Lucky Rashid Khan not a Sri Lankan | Sunday Observer

Lucky Rashid Khan not a Sri Lankan

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan

Contrary to what some self-styled coaching experts do in Sri Lanka that go unreported, Rashid Khan, the world’s most promising spinner, had none of the nonsense of altering and reshaping and was fortunate that he was born in Afghanistan and had six brothers as role models.

Several Sri Lankan spinners in the past have had their bowling actions tampered with by domestic coaches after leaving school and were lost.

Khan, the amiable and calm looking bowler is now enchanting commentators and spectators alike, while at the same time mesmerizing batsman with some of his vicious balls in the on-going Indian Premier League (IPL). His track record at the Australian Big Bash and the Caribbean Premier League ensured that he became a prized catch for the Sunrises Hyderabad, a team where Sri Lanka’s legendary spinner Muttiah Muralideran is a bowling mentor in the IPL.

“I learnt leg-spin from my (six) brothers. They are all cricket lovers and they all bowl leg spin. So I picked it up from them and it came naturally to me”, Khan was quoted by the cricinfo website as saying. “There was one difference in my kind of leg-spin - I used to bowl quick from the beginning. They (brothers) noticed that in my bowling and I realised that kind of bowling and the Wrong’uns came naturally to me”.

But Khan said the best thing that happened to him was that no coach had dared change anything in him.

“Whichever coaches I worked with, not one of them tried to change my style of bowling or my action. They would always give me confidence but nobody tried to change me. The head coach with our Under-19 team, Dawlat Ahmadzai, supported me a lot and told me I had a lot of talent and that I would go far. He gave me a lot of confidence. Otherwise, there was no coach as such who taught me the technicalities like how to hold the ball, how should the action be, how to release the ball, etc. All this came naturally to me”, said Khan.

Khan said he trains and practices without anyone trying to pick holes in what he does which has made him a self-taught competitor.

“I work on most things on my own. Like, these days I’m here for the IPL, so I train in the nets and try different variations on my own. There are some variations I’m still trying in the nets and haven’t used in matches yet. I’m working on them in the nets.

“No matter where I practise in the nets, whether in Greater Noida or Afghanistan, I work on myself on my own and I talk to the coaches about the team’s requirements. Otherwise I don’t really change my action or my bowling speed and no coach asks me to change them either”, said Khan.

Khan may have been very fortunate not to be influenced by the pompous pundits. But if there is one guide with a big reputation that Khan would have dreamed of meeting for advice, it is none other than Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralideran who works with his Sunrises team.

Muralideran, like the expert he has always been, had only one thing to make Khan buy and quite rightly it was what is called “spot bowling”or pitching the ball in the right areas to suit the occasion.

“When he saw my action and everything, he told me, “You are absolutely perfect, and you don’t need to change anything”, Khan said about Muralideran entering his life.

“He (Muralideran) talks to me about spot bowling - focus on where I want to pitch the ball, the spot I want to target. The second thing he always tells me is that I have to remain relaxed and cool even when batsmen hit me for sixes, or even if I take five-six wickets, and that I should bowl according to my plan and targets.

“What the batsmen do after that is different. You have to focus on your bowling and apart from the talent you have, you have to remain mentally strong. That’s what he (Muralideran) would tell me again and again. He has shared a lot of his experience with me and says that once you become mentally strong, it will help you in a lot of situations”.

Khan is also an extremely modest cricketer and knows that a player learns more when he fails than when he wins. He has conceded sixes and fours in the current IPL but Khan’s strong mindset has always made him comeback.

“One or two performances don’t really pull you down or make you a bad bowler. My focus is to bowl the right lengths. I bowl with that mindset”, he opined. While commentators and experts quite often pontificate which bowler should bowl what over and at what stage should he be brought on, Khan would have none of that talk. He’s ever ready to oblige his team and captain.

“I enjoy bowling in all phases. You get only four overs in a T20 match so I put in my best into each of those. A lot of times captains ask me when I’d like to bowl. So I just tell them “Whenever you need me, I’m ready to bowl, whether it’s in the beginning or at the end.” So it could be any point of time in the game - I’m always ready”, said Khan.