Mohammad Rizwan: ‘I'm not the Pakistani Jonty Rhodes’

Published September 30, 2015
A fan of the Brazil football team, Rizwan has the ability to conjure up some magic on the field himself. — AFP
A fan of the Brazil football team, Rizwan has the ability to conjure up some magic on the field himself. — AFP

‘Change’ may well be a relative term in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but, for the provincial capital's cricket team, the transformation has been undeniable.

Peshawar Panthers, the back-to-back national T20 champions in 2014 and 2015, may not have a star-studded squad at their disposal but they do have young and energetic starlets in their line-up.

One of these players is Mohammad Rizwan, who, at 23, has already attracted a cult following with his fearless batting and acrobatic fielding.

Dawn caught up with Rizwan for an interview hours before the team’s departure for the Zimbabwe tour.

Q. You look completely at ease in the outfield. Did you always want to be a wicketkeeper?

I was crazy about cricket since I was a kid. I clearly remember that I after arriving from school I used to head straight towards the playground and come back after sunset.

I wanted to be an all-rounder since the start. Along with batting, I worked on my fielding and then became a wicketkeeper too. I used to bowl as well but after becoming a regular keeper, I couldn’t dedicate much time to it.

In a nutshell, I always wanted to be a utility cricketer and tried to be good at all departments of the game.

Q. When did you realise that your ability can take you to the international stage?

Scoring a double century in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Gold League final was the moment my abilities were recognised and that innings helped me make it to the national side.

The selectors, former Pakistan internationals and the media all took notice of the boy from Peshawar.

Q. Pakistani fans have already fallen in love with your live-wire performances in the field. Would you fancy being called the “Pakistani Jonty Rhodes”?

Since I started playing cricket I always wanted to be an inspiration to fellow cricketers and fans. Jonty is a cricketing great, but I’d prefer to have an identity of my own and inspire people myself.

Q. Your valiant effort at the boundary during a match against Sri Lanka stunned everyone. Are good fielders God-gifted?

Like I said earlier, I always want to perform for the team whether its with my batting or fielding. When people started recognising me as a utility player and praised my fielding along with my batting, it felt great as I was experiencing a dream becoming a reality. As far as that piece of fielding against Sri Lanka is concerned, it is nothing new because I put in as much effort in domestic matches.

Q. How keen are you to receive the Pakistan Test cap as the format is regarded as real cricket?

Test cricket is undoubtedly the best form of the game. But getting an opportunity to play for the national ODI and T20 side and securing that spot is not an easy job. So I will try to stay focussed on the two formats I’m selected for right now and cement my place in the team.

Q. You are a proven wicketkeeper on the domestic circuit. Sarfraz Ahmed though has made his position strong in the national side. How do you approach this competition?

Sarfraz is my senior and he has proved his mettle as a wicket keeper in all formats and I wish for his success in the future. Though I possess expertise in both batting an wicketkeeping, I am not in a race against my teammates and will think about this when granted the opportunity.

Q. The Peshawar team has announced itself as a dominant force in the Pakistan domestic cricket scene. What do you think has contributed to this change?

I will give all the credit for Peshawar’s success to coach Abdul Rehman. He has made sure the team selection is on merit. The coach has also injected a winning mentality into the squad. It does not matter if we put up a target or chase, we approach every match positively and aggressively.

Q. The upcoming Pakistan Super League is all over the news these days. How excited are the players about the league?

Pakistan Super League surely is a juicy prospect. Every player wishes to play alongside top cricketers from around the world. Sharing the dressing room with players like Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen is going to be a precious experience which will help us become better players in international cricket too.

Q. Any targets that you have set for yourself?

I am going to try my best to maintain my place in the national side for as long as possible. People already know me for batting and wicket keeping, but I would like to be known as a great fielder too before I decide to hang up my boots.

Q. Inspirations from outside the cricketing world?

I am a huge football fan and I follow the Brazilian team.

Rizwan’s blistering 51* against Abbottabad

Translated from Urdu by Mir Shabbar Ali


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