Yasir Arafat urges more Pakistanis to play county cricket

Yasir Arafat has had multiple chances to participate in English county cricket © Getty Images

By Amir Husain

Yasir Arafat’s enigmatic existence doesn’t have many parallels in the cricketing world. The Rawalpindi born all-rounder is 31 years old, and given that he made his debut for Pakistan nearly 13 years ago in a One-Day International (ODIs) against Sri Lanka, one would expect him to have been a seasoned international player by now. However, his stop-start career for Pakistan is either an indication of a talent unfulfilled or of a career mismanaged by the powers that be. To date, Yasir has played only three Test matches for Pakistan scoring 94 runs and taking nine wickets. He has also played 11 ODIs making 74 runs and taking four wickets whilst his T20I record reads as 13 games played, scoring 92 runs with 16 wickets to his name.

His success and opportunities on the international scene may have been limited, but the fact remains that Arafat is a name that refuses to go away and continues to make headlines in domestic tournaments around the world including Pakistan, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh.

The latest English county to recognise Arafat’s all-round talent is Somerset who announced his signing for their Friends Life T20 campaign this season. The county obviously is looking to realise his potential as a frontline bowler and useful lower-order batsman with T20 skills and a proven record in this format. No stranger to the shortest format of the game, Arafat has had similar spells in England with Lancashire, Sussex, Kent and Surrey.

Speaking with PakPassion.net, Arafat expressed his delight at being picked by one of the most well-known county sides in England. “I’m delighted to be given another opportunity in County cricket. Somerset are a fantastic team with some great players and they have a proven pedigree in 20-over cricket. I’m really looking forward to playing alongside the likes of Marcus Trescothick, Craig Kieswetter, Peter Trego and the rest of the boys,” he said.

Arafat may be forgiven for feeling a little disheartened with the way his career has progressed on the international scene but he approaches such opportunities with a positive outlook and feels that the hunger to perform at all levels still lingers on.

“Every team you play for presents different challenges and even though I’ve played a lot of county cricket over the years, the hunger to succeed and to perform well is still there. You never get tired of playing top level cricket and I hope to perform well for Somerset in the Friends Life T20 and to help them achieve their goals this season.”

Arafat also feels fortunate that he has had multiple chances to participate in English county cricket — an experience he obviously cherishes but also recommends to his countrymen.

“The opportunity to play for Somerset presented itself and I didn’t hesitate to grasp the chance. County cricket is a wonderful experience and I’ve been lucky enough to have played for some great County sides over the years. I think playing in County cricket definitely improves your all round game and it’s something that more Pakistani cricketers should look to do. I would urge more Pakistani cricketers to look to play County cricket” stated Arafat.

Arafat’s international career statistics are witness to the fact that whilst he may have been discarded at points by Pakistani selectors, his desire to play for his country of birth has never been in question — in fact, Arafat feels that whatever chances he has to play for a county such as Somerset is another step towards a possible return to the colours of his national team.

“My aims have always been to play for Pakistan and that ambition still burns bright. I’m hoping that this spell with Somerset will once again alert the selectors to what I am capable of and I hope to play for Pakistan again.”

Yasir Arafat is expected to make his first appearance for Somerset on July 5 against Gloucestershire at Taunton.
(Amir Husain is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net)