KARACHI: It was after Shan Masood understood the meaning of life that he stepped up to the next level as a cricketer.
The batter’s unstoppable run of form started soon after he lost his sister, eventually leading to him being called up by Pakistan for next month’s T20 World Cup and the upcoming T20 series against England.
The unfortunate incident helped Shan understand the value of life, helping him enjoy his cricket, rather than ruing time out of the national side.
“I did have thoughts that may be I’ll never be able to play for Pakistan but we don’t need to look much further than what happened with my sister last year,” Shan said during a press conference here at the National Stadium on Saturday.
“That’s when I realised what life is and what is its value. After that I’ve always tried to enjoy playing whatever cricket I get to play and obviously it never gets better than playing for your country.”
Shan last played for Pakistan in January 2021, a Test against New Zealand. After the death of his sister in October that year, he has been piling up runs on all levels.
The 32-year-old, averaged more than 70 in the 2021-22 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and carried his form into the next Pakistan Super League edition, in which he ended up being one of the top scorers.
Shan then plundered bowlers in England in county stints with Derbyshire across the four-day and T20 formats.
In the ongoing National T20 Cup Shan scored two fifties in nine outings for Balochistan before finally making it to the Pakistan squad.
For critics and fans, Shan’s return to the squad could have came earlier, given the form he was in. For them, he was a victim.
For Shan, self-pity is an unknown territory. The Kuwait-born southpaw has it clear in his head, that it may be someone else’s fault for what happened with him, but the responsibility is his own.
The approach has helped him flexible enough to play any role he is asked to play by his team.
“It is not about Shan Masood, it is about Pakistan,” Shan said. “I’ll play wherever I’m asked to play and if I don’t perform well it will be my own responsibility.
“And even the punishments I’ve endured in the past because of not performing well are my own mistakes and until I’m playing all my mistakes will be my own responsibility.”
Shan credited his development as a cricketer during the last 12 months to his time in England and his experience of playing in the PSL.
“It was a very big stepping stone in terms of me making into the T20 side over there,” he said. “The PSL was a big step up, performing on that level gives you a lot of confidence then having played the Vitality Blast over there and getting some runs over there was very important to just put my name out there.
“It is one of the experiences I’ll always regard when it comes to my development as a player.”
Playing day in, day out, Shan said, helped him learn a lot. “That’s how you rectify you mistakes, that’s how you make yourself a better player.”
Shan expressed excitement of playing against England ahead of the T20 World Cup, adding that the quality of the visiting side will give Pakistan ideal preparation ahead of the event, slated to be held in Australia.
“They are one of the best white ball sides in the world and they will pose a very good challenge to Pakistan,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time to be a Pakistani players, it’s probably the ideal preparation to play against the best side in the world before the T20 World Cup.”
MALAN HAPPY TO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO CRICKET REVIVAL
Contributing to the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan was something England batter Dawid Malan could not have imagined back in the early days of the PSL.
The left-hander was one of the few foreign players who agreed to play the 2017 PSL Final in Lahore, along with former West Indies captain Darren Sammy.
“I don’t think at that time anyone of us thought how important it would be for Pakistan cricket,” said Malan.
“It’s a special moment for myself and for others who were there and it is great to see cricket back in Pakistan.”
Malan said England would miss captain Jos Buttler, who is nursing an injury and will sit out for the early part of the seven-match series against Pakistan.
That would mean all-rounder Moeen Ali would take charge as the skipper of a side which features few new faces in the absence of some England T20 mainstays.
“To lose him is not ideal,” Malan said of Buttler. “But it gives an opportunity to other people, gives an opportunity to Moeen.
“Ultimately, it is important to make sure that the players who aren’t quite ready. It gives an opportunity to build towards the World Cup.”
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2022