25-year-old Hamza Tahir is without a doubt, one of the most special talents in Scottish cricket at the moment. The left-arm orthodox bowler made his debut in 2018 and has played 17 matches for the national team. In this short span of time, he has delivered one top notch performance after another, outsmarting many a batsman. His bowling averages at the moment in ODIs and T20Is are 17.53 and 19.55 respectively which is testament to how consistent he has been.
It is evident from the way Tahir has gone about his bowling that he is destined to be a star and a mainstay in the national team for years to come. There won’t be a better platform for him to make a statement and seal his place in the team than by coming good in the T20 World Cup in India which will be held later this year.
While the squads for the World Cup have not been announced, it seems unlikely that Tahir will not be picked. The focus for the team and the spinner therefore, will first be on doing well in the qualifiers. The side has suffered a lot of disappointments and heartbreaks in previous qualification tournaments and they wouldn’t want the same to continue.
Hamza Tahir spoke to firstsportz.com in an exclusive chat about his inspirations, his goals, favourite performances, the upcoming T20 World Cup and more.
Excerpts from the exclusive interview with Hamza Tahir
Why did you become a cricketer? What inspired you? Did something spark in you during a moment where you realized it or was it something that you always worked towards?
I don’t think there was an exact moment where I thought “Yes, I’m going to be a cricketer.” I think the influences and role models around me were probably the reason I wanted and continued to pursue cricket and take it seriously. Both my older cousins, Majid Haq and Omer Hussain have represented Scotland so it was always something I looked up to and aspired towards.
Who was your inspiration when you were younger? Who did you look up to?
Growing up I definitely looked up to bowlers like Rangana Herath from Sri Lanka and Daniel Vettori from New Zealand. Being the same type of bowler these are the people you tend to look up to and watch closely.
Who was the mentor or coach who played a key role in making you who you are today?
I wouldn’t really say I’ve had a main mentor or someone responsible for where I am today. I would say working with Con de Lange who sadly passed away 2 years ago helped my bowling a lot in terms of bowling style and just giving me that extra confidence when I needed it especially if I wasn’t in the best of form. It’s something I know that I’ll always remember. I would also say in current Scotland, Shane Burger has helped push my career on further. There was a period before his appointment when I wasn’t getting regular game time but he believed in me and gave me regular opportunities in which I’ve performed well and I hope to keep working hard and performing for my country.
You’re a left-arm orthodox bowler. So did you model your bowling around any past bowlers in particular? Or was your bowling something that you naturally developed by yourself?
Throughout the years my bowling style and technique have changed massively. I wouldn’t say my bowling style or technique is similar to that of any other spinner. In the Scotland national team, my fellow teammate, friend and top left-arm bowler Mark Watt and myself have a very similar action but are completely different bowlers.
The pandemic situation was a very difficult period of time for sportspersons. How did the situation affect the way you train? Were you able to train as a team by means of national camps or was everything limited to individual training?
I think the best teams adapt to any situation no matter how tough. Having said that, we’ve not had the game time or training time we’ve hoped for but we have trained together as a team throughout the pandemic, whether in small 4 week blocks with breaks in between the blocks or zoom calls weekly to keep the team spirit and togetherness high.
The World T20 is not too far away now. How has the team’s and your preparation been? Do you think Scotland can cause an upset or two?
Preparation is probably something most teams can say isn’t ideal at the minute especially for associate teams who don’t get the same opportunities as others. However, we train with a purpose and there’s no reason why we can’t cause an upset at the World Cup. In T20 cricket it only takes a couple of match winning performances by players in the team to win the game. It can be very unpredictable.
What is one performance of yours that you consider your favorite?
Definitely my first ODI 5-for against Oman in Aberdeen. I’ve had several other performances that I’m pleased with. My man of the match performance against PNG in the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifiers and a few other but if I had to pick one, I would have to say my first ODI 5-for.
Can you talk to us about Scottish cricket? Do you think it is on the right track at the moment? How do you think it can improve?
Definitely on the right track, I think once we get through this pandemic and can play regular cricket again then we will get to where we want to be as a team which is full membership and playing regular games against the top 10.
What is the next goal for you? What would you say is your ultimate dream?
My next goal is hopefully to get selected in the World Cup squad for this year in India. Down the line I would like to play County cricket and T20 tournaments around the globe.
What would your advice be for young and aspiring cricketers hoping to make it big in cricket?
Keep working hard, it only takes one big performance to change your circumstances.
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