Big Bash League: Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s temperament is his strength, feels Daniel Vettori
Mujeeb Ur Rahman is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket this year. ©AFP

The prodigious talents of teenage all-sorts spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman have the Brisbane Heat coach Daniel Vettori excited ahead of the eighth season of the KFC Big Bash League (BBL).

Mujeeb, 17, in October became the latest Afghanistan  player to feature in the BBL after signig with Brisbane Heat as the franchise’s second overseas signing after Brendon McCullum. This makes his the youngest player to turn out in the BBL’s existence.

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Having himself debuted in Test cricket at the age of 18, Vettori understands the challenges of bowling to star batsmen in front of big crowds but feels that what Mujeeb has experienced in a short span of time while playing for Afghanistan and in various T20 leagues across the world puts him in a better spot.

“The thing for him is, since he’s arrived on the international scene he’s performed wherever he’s gone – and he’s gone everywhere,” said Vettori on Wednesday. “He’s played in most comps around the world and he’s been highly successful. He’s got so much experience in such a short period of time that I think he really understands his game. I think that’s true of all the Afghan players – they all feel like their self-coached, so therefore they really know what they’re doing in any situation.”

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Mujeeb, who will turn 18 in March, has already played 23 ODIs, seven T20Is and Afghanistan’s inaugural Test match in June. In franchise cricket, he has turned out in the IPL, the Pakistan Super League, Bangladesh Premier League, Afghanistan Premier League and the recent T10 League in the UAE.

Mujeeb Ur Rehman took 14 wickets in 11 matches for Kings XI Punjab.
Mujeeb Ur Rehman took 14 wickets in 11 matches for Kings XI Punjab. © AFP

Mujeeb was part of Afghanistan’s inaugural Test side that was thumped by India in June, and the teen already has 23 ODIs and seven T20Is to his name. This year, he is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket with 37 from 20 games at an average of 19.54 and exceptional economy rate of 3.84.

Vettori, having spent some time with Mujeeb at a pre-BBL camp at Gold Coast, was impressed by the teenager’s focus.

“From what I’ve seen, he doesn’t get flustered, the pressure’s not an issue for him, and he just gets on with things, and particularly bowling at the Gabba, that’s the mentality that you need,” he said. “The thing that separates him I think is his action,” he said. “He’s very tall, he bowls quick, and he bowls from a height that makes it difficult. His variations, while you won’t see them as much on a wicket like the Gabba, his control of those variations set him apart.”

Mujeeb now joins the legspinner Mitch Swepson as a potent slow-bowling pair for Brisbane in keeping with the franchise’s faith in spin.

“We’ve tried to play a game predominantly around spin at the Gabba with Mitchell Swepson, Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah and (Samuel) Badree over the years,” said Vettori. “I think Mujeeb will continue that on.”