Azeem Hafeez is an up-and-coming Pakistani fast bowler. The majority of the Pakistani bowlers faced an uphill battle to take wickets during the Australian tour. Azeem Hafeez, the 20-year-old left-arm fast bowler from Karachi, enjoyed a very successful tour. His 19 wickets in the Tests were double those of any of the other bowlers, including the much-lauded Abdul Qadir. His rise to the position of Pakistan’s premier strike bowler is even more meritorious because he has a severely deformed right hand and a resulting weaker right arm.
But Azeem Hafeez asks for no concessions. He says that Pakistani cricket selectors at all grades have selected him entirely based on his cricketing ability, including batting and fielding, and that is the only way he wants to be judged. Even at a social level, he asks to be treated like everyone else, from carrying bags to shaking with his right hand. Azeem Hafeez is like the dim, unitive Pakistan batsman.
Qasim Umar captured the imagination of the Australian public for his courageous approach and total dedication to the game. More importantly, he has won the respect of players throughout the continent for his persistent hostility and ability to bowl marathon spells. The tall, powerfully built youngster has come on in leaps and bounds since Pakistan’s former captain and current manager, Intikhab Alam, chose Azeem Hafeez in the training squad for the 1983 World Cup.
Azeem Hafeez was very surprised by his selection.” Intikhab Alam said, “But his great potential was quite clear. I said to him that if he kept working at his game, he would be in an excellent position to win a place on the Indian tour.” That turned out to be an understatement. With Imran Khan’s injury and Sarfraz Nawaz’s suspension,. Azeem Hafeez was hurriedly thrust into the role as the country’s main strike bowler on the lifeless Indian wickets. He accepted the daunting prospect with great relish. bowling for long periods and establishing himself in the team for the Australian tour.
The bowling lineup, again without Imran, was quickly labeled a ‘pop-gun’ attack, a description that Azeem didn’t take kindly to. He had the advantage of touring Australia in 1982 with the Pakistan Under-19 team, and this experience, combined with his height and strenuous physical training, saw him gain a couple of yards in pace during the first month of the tour. Besides taking his first five-wicket haul in the First Test at Perth, he also managed to place a couple of players in hospital. David Boon, the promising Tasmanian batsman, and then Rod Marsh were victims of Azeem’s unexpected pace, and the young Pakistani left-armer soon earned the respect of opposition batsmen.
Azeem Hafeez always seems to have a gentle smile on his face, but it masks a fierce determination. which, despite his denials, must, to some extent, be a result of his handicap. He sees no limits to his cricketing aspirations, and that includes fielding and batting. Commentators could quickly see his bowling potential, but they were interested to see what would happen when a catch came to him. He took a well-judged outfield catch in the Perth Test, but then in the Third Test, he dropped a sitter of Kepler Wessels. It proved a vital miss, as Wessels went from seven to 179, effectively depriving the tourists of a victory. But Azeem Hafeez still refused to accept that his deformed right hand had anything to do with it.
Azeem Hafeez, despite having a severely deformed right hand, has asked for no concessions and was recently thrust into the role of Pakistan’s main striker in Imran’s absence. was disappointed, but all players dropped catches. and in fact, I’ve dropped very few during my career.” His batting improved during the tour but is still limited. Most of his strokeplay is restricted to the on-side, but it is very correct and defiant.
Typically, he saw no reason why Geoff Lawson, Rodney Hogg, and company should spare him from the constant barrage of short-pitched bowling. Azeem’s next hurdle, after the English series, is to tackle the arduous demands of Bolton League cricket. There’s little doubt that he will take plenty of wickets, but judging by the character of the young man, he will probably score a century as well.