DateLine: 29th September 2010
As Pakistan cricket once again drags itself up from the floor after yet another overseas tour marred by controversy, many fans and former players are calling for an influx of youth to be given an opportunity in both the Test and one day squads.
19 year old Hammad Azam is a name on the lips of many keen observers of the game in Pakistan, and he is one of the bright prospects that optimists hope can lead Pakistan forward.
Azam has only featured in 9 first class matches, 2 of which were Twenty20 fixtures, but has already done enough to catch the eye of the National selectors who chose him for the Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean earlier this year, after some impressive performances in the Under 19 World Cup. In addition to the World Cups, Azam has featured in recent squads for Pakistan "A" and was one of the better performers in Sri Lanka recently.
A tall and elegant batting all-rounder, Azam hails from Attock in Punjab. A thoughtful young man, whose determination could be the key to a promising career in cricket.
Speaking to PakPassion.net ; Hammad spoke of his personal satisfaction on a tough tour of Sri Lanka, where Pakistan A took part in a one day tri-series against the hosts and South Africa, followed by 2 Test matches against Sri Lanka A.
"Thanks to Allah the Almighty, I did quite well on the tour. It was a very tough tour, but I gave my all in every match. In the tri-series I scored 106 runs at an average of just over 35. I played in one Test and took 4 wickets and scored 53 runs. We didn't perform as well as we would have liked to as a team, but it is all part of the learning curve for the young boys that were on that tour. This was my second "A" tour and tours like this are really helping in my development. I have been given the opportunity to play in varying conditions, against some very tough opponents like Farveez Maharoof of Sri Lanka who has a lot of international experience, so it's all positive in my opinion and is really helping with my confidence."
Whilst the World Cup is only a matter of months away, Azam refuses to be drawn into thinking that far in the future and prefers to focus on a strong performance in the upcoming domestic season and then leave the rest to the selectors.
"Naturally I dream of selection for the World Cup, but before I even think of being selected for such a prestigious tournament, I need to put on a good show in domestic cricket. I'm confident that I can put in a strong performance in the upcoming domestic season. I want to get some runs and wickets under my belt, and then the rest is down to the selectors."
Azam certainly appears to be a one day specialist, but he has hopes to play for Pakistan in all formats of the game.
"So far my opportunities have predominantly been in the shorter formats of the game for the Pakistan "A" side, but I'm hoping that I can perform well in 4 day domestic cricket too this season and to continue my development. I've hopefully got a lot of cricket ahead of me, I've got so much to learn about the game and it's important that I keep taking on board the help and advice that my team mates and coaches are giving me. I've been so lucky to have played alongside a number of international players and this season, I will be playing for National Bank which will give me further opportunity to play in the same team as a number of excellent cricketers."
Recalling the Twenty20 World Cup earlier this year, Hammad felt that it was a brilliant experience for him, even though he was not given an opportunity to play any matches in the Caribbean.
"Just being in the West Indies, in such a high profile tournament was a brilliant experience. Yes I would have liked to have played in at least one of the matches, but I respect the captain and coach's decision not to play me as I feel that they knew best and chose the team that they thought would win each match."
Azam feels that his stronger suit at the moment is his batting and that he needs to develop his bowling further to become a genuine all-rounder.
"There's no doubt that my batting is my strength at the moment, and if I want to be recognised as a genuine all-rounder, then I need to further develop my bowling. I'm working with my coaches on my bowling, as there are some key areas that I need to improve upon."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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