Pakistan pacer Naseem Shah celebrates after taking the wicket of Bangladesh batsman Mahmudullah during the third day of their 1st test cricket match at Rawalpindi cricket stadium in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Pakistan pacer Naseem Shah celebrates after taking the wicket of Bangladesh batsman Mahmudullah to claim his hat-trick Image Credit: AP

Pakistan’s legacy of producing great fast bowlers still continues.

Years ago, it was West Indies who kept producing pacers one after the other.

Today, the Windies have lost that capability, but Pakistan seems to continue to deliver. The array of pacers that Pakistan has gifted to the world is indeed remarkable.

From Imran Khan to Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Amir, they could all wreck any batting line-up in the world.

It is this proud tradition that inspires many youngsters in Pakistan to become deadly pacers like 16-year-old Naseem Shah, who on Sunday, became the youngest bowler to bag a hat-trick against Bangladesh and ensure his country an emphatic win in the Rawalpindi Test match.

During my numerous interactions with Akram as well as Younis, I have always discussed with them about Pakistan’s never-ending assembly line of pacers, and both have remarked that their country has a big pool of naturally talented bowlers who can bowl with tearaway pace; but what makes only a few successful is the determination and devotion with which they nurture their skill.

It has been proved that a youngster, even if he hails from a poor family or from a remote city, he can aim to play international cricket if he is willing to work on his skills.

Shah hails from a small village and this hat-trick is indeed the reward for his determination.

Little wonder that this youngster was in tears when he addressed the press conference after winning the Man of the Match, because his mother, who had supported his dream, had passed away while he was in Australia in November and he was not there to see her for the last time.

Pakistan chief selector and coach Misbah-ul-Haq had come in for heavy criticism for introducing Shah so early into Test cricket and that too against Australia.

Haq, over the years as captain, has seen the traits of a good pacer and he persisted with the boy. Shah has eventually rewarded Haq for his belief in him.

In Pakistan, former cricketers, unlike in some other countries, make it a point to personally meet and encourage youngsters.

Like Akram, who was spotted by Imran Khan, most former pacers make it a point to encourage the pacers. Former Pakistan pacer Aaqib Javed is one among them, who visits remote areas in Pakistan to look for talent.

Shah’s feat will be a big boost for young pacers to dream high. The desire to emulate the illustrious pacers who brought pride, and even the World Cup to their country, will continue to influence youngsters.

Pakistan is also a country where Imran Khan, one of the finest all-rounders ever and a great fast bowler, rose to become their Prime Minister — once again proving that sky is the limit for those who wish to dream high.