Mohammad Irfan: 14 interesting things to know about the tallest cricketer

Born, June 6, 1982, Mohammad Irfan is a fast bowler who represents Pakistan cricket team in international cricket. Irfan hails from the rural part of eastern Pakistan,  Gaggu Mandi, from where another tall bowler came into international cricket, Mohammad Zahid. He has been the part of Pakistan side across the formats since last few years. On his 34th birthday, Abhishek Kumar digs out 14 lesser known facts about him.

1.  Tallest cricketer: Standing at 7’1”, Irfan is the tallest cricketer in the history, surpassing former West Indian cricketer Joel Garner and former Australian cricketer Bruce Reid. Both of the former cricketers are 6’8”.

2.  Life before becoming cricketer: Irfan was born in a poor family. He could only complete his secondary education and could not study further because he had six brothers. He joined a plastic factory just after completing his 10th grade. Currently, he has five brothers and two sisters as one of his brother died 10 years back. Irfan is the youngest of all.

3.  Almost give up on becoming cricketer: In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Irfan revealed about his life during his working days in a plastic factory and said, “I had started enjoying my routine at the PVC factory. I had been promoted to the role of a foreman. I had accepted the fact that I had cricket in my life, but only for entertainment. I was earning enough money for myself and my family. I wanted to earn a respectable livelihood. I dreamt of playing at the national level, but that’s a dream every amateur cricketer has.”

 4.  How Irfan get into cricket: He has a very good height but was not aware of what was the best Irfan can do with it and it took almost a decade time to decide for himself. “It was only after I joined Khan Research Laboratory (KRL). I was relatively late to cricket. People started taking me seriously only after I came into First-Class cricket. Before that I was a very raw cricketer. My height was obviously an advantage but I did not know how to use it,” said Irfan told ESPNCricinfo.

 5.  Who helped him grow as fast bowler: It was former pacers Aaqib Javed and Wasim Akram who gave tips to Irfan for his improvement and contributed in his development.

 6.  His forgetful first over in international cricket: He made his first appearance in international cricket on September 10, 2010 for Pakistan in a One-Day International (ODI) against South Africa. In his very first over — which was the second over of the match — he went on to concede 15 runs in which Andrew Strauss hit him for three boundaries in last four balls. He bowled 5.3 overs and gave away 37 runs without taking a single wicket.

 7.  Almost got the chance to play in IPL: After making his international debut, Akram recommended his name to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) side to represent them in 2011 season of Indian Premier League. He went to Sri Lanka for the trials and took at least three wickets from his spell of four overs and did not conceded more than 11 runs in every match he played. KKR coach Dav Whatmore was impressed with him but unfortunately he had to get the approval from both Indian and Pakistan cricket boards to play the tournament in India, which Irfan could not get.

 9.  Highly praised by Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar: Both were among the best pacers in international cricket and both rate Irfan very highly because of his god-gifted height and frame. Akram gave tips to improve his bowling and recommended him to KKR, while Akhtar was the one who was alongside him in his domestic cricket days.

 10.  Irfan’s take on food: Because of Irfan’s height, he needs to get updated every time with his food and while talking to com.pk, he said, “I am not very picky when it comes to food. I eat whatever I get but yes, I really like biryani. Besides I take milk because I need more calcium than any other person. I also get hungry very fast, so I need something to eat after every two hours or so. Even after dinner, I keep something in my room to eat so that I don’t have to run here and there in the middle of the night. Cannott really help it.”

 11.  Irfan’s translator: Because of not having good education, Irfan could not understand and speak English very well and once he asked his teammate Asad Shafiq to translate everything for him. In an interview with com, Shafiq said about this funny incident and explained how it all started and ended. “During a flight he asked me to translate every time the air hostess spoke to us. After doing this for a bit I got tired and asked him to say ‘no’ to whatever the air hostess said and I went to sleep. After an hour Irfan woke me up telling me that he was starving and the air hostess did not give him any food. I burst into laughter as I realised that the excessive use of ‘no’ had deprived the tall fast bowler of his meal.”

12.  When Irfan played against doctor’s advice: Like every other pacer, Irfan too has faced lot of injuries and that has affected his career as well. There is an incident when Irfan got selected in Pakistan’s T20I side despite doctor gave him advice to rest. He was picked for the final T20 which was to be played against South Africa in December 2013 in UAE. His selection happened because of Moin Khan, who was heading the team management and wanted Irfan to play because Junaid Khan was not fit. Spinner Abdur Rehman was available but Irfan was chosen and he ended up injuring his hip which led to his exclusion from series against Sri Lanka in UAE.

 13.  Funny interview of Irfan: Before the second ODI between Pakistan and England on November 13, 2015 at Abu Dhabi, Irfan was getting interviewed by former Pakistan cricketer Bazid Khan, who was a part of the commentary team. To take Irfan’s interview, Bazid along with his cameraman had to take the help of a random box in which they stood on so that both of them can match his height.

14.  When side screen’s height was increased because of Irfan: During the second ODI between India and Pakistan at Eden Gardens, Kolkata in January 3, 2013, because of Irfan’s tall height side screen’s height was increased. And because of that, around 70-100 seats remained unsold which were behind the sight screen and no one was allowed to sit as they would not have sbeen able to watch the match.

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with Criclife.com. He can be followed at abhicricket.kumar and @abhishekkr2593)