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Diary of a first-class cricketer: The charm of Ramazan cricket

Published Jul 31, 2012 05:18pm


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Shan Masood is a first-class cricketer from Karachi. He is currently enrolled at the Loughborough University in Leicestershire, UK. A left-handed opening batsman, Shan ranks among the emerging players of Pakistan.  He has represented Pakistan at the Under-15 and Under-19 level and most recently, he has been a part of Pakistan’s ‘A’ team. On the domestic circuit, Shan has represented HBL for three successive seasons, bringing him under the radar of the national selectors. Here, he shares with’s readers the ups and downs of being a professional, first-class cricketer in Pakistan.

The buzz in Pakistan’s cricketing circles is all about the Ramazan Twenty20 tournaments.

This has been my first crack at Ramazan cricket as I have been busy with the Pakistan ‘A’ team or Under-19s previously. When I’m not playing a Ramazan tournament, I start the day with a visit to the ground late afternoon and a gym session full of cardio workout, followed by a swim and then of course, batting practice. I return with just enough time to shower and eat Iftar.

The month of Ramazan is seen as a challenging time by everyone, especially athletes. For Pakistan’s cricketers, however, it is one of the most exciting times of the year. This is the time when most cricketers from all around Pakistan assemble in Karachi to earn an income that is four to five times greater than their monthly salaries, especially for those who are  unable to play county cricket in England.

We are eager to participate in these tournaments not just for the money but also for the recognition we may be able to garner by doing well in these matches. This is the time when we are close to the domestic season and many teams are looking to sign new players. There is no better opportunity for giving your best performance and keeping your fingers crossed for getting noticed on television. For those cricketers who get limited first-class opportunities, this is a chance to prove that they can mix their skills and compete with the renowned names of the domestic circuit.

A typical Ramazan cricket day involves playing two matches, on either side of Iftar while fasting. We tend to take the post-Iftar matches lightly and underestimate them while they are actually the tougher ones because it is usually the time we are low on energy. We still have to give it our best shot, not least because the importance of Ramazan cricket has peaked with television coverage of these tournaments.

In Ramazan, my day starts with a meaty sehri, comprising eggs, parathas, halwa puri and a refreshing glass of lassi. I am then off to sleep until, at least noon if the match is scheduled for 2.00pm. Come Iftar time, the consumption is much lighter as compared to Sehri and I mainly try to have an intake of water, RoohAfza, Tang, lemonade or anything that is ice-cold.

Some cricketers visiting from other parts of the country spend the entire day in their hotel rooms, watching television while others head out to explore the city and kill their time. Most players are based at hotels in and around Saddar. This gives the players an opportunity to make the best of the extensive dining options available. Then, of course, is the Atrium cinema. Most of my trips to Atrium are made with my friends and teammates who are visiting the city during Ramazan.

I have always treated Ramazan as a bonus for my off-season training. This is when I manage to surpass most cricketers in terms of preparation for the upcoming season as most of us only play matches during this month. This will be the first time I will combine playing matches and having practice on non-match days. I treat this as an ideal opportunity to prove my mettle and show that I can play all three formats of the game, having just returned from a successful training camp for emerging players.

I have started off the holy month with a joint man-of-the-match performance at the Karachi Gymkhana tournament, scoring an unbeaten 47 while chasing 100.

At the Moin Khan Twenty20 tournament, my team HBL have done well but with some frontline bowlers missing, we haven’t been able to bowl well. We will hopefully have our key players back for the rest of tournament and push for a place in the semis. HBL have signed up two exciting middle-order batsman in Usman Salahuddin and Rameez Aziz and I think the induction of fresh blood will make things exciting for us, as well as the crowds.

Ramazan cricket has been a long-standing tradition in Pakistan. Even today, players like Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan make appearances in tape-ball tournaments and T20 night cricket. I know a lot of players from the national team are banking on these matches to gain some practice before the WorldT20 and the tour of Australia. I hope we can make this another exciting season of night cricket.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Comments (45) Closed

Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 02:00pm
To all the readers of the blog, i am not saying this because I am a cricketer myself but having seen everyone and the effort that they put in, in this holy month, we should appreciate how cricket players balance their religious duties with cricket. I can assure you that all the religious obligations are put first and that cricket practice, training and matches play as a support cast to it. We should all look at ourselves before judging others as God will only ask me what I did and not what others did.
AJZ Jul 31, 2012 02:27pm
Play, eat, watch tv and cinema, kill time. What a way to endure the holy month of Ramazan.
Saad Jul 31, 2012 03:13pm
What a way to waste the precious month of Ramadhan.... mashaAllah...
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 11:10am
Thank you saj
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 11:07am
Well said, thank you
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 11:07am
Thank you, I feel flattered to being compared to a legend like Saeed Anwar. But inshallah I want Shan Masood to be a household name and for people to tell other young cricketers and children to be like Shan Masood. Thank you for your comment and support :)
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 11:05am
Thank you very much sir, your support and prayers will surely be a source of extra motivation for me and other cricketers. Your advice will be taken on board and inshallah I will do my best and make sure that my performances on the field will bring lots of smiles and happiness to the lovely people of Pakistan.
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 11:02am
Hi saad, well in the case of Muslim footballers there have been a few events in the past where footballers like Maroune Chamakh (Arsenal) and Sulley Muntari (when at Inter Milan) were rested a lot during Ramadan cause they couldn't give it a 100 percent. But it's always nice to hear that those players were still fasting even after being in places where they were a minority and hence it is in the back of our heads. Hope that answers your question, thank you very much for your comment and support
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 10:57am
Thank you sir, I don't mind criticism at all it's part and parcel of the whole game, but yes like you said I will certainly ignore false claims. Thank you again for you support.
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 10:54am
Thank you very much for your comments, I will put everything into it to become a world class cricketer, your and everyone else's prayers will take me a long way.
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 10:52am
Thank you
Fahad Aug 01, 2012 10:48am
I am also a cricket lover and player myself, no offence to Shan routine but what involved me was the title "The charm of Ramazan cricket" For sure Ramazan Kareem is all about saving your energy max for Namaz, Taraveeh, Reciting & Understanding Quran + working hard to earn Rizq-e-Halal. If cricket is somebody's work and he is earning from it then it comes under last category and is allowed but if this gives rise to a favorite pass time or fever in Ramazan which it is then I am sorry. I used to play a lot of cricket in Ramazan in my teenage and nobody stopped me as in Pakistan it's common practice and we give religion the last priority, believe me there is no energy left for doing anything else after practicing even 3-4 hours of quality hard ball cricket in ground except sleeping and Iftaar. Ramazan is not about cricket really.
saythetruth Aug 01, 2012 01:12pm
Month of Ramadan is month of Ibadah there is a time and place for sport and last I checkded Islamic Calenda month of Ramadan is marked with 3 stages of Ibadah and repentance, also I see Liala -tul Qadir and towards the end I also see a event called Eid Fitr I don't see any tape-ball tournaments and T20 night cricket lol What a shame you never know if Allah will blessed you again with another Ramadan and are simply wasting it away with Cricket. For those who care Ramadan brings with it the plenty of rewards. The actions we do in daily life earn more reward in Ramadan. So, in the whole month of Ramadan, we can earn the rewards equal to the 11 months. The greed of earning reward makes our soul pour and our conscience having a firm grip over our nafs. This will be the reward we will need the most in the Day of Judgment. So, we all should strive to seek pleasure of ALLAH swt and to earn more and more rewards for our hereafter.
Malik Aug 01, 2012 10:26am
You are a waste of everything good such as food, electricity, water, schooling. Your kind have learnt how to offend working people with their infinite ignorance and intolerance. Shame on you Sir.
Malik Aug 01, 2012 10:23am
You must be an Oracle through which God Almighty is talking his creation.
RetiredHurt Aug 02, 2012 10:15am
Jahanzeb Lodhi, left arm spinner..we lost in the semis of zonal under 15 :P
U M Jul 31, 2012 11:14am
Thanks for sharing this. You're an inspiration ! masha Allah ! Keep up the good work ! Prayers for You !
Malik - Aus Aug 01, 2012 11:38am
this reminds me of my good days in Karachi cricket, its a great cricketing environment in Karachi during Ramadan i used to be busy playing tape ball night tournaments and when not playing go and watch matches ground to ground one of the match was where Inzemam scored around 90 it was in early 90's, match was played on N block N. Nazimabad ground, it was treat to watch him play.... and matches at annu bhai ground Nazimabad... i wish best of luck to Usman Masood and wish him every luck, hope to see u in national team soon boy.... keep it up, be bold like umar akmal but need more mental strength than him and you will touch skies.......
shan masood Jul 31, 2012 05:34pm
to U M; you're welcome and it is very heart warming to read comments such as yours, thank you very much, remember me in your prayers. to ajz; nobody looks to kill time, this is all part and parcel of ramadan. Obviously religious commitments come first and all the cricketers prove that by fasting even while playing in such extreme temperatures. One should not be judged on religious grounds. And fyi those coming from other parts of Pakistan are allowed by Islamic Law to fast at a later date as they are in safr but they still do that.
shan masood Jul 31, 2012 05:36pm
to ajz; and i apologise for my words "kill time"
FZK Jul 31, 2012 05:53pm
Well said!
naveed Jul 31, 2012 05:54pm
Playing is not bad in ramadan.
Syed Ahmed Jamal Jul 31, 2012 06:26pm
Hi Shaan: PLease focus on becoming the next Saeed Anwar! You can be the best. Syed Jamal
Haidery Jul 31, 2012 06:41pm
Yeah right AJZ - should be scream, fight with your fellow drivers, neighbours, be intolerant of others, their lifestyle, poke your nose where it doesn't belong, gossip and quietly wishing to be able to do what a professional sportsman would do...right???...I feel sorry for you. Thanks for sharing Shaan.. young fellows like you are our future...keep it up buddy and go on make name for yourself and make all of us Proud to be Pakistanis.. Prayers with you.
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 02:08pm
Thank you so much, even though I pride myself on my memory please forgive me as I can't remember this Vimto incident. But if you can tell me who you are, I will get a crate of Vimto delivered to your place :)
Hamza Jul 31, 2012 08:11pm
Thank you very much for sharing Shaan. We need people like you in our national team, who have a vision and can take our country to the next level. Wish you all the best for the future. Inshallah you will make us all proud !
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 02:06pm
Your opinions are always welcomed Fahad, but we always try and put religious duties first especially in Ramadan. Ramadan is not always about cricket and that is why we balance our source of earning bread and butter with religion.
Shan Masood Aug 01, 2012 02:03pm
Thank you very much, your comments and prayers are ever so motivating
Protester Jul 31, 2012 09:06pm
Yes. The right way would be to kill, torture, accuse others as non-muslims, burn homes and bomb places of worship. Oh, did I mention spending all time 'observing' with others are doing versus analysing what we should do.
Imran A. Jul 31, 2012 11:46pm
Cheap shot at a player. Not all of us are blessed with easy office jobs.
KGB Aug 01, 2012 01:12am
so what you want people to do?? bury their heads in sand??
saj Aug 01, 2012 03:40am
how is it a waste ? this lad excels at what he does he works harder then most of us to achieve the standards he has achieved earning a honest living is a form of ibadaat this is his roti rozi who are you to judge him ? what right do you have ? just cos you sit on a prayer mat a bit longer then some of us does not make you a better person then the rest of us
Gasherbrummistani Aug 01, 2012 08:13am
Always interesting to hear about the work that young athletes put in who are trying to break through to the top. Wish you all the best and hope you continue to work hard in an attempt to stand out. First class cricket can often be very hard and relentlessly tiring, so keep enjoying your cricket and stay positive throughout, Inshallah your time will come. And please ignore the glad tidings being thrown around here in the month of Ramadan by a couple of people who obviously are utilizing every second available to them. Sitting in front of a computer and reading a blog on can certainly be classified as an efficient use of their time. We tend to be a cynical lot, hoping your performances in the future can bring a bit of cheer to the nation. All the best!
Saad ali Aug 01, 2012 09:03am
Hey Shaan. Nice article. Can't wait to see you at international level, heard good things about you. Just wanted to ask if you've taken inspiration from the many Muslim footballers who fast during Ramadan interms of your eating habits?
ali Aug 01, 2012 09:04am
buhut aala bhai, buhut aala . . .
Huma Aug 01, 2012 09:18am
great post! dawn/the author should send it to cricinfo.... a glimpse into a whole new world of cricket! :)
Anwar Khan Aug 01, 2012 09:44am
Good luck young man. Keep doing what you are doing and ignore the ignorant ones here.
RetiredHurt Aug 01, 2012 09:45am
you've made tremendous improvement in your game! may you be successful in this world and the hereafter. p.s we played under 15 from zone 3 together. you promised me vimto. i still havent got my crate. lets see if you remember who i am :)
Saad Aug 01, 2012 11:59pm
Kindly check in some authentic book what kinds of sports are allowed in Islam. I am sure I wont have to further debate with you once you have some knowledge in this regard. But still if you feel like arguing for the sake of arguing, then be my guest.
Sabeen Aug 02, 2012 07:03am
Instead of demoralizing the new generation we should appreciate them and motivate them. these type of statements should not be used we all are educated. this is negatively impacting our economy and image of the country. At least we should be happy that what we cant do someone else is doing and making our country feel proud.!
Ali Aug 02, 2012 09:11am
Who are you to judge someone else. Take a look in the mirror first. God will ask you of what you did in the world and not what others did. Shame on two faced people like you who judge others on religion and ignore the wrong doing that they do themselves. And stop talking about books when I can bet that you don't even have a clue if what's written in the Quran. Shan just ignore these people, they worship for one month and start thinking that they are god sent angels. All the best, the country needs someone like you, educated and good at cricket.
saythetruth Aug 02, 2012 05:06pm
I disagree with you nobody is judging him may be advise is better therm. Yes, a person who stay away from harm and spend time in Ibadaat is always better than the one who spend all his time doing wasteful things. As a Muslim you should know Allah has created us for Ibadaat and towards the end the reward is Jannah. Ibadaat include everthing halal earning, tolerace, paryer etc it a complete pacakage no just one thing. It is all about balance month of Ramazan is a special month more Ibadaat and less cricket.
Jamil Aug 03, 2012 05:25am
We should not discourage youngsters but instead encourage them, encourage sports especially cricket.
cricketlover Aug 10, 2012 05:13am
Its good to read that players are fasting during ramadan and leavig them for the sake of cricket. well done. i'm sure you also pray, read Quran etc but just haven't mentioned it. since this is an open diary it would be good to list all your acitvities as professional first class cricket during ramadan. so younger and indeed older people can take inspiration :) All the best and happy Ramadan
cricketlover Aug 10, 2012 05:27am
its funny you are doing exactly the same thing and thats judging him!! have you ever wondered why there is so much problems which you've highlighted already? us Muslims have gone off the path of our deen. so when ever someone tries to guide someone sincerely he becomes the Judge, hypocrete you name it !! there is nothing wrong with being a cricketer and all the best to shan. but what those other brothers were pointing out that fasting is not about not eating for certain time, and during the day sleeping going to cinema etc. its more than that. we should all be taking inspiration and try to be like Hashim Amla of South Africa. he is a practicing muslim and Allah is rewarding him. where as in our country which was built in the name of Allah (pakistan ka mutlab kia la ilah...) anyone tries to follow the deen and give dawah to others to do the same becomes a hypocrete, judge, molvi!!!! no wonder pakistan is the way it is. like people like leaders!!!