Shahzad sets out to emulate heroes

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Ajmal Shahzad & Waqar Younis

Ajmal Shahzad picks up tips from Pakistan legend Waqar Younis during England's Twenty20 series against Pakistan in Dubai

England's Ajmal Shahzad has been seeking advice from Pakistan legends Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in a bid to forge an international future for himself.

Huddersfield-born Shahzad's father is Pakistani and although he has only twice visited the country, the Yorkshire all-rounder remembers being spellbound by the exploits of Wasim and Waqar from a young age.

The pair were once the most feared strike pair in world cricket and their early mastery of reverse swing, long before it attained the level of buzz it now enjoys, is the stuff of folklore.

Shahzad, a deceptively quick, contagiously confident 24-year-old on his first senior international tour, is hoping to master the art in a bid to offer the England attack something different, and he has not been shy about seeking out the wisest counsel.

Waqar was in Dubai earlier this month, working as a media pundit for the England v Pakistan Twenty20 series - the second match of which saw Shahzad make his debut in England colours - and Shahzad quickly sought him out.

"I've spoken to Waqar. When we were in Dubai he was there doing some commentating. He came down to speak to (England spin bowling coach) Mushtaq Ahmed and I thought I better grab five minutes of his time and make use of him. He was telling me how to grip it.

"I said to Mushy 'I want to speak to Wasim and Waqar if I get the chance' and he said I may get the opportunity.

"I've spoken to my agent and he is going to let me speak to Wasim when he comes to England this year too.

"So I've spoken to Waqar, I'm going to speak to Wasim when I get back and also the likes of (former Yorkshire overseas player) Rana Naved - people who are known for it.

"I want to keep developing that side. Obviously I'm not going to be as good as them, not just yet, but if I can get a little bit of reverse swing going it will stand me in good stead."

Shahzad is a proud, and thickly-accented, Yorkshireman but he confesses to feeling a touch of excitement when the great Pakistan duo were causing England all kinds of problems in the 1990s.

"I still watch Wasim today on YouTube," he said. "He's the man to watch. He can swing it in and away at will without changing his action.

"And I love watching Waqar's dismissals. Watching him bowl (former England batsman) Graeme Hick out with away-swinging yorkers, it's brilliant."


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