THE NEW KID ON THE CRICKET BLOCK - NASEEM SHAH
Naseem Shah has been a having a good year, he sets records, takes wickets and also wins matches for team Pakistan with his blitzing and heroic innings even as a batsman. The He cricketing world has found a new wonder and Pakistan has found its new superstar who is on his way to superstardom. Even though Naseem made his international debut in 2019 as one of the youngest players ever to represent the national team but it was his performance in the recent Asia Cup 2022 that caught the world’s eye and soon enough everyone was talking about this 19-year-old cricketer. He managed to grab attention of everyone even of cricket fans from across the border, what followed after that was pure entertainment for the world of social media but Naseem doesn’t let anything distract him from his one passion and focus that is cricket – he wants to be a key player in bringing the World Cup glory home, which is about to commence this month.
We had the pleasure of speaking to this wonderful young man in Lahore as he posed for our cameras and spoke everything about getting fame, attention and his dreams. Read on...
Hello Naseem. We’re honoured to have you on our cover this month. You’re one of the youngest players ever to make their international cricket debut. Does it ever feel like you achieved everything too soon? How are you enjoying the success and how do you manage to stay grounded?
Thank you for having me. Well, everything that I’ve achieved is all because of my mother’s prayers. I think attaining success is never too early or too late and I am certainly looking forward to more victories and triumphs 'Inshallah'...
I think attaining success is never too early or too late and I am certainly looking forward to more victories and triumphs
Take us back to your childhood. Was cricket always your passion or was there ever a point where you wanted to take a different career route?
Every child in Pakistan is fervent about cricket, so naturally I was also very passionate about it and I definitely have come a long way –
started with a tape ball and I never knew that one day I will be representing the national team of Pakistan
Your father recently said in an interview how he had to be strict with you because you didn’t focus on your studies. Was your family supportive of your cricketing choices or you had to convince them?
You know how our Pakistani parents are, my parents were the same too. They wanted me to study and only focus on my education but I was always more into the game of cricket. Playing cricket with my friends was one of the few things that I enjoyed in my childhood.
Do you remember the moment you first time put on the Pakistan team jersey? Fill us in on that memory and what was going through your mind.
Unreal, can't explain in words, it was and always will be an honour for me to represent Pakistan.
You stole everyone’s hearts with your pace and your famous two sixes against Afghanistan. And now you’re also a member of a million-club on social media. Tell us how are you handling all the fame and attention coming your way. Does it ever get a little distracting? How do you keep your focus?
I am never distracted by fame and attention, but I enjoy every bit of it. Fans are the ones who make you a star. I am grateful to every one of them, who’ve supported me throughout. The sixes against Afghanistan was something I can also never forget. 'Allah ne karwa diya!' (Allah made it happen). (Smiles)
For you to now be rubbing shoulders with millionaire owners, and megastars, and being famous yourself - how does it feel?
It feels good! I am blessed and grateful.
After your batting heroics, you have convinced a lot of people that you are perhaps a good batsman as well. Do you want to get up the order at some stage?
It's the team's decision; I have been practicing and improving my skills as a batsman so if my team needs me to play at a certain number, I will do that.
What does a cricket player need in their arsenal to have a great game?
Being focused and having game awareness is very important for any cricketer.
What do you think makes a team perform well and harmoniously?
Well, a positive attitude, and unity among all team mates is very important – accepting failures of each other and working on them is all part of success that you can achieve by putting up a united front.
What is one of your favourite cricket memories off-the-field?
There are too many favourite off-the-field memories to count but if I can recall one of the most recent ones then it has to be getting appreciation from the legendary Wasim Akram during Asia Cup 2022
Do you have a favourite player that you look up to or who inspires you? Also, who in the current team is your favourite person, someone you can call a friend? And who is the funniest?
I have many legendary cricketers whom I look up to like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.
Everyone is my favourite in the team, can't take any one name. The funniest however is Iftikhar Ahmed for sure – he keeps us all entertained
Describe Pakistan’s team for us in one sentence.
We are one of the best at the moment.
Have you set any goals for yourself for this upcoming World Cup? Tell us what achievement would make you the proudest.
To win matches for my team and take the World Cup home is my only goal right now
I think becoming the highest wicket taker in the world cup is something that would make me the proudest.
You have now played internationally in different tournaments. What is the one area where Pakistan have to improve according to you?
We as a team are improving in every area, it's a continuous process.
How do you unwind when you’re not playing?
Going to the gym with my friends. Also, I love spending time with my family and especially my nieces – helps me to relax and unwind.
What is The Dream for Naseem Shah at this point in your career?
To bring the World Cup home!
INTERVIEW: SUNDUS UNSAR RAJA
CREATIVE DIRECTION: STYLISTS IN THE CAPITAL
OUTFITS & STYLING: HSY
GROOMING: NABILA SALON, LAHORE
PHOTOGRAPHY: TAHIR CHAHUDHRY
COORDINATION & MANAGEMENT: SHEIKH MOGHEES AHMED, INTERNATIONAL CRICKETERS ASSOCIATION (ICA)
LOCATION: THE NISHAT HOTEL, LAHORE