrown to the back burner, and one wonders how and why it never pricked the conscience of the selectors, captains and all high-ups responsible for choosing and perishing players to give Anwar a GO. He has been treated unjustly and inequitably so far, but still it is never late for a gem like Anwar. He can still make a thunderous start and sustain for a decade, therefore, one may plead to selectors and the captains to stop the monkey business to this bright chap, give him his due berth in the team, and let the Pakistani fans enjoy and the Pakistani team exploit his services. Regardless of wherever he comes from, he is mighty talented and skilled, and must be duly compensated for whatever he has suffered at the hands of selectors and captains so far. If Irfan can make comebacks at 30-31s, one can strongly advocate for Anwar Ali at the age of 25. He has got enough cricket left in him provided that the selectors and the captains stop doing the way they have been doing over the last 5 years. Anwar, you deserve slot, you must be given fair opportunity. Never give up, the best of luck!

zain
Aug 06, 2013 07:46pm

Pakistan cricket Captain should give the chance the and opportunity to new young player that they can glow the country with their strong and powerful spirits........?

shoby
Aug 06, 2013 08:23pm

@Dawar Naqvi: khrum manzoor never performed on any descent wicket, he failed when chances were given in past. shazeb was big failure as well, they are only club level players

Rashid
Aug 06, 2013 08:30pm

Someone in the pcb must have read this haan? hehe Anwar Ali has been included in the ODI and T20 squads for the tour of Zimbabwe!! Bravo

Syed
Aug 07, 2013 12:31am

@Mike: Slight correction.......he is 35.........and he is a Pakistani

indianmafia
Aug 07, 2013 12:09pm

please find a descent batsman...pakistan batsmans are not even competent to play against club level bolwers!!! lol

aj
Aug 07, 2013 02:57pm

@Ayaz: Spot on that's how Saeed Anwar got selected