NASEEM SHAH is a fast bowling sensation who made his Test debut for Pakistan aged just 16.
Now, at the grand old age of 17, Naseem has the speed, talent and confidence to give England’s batsmen a torrid time over the next three weeks.
Naseem was discovered by head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and fast bowling coach Waqar Younis while bowling in the nets at the national stadium in Lahore in 2018.
If he was a young English fast bowler, the pathway would have been Under-19s, Lions and maybe the senior side in about four years.
Pakistan? Let’s chuck him into a Test against Australia.
That is what happened less than a year after Misbah and Waqar first spotted the young lad who was raised in a village in the foothills of the Himalayas.
When he faced Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane, Naseem was the ninth-youngest player in history to play Test cricket and it came a day after his mother died in Pakistan.
His first wicket was David Warner — he dismissed him first with a no-ball but then with a legal delivery.
I feel good when I see fear in the batsman’s eyes, it motivates me to bowl even faster.Naseem Shah
Three months later, he became the youngest player to take a Test hat-trick, against Bangladesh.
Naseem said: “It was a difficult time for me in Australia. I was struggling to sleep after the loss of my mother.
“She always prayed for my success and dreamed of seeing me play for Pakistan. But she never saw that happen, which was tragic and heart-breaking. I think of her every time I take a wicket.
“I always wanted to be a fast bowler and, even in my school days, I loved to scare batsmen by bowling fast.
“I feel good when I see fear in the batsman’s eyes, it motivates me to bowl even faster.”
His Test captain, Azhar Ali, added: “He’s a young talent who came up and played Test cricket from nowhere.
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“He’s impressed us and is in our No 1 choice bowling attack. He is young and talented and, over time, will get the experience he needs.
“He is very threatening and hopefully will be very good for us in this series.”
And England skipper Joe Root has been mugging up on Naseem. He revealed: “I’ve watched a lot of footage of him — he’s a very exciting prospect. It looks very skilful and has a bit of pace.”
- ENGLAND (likely): Burns, Sibley, Root (capt), Stokes, Pope, Buttler (wkt), Woakes, Bess, Archer, Broad, Anderson.