Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dad Helped Get Me Here, Says Shahzad

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dad Helped Get Me Here, Says Shahzad

Article excerpt

Byline: David Clough

AJMAL Shahzad will begin to repay his father properly - for the lifelong work ethic he has instilled in him - if he makes his Test debut for England at Old Trafford this week.

Shahzad has a favourite's chance of inching out his fellow Yorkshireman Ryan Sidebottom for a place in the team to face Bangladesh on the other side of the Pennines tomorrow.

The 24-year-old still recalls hours spent on extra study during his private-school education in Bradford, while his friends were out playing football, and a successful battle against the bulge as an overweight teenager.

Shahzad's studies resulted in nine GCSEs and four A-levels - and although he eventually had to choose cricket over his university career, and that of a badminton international too, he believes the discipline of his early years has helped him to the verge of Test cricket.

For that, he thanks his father Mohammed - a cricket enthusiast who has already seen his son make history as the first British-born Asian to play for his native Yorkshire.

"My dad's had to work very hard to put me through private schools, and I've put a lot of hard hours in," said the pacebowling all-rounder. "When everybody else was out playing football at 13, 14, 15, I was doing homework and extra study.

"It was tough, but I'm reaping the rewards now. I owe my dad massively."

Shahzad has had his own choices to make on his way from chubby teenager to a bustling bowler who can expect to fare well against Bangladesh if he is unleashed on a surface with a recent tradition of pace and bounce.

"I was quite a hefty lad when I was younger, quite a big unit - at 15, I probably weighed about 14 or 15 stones," he said. "So I've had to work hard to get to where I am."

It was a handful of years later that Shahzad decided he was going to devote his energies solely to cricket.

He continued: "Education was the route for me. I loved it and was quite a bright lad - I still am. Before my cricket took off, I played badminton (up to England Under-18s). But that used to give me a bad back, so it was kind of a toss-up between badminton and cricket.

"My dad loved cricket, so he pushed me down that avenue. …

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