Home > Features > Interviews >

I’m hungry to play for Pakistan: Azeem Ghumman

I'm hungry to play for Pakistan: Azeem Ghumman

Azeem Ghumman hopes to perform well in First-Class cricket this season © Getty Images

By Nasser Khan

Azeem Ghumman made his First-Class debut at the age of 16 and, was viewed at the time as one of the brightest young talents in the country. He went on to lead Pakistan to the final of the 2010 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand. Four years on, Ghumman has struggled to fulfill the promise of his early career. Whilst his inability to represent Pakistan at the highest level is a cause of concern, it’s easy to forget that Ghumman’s still only 22 years old, an age in which many players have not yet made their First-Class debuts.

PakPassion.net caught up with the young batsmen to talk about his career to date, his hopes for selection for the upcoming Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup, domestic cricket and his thoughts on Pakistan-19s chances on their tour of England in August.

Ghumman began by providing an assessment of his early career, with frankness reminiscent of his time as captain of the Pakistan Under-19s, “I have always believed you should be fair with yourself and others. Prior to the Under-19 World Cup and for a short period after it, I was performing very well and leading well. It was all going smoothly, but after failing to perform, when I was appointed captain for the Pakistan A tour of Sri Lanka, I was dropped. The following year I also failed to perform in domestic cricket. I believe that is the only year in which I haven’t been able to perform.” He continues “In the years prior to that – 2008 and 2009 — and in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, I was playing well and have also in the subsequent years. However, even during my difficult year, coaches around me told me every player goes through bad patches — even the top players who suffer poor form for not only one, but perhaps through two lean years.”

Ghumman indicated that although breaking into the starting eleven for his domestic side had been difficult, when given the opportunity he had been able to perform, despite his limited opportunities “When I started playing better for my department there were some good players in the squad so I wasn’t given many opportunities to play. However, when I got the chance, in the two matches I played I scored two half-centuries. I played against Hyderabad and my performance was enough for me to regain my confidence. In the two tournaments I played recently, One-Day and T20s, I have been one of the top-ten batsmen in the region and regained my confidence. When you don’t perform for a year you lose confidence, you start questioning your technique and forget that it was this technique that allowed you to reach this far. It was good to get some runs under my belt.”

Despite falling off the national selectors’ radar, with the PCB due to announce their squad for the forthcoming Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup, Ghumman retains the belief he can perform if given the opportunity “I am hopeful of being selected for the Under-23 tournament. In the two tournaments I have played for Hyderabad, I have been amongst the top ten batsmen of any age category, and there are no other Under-23 batsmen who are in the top ten with me. I also got a contract in the BPL [Bangladesh Premier League]. Unfortunately I was unable to go, but it would have provided me with some exposure, given the matches were televised.”

The tournament organized by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) could be the springboard he needs to push himself into contention for the national side says the right-handed batsmen “The Under-23 tournament could provide a route back for me. I’m hungry to play cricket for Pakistan but I rely on selection based on the tournaments I play for my region. It also appears that the Under-23s include a lot of the guys who I captained in the Under-19s four years ago in 2009. I am working hard, maintaining full fitness and if the PCB were to select me I would be ready.”

Ghumman is competing with a number of established Pakistan internationals in his departmental team SUI Gas, including Azhar Ali and Taufeeq Umar. “It’s the number one department — they are winning a lot of trophies and have a lot of Test players, so it’s hard to say whether I will be first choice. There are only four or five batting slots, so obviously the Test players will take the batting slots because they are good enough — you cannot tell management to drop the Test quality players for me. The competition is very very tough. I’m not criticising the department, they have such quality players at their disposal that team selection is not an easy decision. In our department this year, whenever the Pakistan national team goes on tour, up to five players could be selected for the national squad. This in turn, provides an opportunity for other players in the department squad to step up and play more matches. This year I have every hope I will play well and I’ll receive support. I believe if a player plays all of the matches for his department, he’ll perform. My problem has been the lack of matches — I am hopeful of more matches this year and if I get the chances, I will be able to perform.”

With the Pakistan Under-19 side due to embark on a tour of England next month, Ghumman is positive on their chances of success “The Pakistan Under-19 team is always a strong one. I have played against the captain Sami Aslam and he’s a very good player and I’m hopeful they can perform. There are three or four guys who I know. If they play without fear, they can win. I have always been a great believer in momentum — in bowling batting and as a team. Once you have momentum it’s very difficult to stop the side. The talent there is at Under-19 level in Pakistan cannot be matched by any other country.”

The Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup is due to commence on 17 August 2013 in Singapore.
 
(Nasser Khan is a writer for Pakpassion.net, from where the above article is published with permission)

India tour of England 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Birmingham

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 4, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Leeds

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (19:30 IST)   at Kingstown, St Vincent

More

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 31, 2014  at Harare

Zimbabwe won by 3 wkts

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Dambulla

SL won by 7 wkts (D/L method)

India tour of England 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Nottingham

India won by 6 wkts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 29, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 61 runs

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Photos

Australia vs Zimbabwe, ODI tri-series at Harare

Videos

Misbah disppointed with Pakistan's performance

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Zimbabwe’s 12 most memorable victories in international cricket

Zimbabwe vs Australia, 4th ODI: Highlights

Elton Chigumbura-Prosper Utseya partnership takes Zimbabwe to historic win over Australia

Australia Australia and South Africa in Zimbabwe 2014 Australia vs Zimbabwe England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan South Africa Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014 Zimbabwe vs Australia

Sourav Ganguly: England have mental block playing spinners

BCCI official: Tough for board to host Annual General Meeting this month

Javed Miandad, Abdul Qadir question mindset of Pakistan players

Aditya Verma: Happy with Supreme Court’s decision not to reinstate N Srinivasan as BCCI president

Misbah-ul-Haq shouldn’t lead Pakistan any more, feel former players

Myth busting – Ranji, CB Fry, Sussex and the fertile mind of Neville Cardus

Duncan Fletcher’s heroics and Zimbabwe’s first win over Australia

Archie MacLaren’s amateurs fell Warwick Armstrong’s mighty Australians in one of cricket’s greatest fairytales

David Bairstow: A champion claimed by depression

Should Michael Clarke cut down on playing time ahead of ICC World Cup 2015?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

668 Posts | 6 Fans

Yuvraj Singh's ton against MCC

Sony SmartWatch 3 and SmartBand Talk leaked ahead of September 4 launch

Motorola Moto G successor will also be called Moto G, leaked photo from Flipkart warehouse suggests

Revealed: Celebs you might see in Salman Khan’s Bigg Boss 8

BCCI official: Tough for board to host Annual General Meeting this month

NGOs pursue education for all

Shah Rukh Khan to start shooting for Fan and Raees next year!

Fifty BJP MPs stage dharna against UP government

Xiaomi Redmi 1S on flash sale on Sept 2, will Flipkart crash once again?

How to plan a home birth

9 blood cancer signs and symptoms you should know

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here