A teenage tearaway from Pakistan is no new phenomenon, but Naseem Shah, 16 years of age, could be in for a debut at Brisbane when Pakistan take on Australia in the first Test of the series. Pakistan Captain Azhar Ali confirmed in the pre-match press conference that 16-year-old pacer Naseem Shah is gearing up to make his debut in the first Test against Australia starting on Thursday at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Naseem has only ever played seven first-class games so far but has made an instant impression with his pace and movement. Uncapped Muhammad Musa and Shaheen Afridi are the others vying for a place. Mohammad Abbas and Imran Khan are almost certain starters in the pace department.
“Not many players can be at that standard so early but there are exceptions and he is one of them,” Ali said. “And hopefully, we are all looking forward to it, that … he can have a very successful career.”
“When I saw him first, I was so surprised. The control he had, the pace he had – and the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so much exciting to see,” he added.
In fact, a total tally of 27 first-class wickets at an excellent average of 16.66 justifies Ali’s words too.
“The best thing about Naseem Shah is the control he has on his bowling,” head coach Misbah-ul-Haq told cricket.com.au.
“He has a very good bowling action and knows which deliveries to bowl. He can bowl with very good control. He knows his stuff and bowled really well in the first-class matches he played this season.
“He’s bowled well here too and is the standout bowler for us. The way he’s been bowling, he can be a match-winner for us,” he added.
Naseem, whose mother passed away last week, went on to terrorise Australia’s A team with his pace, bowling incredibly to the likes of Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris.
“He spoke to his family and they said ‘this is where your mum would have wanted you to be’,” Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan told the Sydney Morning Herald on why Naseem opted to remain in Australia.
“Everyone has rallied around him, keeping a close eye on him, making sure he’s okay.
“He’s got a few confidantes in the team that he can go to if he’s feeling low or not feeling great. He wanted to stick it out,” Wasim added.
The pacer will also go on to eclipse Australia’s Ian Craig as the youngest Test debutant on Australian soil. Craig made his debut as a 17-year-old against South Africa in 1953.