A youth who convinces his father and finds a career in cricket.
Ahead of ICC Asia Cup Under-19 tour in December, 2016, uncapped Naveen Ul Haq reveals his Bangladesh Shpageeza experiences, a tour that helped him gain greater confidence of playing with and against experienced international players on a bigger stage.
In 2006, he convinced his father after multiple attempts of requests to start his career. He got admission in Kabul Cricket Stadium and found his way to under 16, 19 and then to international cricket. “Convincing my father for a career in cricket was a real challenge” said Haq.
“I love fielding and Suresh Raina is my favorite. I met him in 2014 in Chennai India, where he give me tips about long catches and boundaries fielding. Umar Gul, Hamid Hassan were always supportive for improving my bowling. None other than Dawlat Ahmadzi always supported me for improving bowling will be remembered” said Haq.
Haq went to under-16 trials and he was than selected by the section committee for Under-16 Malaysia tour. He played well during the tournament and got three wickets in a single match, which paved the way for career in international cricket. Here you can read his answers to our questions.
Q1: Who inspired you at early age and why did you opt cricket as a career?
Over all Afghans are very talented if given a chance. I always used to watch cricket on television and I never missed Afghanistan cricket match on television. Afghanistan Under-19 played world cup in 2010 and played fantastic game against India and England. My first inspiration is Hamid Hassan and I played under-16 and performed there so I thought that I can go and represent my country.
Q2: As a young player, what did you take away from the Shpageeza and Bangladesh Series?
It’s the experience of playing alongside or against some of the top players of the cricket world which is indescribable in words. I have obviously played alongside Pakistan’s top players in our domestic competitions Shpageeza Cricket League, but playing against Bangladesh was a whole new experience for me. The other important lesson that I took from Bangladesh tour was how one can handles pressure in tough games. I believe any youngster who can learn to absorb this can go far in the future. I was lucky to have taken this on-board against toughest opposition I have ever played against.
Q3: How was the experience of playing alongside international players like Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Asif?
The advice and attention I got from Nabi and Asif was very special. In fact, Nabi gave me some very specific comments about my diet and fitness. He told me that hard work is important in any cricketer’s life but the role of having the right diet is crucial as it affects fitness as well. What really impressed me was the interest they took in me and helped in the execution of good planning.
Mohammad Asif give us useful tips about death over (slog over) and what variations are required in Twenty20 matches.
They also told me that I was a great prospect and my progress was very important for the future of Afghan Cricket. Of course, when such experienced players compliment you like that, you cannot help being filled with pride. I must thank Afghanistan Cricket Board for injecting International players like Mohammad Asif, Sikandar Raza and Mohammad Sami.
Q4: How was your experience of playing cricket against International cricketers?
Obviously it feels proud and good when you got wicket for your country. I believe U19 is a very good platform for any youngster to prove himself and to absorb international pressure at an early stage, it gives you a lot of experience, so yeah it was very good for my career.
Playing against international team on home ground and home crowed was challenging. Bangladesh has a lot of experience, and Afghanistan team played very well and gave them a tough time in the first two matches. We have learnt lot of things from these matches.
Q5: Recently you have been in great form, any particular reason behind it?
Well yeah a reason behind it is my hard work and dedication, to perform up to the mark you need to 100 % fit. After 2016 Under-19 world cup I went to ANCA and worked on my technique and gave more time to my cricket and fitness. I also attend two months’ fitness training session with Afghan Mixed Martial Art fighter Baz Mohammad Mubariz. I tried to focus more and I guess that's the reason behind current form.
Q6: What are your future plans and what are you aiming for?
I certainly want to play for Afghanistan and I want to be the stable member of the national team squad. I really want to serve my country, another aim is to win the World Cup for my country and want to contribute as much as I can!
Q7: What do you think about our domestic structure? After U19 Do players get proper opportunity?
Yeah to be honest, yes, they get proper opportunity, our domestic structure is very improved, now we have 4-Day, 3-Day, 2-Day regular tournament played in Afghanistan's, Khost, Kabul and Jalalabad.
Q8: Naveen are you continuing your studies or it became difficult for you to manage cricket and studies together?
Well it's really difficult to manage study and cricket together, I passed grade 12 am trying to continue my higher studies and soon will get admission in University.