Pacer Hamid Hassan had turned up for Afghanistan even after his career-threatening injury in 2012, the last time being in a one-day against England in 2015. Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Sharjah: January 7, 2012 is a date Afghanistan pace bowler Hamid Hassan will not forget in a hurry. Headed towards something bigger in his career, it was on this day that life dealt a cruel twist of fortune for him.

Chasing a shot from crossing the boundary line, Hassan landed on both his knees and the next thing he remembered was waking up with excruciating pain in a Dubai hospital. After the MRI, he was dealt the sad news – his left knee miniscule and ligaments had been badly ruptured and getting back on the field would be a long and tedious process.

 "I have come this far and I am not willing to give up so easily. I know the way will be long and hard, but I will never give up on my dream of playing for Afghanistan again."

 - Hamid Hassan

Now 31, Hassan is trying to put his life together – alternating between rehabilitation, personal training to keep fit and now a commentary assignment at the ongoing inaugural edition of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL). He had turned up for Afghanistan even after the injury, the last time being in a ODI against England in 2015 but Hassan arguably was no longer the same bowler.

“I have not given up hope on playing the national team shirt again. Give me another 10 to 12 weeks and I will be up for selection into the Afghanistan squad for next year’s ICC World Cup in England,” Hassan told Gulf News at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

“I have come this far and I am not willing to give up so easily. I know the way will be long and hard, but I will never give up on my dream of playing for Afghanistan again,” he added.

In Afghanistan’s short but sparkling cricket folklore, Hassan’s name is right up there. In June 2007, he became the first player ever from the novice cricketing nation to play at the hallowed Lord’s representing the MCC against a select Europe XI.

A bit taller than 6ft and with a smooth and athletic run-up, Hassan has more than once surprised some of the top batsmen in the world. That match at Lord’s was a huge step for the bowler who had played much of his cricket without his family even knowing about it.

The second of three boys – the oldest Rashid is a doctor and the youngest Shamshad, an officer in the Customs Department – Hassan used to be backed by Rashid and his mum in playing the sport he loved while growing up in Peshawar. The family had moved to Pakistan when Hassan was only six years old to avoid the war-torn region of their hometown Jalalabad.

Hassan’s father who eventually came to know of his second son’s cricketing escapdes, was given a thrashing and locked up in a room for a couple of days. However, nothing would satiate the young Hassan’s love for the sport as he was eventually slotted to tour England with the national side in 2006. After that, there was no looking back till that fateful day in 2012 at the ICC Cricket Academy ground in Dubai. “I can never forget that day or date,” a somewhat emotional Hassan said.

“I have the will to achieve. Only Allah can help me. I don’t care about money or fame. I just want to play cricket again,” he added.