The rediscovery and remaking of Raza Hasan

Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by chandtara, Nov 14, 2017.

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  1. chandtara

    chandtara Mr Cricistan

    Jun 18, 2011
    Raza Hasan reacts after taking a wicket off his first over AFP

    In July 2011, as an 18 year-old, like a hero, he defended 16 runs (going 6, wicket, 1, 0, 0, 0) with his left-arm spin in the Super Over of a final against Karachi Dolphins, to lead Rawalpindi Rams to a sensational title victory. He had taken three cheap wickets earlier in the match, in Karachi's 20 overs.

    A year later, now 19, he was in the national team, a surprise package at the 2012 World T20. Against South Africa, he announced himself to the world, opening the bowling (and having Hashim Amla dropped by Kamran Akmal in that first over) and then bowling a maiden to Jacques Kallis in his next over. He would go on to play six more T20s and an ODI but in that period he was an undisputed prospect, the surefire next big thing for Pakistan.

    That same year, while playing in a domestic T20 game, he injured a disc in his spine, a potentially career-threatening injury. It forced him to miss a dream tour of India.

    But he returned, four months later, and as good as he had looked before the injury. It didn't take long for him to storm back to national attention, with eight wickets at just 13.0 in the 2013-14 National T20 Cup.

    He was young, shrewd beyond his years, agile in the field, and with all prospects ahead of him over the age of 32. Ahead of him were Ajmal, and the left-arm spinning duo of Abdur Rehman and Zulfiqar Babar so this wasn't going to be easy. He could easily have been history, yet another young prospect lost to a combination of injury and unfortunate timing.

    He did eventually return to Pakistan's limited-overs plans, playing another couple of T20s and an ODI ahead of the 2015 World Cup. He didn't make the cut for the squad and then, that same year, his career and life would be irrevocably changed.

    During the Pentangular 50-over Cup in Karachi, he was taken for a dope test. He tested positive for a banned substance. He was asked to appear before an inquiry for an opportunity to defend himself. He didn't and was banned for two years. Even before this there had been signs he was being reckless with his career and this time, it was done. It was over.

    And then he all but disappeared down a black hole. Nobody knew where he was between 2015 and 2017. According to some reports he slumped back into a miserable existence between his hometown Sialkot and Lahore, moving with company that wasn't right. His family was concerned. "He has no direction in life and he doesn't listen to us," his father, the man responsible for getting him into the game, away from kite-flying and snooker, once told ESPNcricinfo. He was still playing cricket but on the streets. He had no access to the lush green grounds maintained by the PCB. He wasn't allowed to enter the National Cricket Academy (NCA). Everything cricket had given him, a social network and the sense of entitlement that comes with being an elite athlete, all of it was gone.

    Raza Hasan celebrates the wicket of Shane Watson ICC/Getty

    This was Raza Hasan.

    On Sunday, Raza Hasan was picked up by Lahore Qalandars for the third season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).


    One evening in May this year, Aaqib Javed, the former fast bowler, coach and now director of cricket operations with Lahore Qalandars, saw a hard-up looking boy standing just outside the NCA's main entrance.

    "I saw this boy wearing dirty clothes and torn shoes, but there was still some mischief on his face," Aaqib told ESPNcricinfo. "I stopped and realised it was Raza Hasan, a sensational prospect for Pakistan when I left for the UAE coaching job in 2012.

    "I called him over and asked, 'What have you done with yourself?' He had a lot of complaints about his life, whining about so many things. I picked him up and took him to our Lahore Qalander academy in Lahore.

    "His ban was over by then but no one was accepting him back as he was in a terrible state, broken badly, and he required extensive rehabilitation which he could not afford to do on his own."

    Hasan was born in Sialkot, a city with as rich a tradition of cricket as any in Pakistan. It is famed for its sporting goods industry of course, and cricket equipment is among the first toys a child gets. It isn't a big city but it has a competitive club circuit so it isn't easy to come through. The cricket fraternity is close-knit and the sporting goods industry is a major sponsor of players and local tournaments.

    Over the years it has also become a steady supplier of talent to domestic and international cricket. Its T20 side, the Sialkot Stallions, were among the most successful T20 sides in the world, having won five consecutive T20 cups in Pakistan from 2006, during which time they had a winning streak of 25 consecutive games. Hasan grew up around this glory, around players like Shoaib Malik, Mansoor Amjad, Shahid Yousuf - all heroes of the city.

    But he was also one of the few to fall out of that fraternity, losing his entire support structure around him until Aaqib found him. He was in an especially bad way then, Aaqib suggesting that the positive dope test was not just a one-off but part of a longer, broader descent.

    Raza Hasan runs in to bowl AFP

    "The best thing when I found him was that his passion for cricket was still alive. But unfortunately he was struggling to find his way back and I blame the bad company he was keeping.

    "He wants to revive himself but on his own terms and that wasn't possible. I had a lengthy argument with him about this, but I have my own problem - I couldn't resist myself by not helping.

    "It was really tough because he was addicted to many bad things which he had to leave. He promised that he would but he wasn't always honest about it. We spent a lot of money on his rehabilitation but on a few occasions he ditched us. I had to kick him out from our academy a few times to make him realise the importance of what we are doing for him. We had promised to help him revive his career and give him back what he lost over the years."

    At his peak, Hasan could have played for any domestic side though he ultimately remained loyal to National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). But after the positive test he lost his contract and so, the very first thing Aaqib did was to convince NBP to take him back. They did and are unlikely to be regretting it. He returned to first-class cricket this season by picking up
    12 wickets against Faisalabad in his first match back - in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy so far, he has 32 wickets in 7 games with three five-fors.

    For now Hasan seems serious about his rehabilitation. According to Aaqib, he doesn't even carry a mobile phone anymore, mainly because he wants to cut all links from his previous life.

    "It was tough to convince him that he needs to focus and that his old company won't help him," Aaqib said. "It took some time for him to realise and this is why we came to this common ground that he will not have a mobile phone."

    Aaqib will have his hands full because soon, through the PSL, Hasan will be firmly back in the limelight.
  2. godzilla

    godzilla Talented

    May 12, 2016
    another failure of the pcb to properly cater for these street kids with talent, most likley because of the moral fortitude of the management teams over the year. but kudos to aqib, even if raza doesnt make it back, he may well have saved someones life - he deserves copious praise for that, a successful Pakistani player is a bonus.
  3. s_h_a_f

    s_h_a_f Tracer Bullet

    Dec 26, 2011
    Excellent read. PCB buffoons would have left him to rot.
  4. ComradeVenom

    ComradeVenom Tracer Bullet

    Jul 24, 2012
    PCB can only do so much. He was a drug addict and his own family couldn't control him. The only way out for him was if he consciously chose to avoid drugs and criminals.
  5. Mohsin

    Mohsin Cornered Tiger

    Feb 21, 2010
    Massive respect to Aqib Javed
  6. Dare2Dream

    Dare2Dream Talented

    May 4, 2010
    Hope he does justice to all Aqib has done for him. Many former cricketers have opinions that don't always match up with any effort, Aqib is an exception.
  7. Disco Lemonade

    Disco Lemonade Design Artist

    Dec 17, 2009
    He was an impressive talent, I saw him restricting Indian top order and dismissing them in his initial t20s. Was very disappointed when I heard he got into drugs. Hope he comes back strong.
  8. Prince Pathan

    Prince Pathan Cornered Tiger

    Aug 31, 2011
    Best spinner in Pakistan bar none, wont have any issue making the team again. Problem is that character deela hai and he is one that would need to be closely monitored. Reformed druggies do not need much to get back into old habits.
  9. godzilla

    godzilla Talented

    May 12, 2016
    was one of the best before injury. who knows if he still has it..
  10. thair9999

    thair9999 Youngsta Beauty

    Oct 17, 2010
    Greatness by Aaqib, no its Hassan's turn to become great.
  11. Disco Lemonade

    Disco Lemonade Design Artist

    Dec 17, 2009
    Out of curiosity, what was he addicted to? Charas, Mary j, hash? Or was it as bad as cocaine or heroine?
  12. Ahson8

    Ahson8 Sultan of Swing

    Jun 9, 2012
  13. chandtara

    chandtara Mr Cricistan

    Jun 18, 2011
    Back from oblivion: Raza Hasan aims to make Lahore Qalandars victorious in PSL

    KARACHI: Coming out from oblivion, Pakistani spinner Raza Hassan has set his eyes on making a comeback to the national side after completing his two-year ban over failing a dope test.

    Raza, now 25, was picked by Pakistan Super League (PSL) team Lahore Qalandars for the next edition of PSL and the bowler is aiming to make Qalandars successful in the tournament next year.

    “Lahore Qalandars have done a lot for me and it is now my responsibility to do everything for Qalandars in PSL,” Raza said while talking to
    Not too long ago, Raza was considered as one of the most effective spinners in the world, but then he disappeared. An injury followed by a ban of two years for failing a dope test pushed him into oblivion.

    The story of the 25-year-old left-arm spinner is different from the stories of most cricketers. His career – though short – gave a glimpse of a proper future prospect.

    But unfortunate incidents, injury and company that he shouldn’t have kept dented his future badly and almost threw him into the middle of nowhere.

    Raza launched his professional career in 2008 by playing for Pakistan Customs in the National One Day Cup. He played only one match of the season.

    He first came into the limelight in 2011, when he came to deliver a super over during the National T20 tournament final for Rawalpindi and defended 16 runs off the super over against Karachi’s team.

    Next year, in 2012, he was included in Pakistan’s squad to face Australia in a three-match T20I series in the United Arab Emirates and made an impressive debut with bowling figures of 2 for 15 in 4 overs. On debut, he took the wickets of David Hussey and Matthew Wade.

    He was retained in Pakistan’s squad for the World T20 as a surprise package and successfully managed to surprise opponents with his disciplined bowling.

    Although Raza wasn’t able to take any wickets in his maiden ICC event, he made the top batsmen struggle against his bowling to launch himself in the international arena as a threatening spinner.

    He would have taken a wicket on his first over of his first ICC event match, against South Africa, but he was deprived of the chance as Kamran Akmal dropped Hashim Amla.

    In the second over of the same match, he made Jacques Kallis look clueless and delivered a maiden over.

    Raza continued to impress with his extraordinary bowling talent in the World T20 with superb spells against India and Australia in the later matches

    Following his superb performance in World T20, Raza was being accepted as Pakistan’s future prospect, but unfortunately, a back injury soon after World T20 halted his journey.

    He made a comeback and looked good to keep himself in contention, played three T20Is and an ODI before World Cup 2015. However, he was not retained for Pakistan’s World Cup squad.

    Then came his downfall, in 2015, Raza – while playing a domestic tournament – was tested positive for a banned substance, and, subsequently banned from all forms of cricket for two years.

    The ban sent Raza to darkness, he was not allowed to use cricketing facilities under PCB, he was not allowed to play any competitive cricket and he was not allowed to train with other players.

    The ban almost brought his career to an end, but luckily he met Lahore Qalandars’ Director Cricket Operations Aqib Javed.

    “A few months ago, I was coming out of NCA and I saw a cricketer, who looked like a known face to me but he wasn’t in good condition,” Aqib told of how he rediscovered Raza Hasan.

    And, after exchanging a few words, Aqib took him to Lahore Qalandars training facilities.

    “I knew that Raza had the potential and I wanted to give him a second chance. He surely deserves a chance. The only crime I would have never forgiven is match-fixing and a dope offender deserves to make a comeback,” said Aqib, when asked him what convinced him to invest in Raza.

    The former Pakistan bowler added that at Lahore Qalandars training facility, Raza was provided all facilities to help him regain his lost touch and also to make him realise how important is to carry himself as a good individual.

    “Just to make sure that Raza stays away from bad company, we didn’t allow him to use the phone. We disconnected him from his past so that he could concentrate on his future,” Aqib said.

    “I am glad that Raza has realised his mistakes and he’s now determined to make a strong comeback,” said Aqib.

    Raza himself says that he went through a learning phase and is stronger than before.

    “The two-year ban was very heavy on me and it taught me a lot. I have recovered from my past and now look forward to performing at every opportunity,” Raza told
    Raza made an impressive comeback this season after completing his ban. He took 32 wickets at an average of 25.90 with three 5-wickets hauls in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

    Raza has credited Lahore Qalandars for his recovery.

    “I am thankful to Lahore Qalandars, specially Atif bhai (Rana Atif, CEO of Lahore Qalandars) and Aqib bhai (DCO of Lahore Qalandars) for giving me the opportunity to train. Working at LQ academy with Aqib bhai has helped me improve my fitness a lot,” he said.

    Raza has set his eyes on PSL as the platform to relaunch his career.

    “A lot of players have emerged after performing in PSL, and I am confident that I will perform in PSL and will make a comeback to the national side,” he added.

    Aqib Javed is also hopeful that Raza will be Lahore Qalandars’ trump card in the upcoming PSL season.

    “He has the unique ability of remaining equally effective with the new and old ball, he has got the natural turn in his bowling which can destroy any good batting line,” said Aqib.

    “He’s going to be our key player during PSL,” said the former cricketer.

    For Lahore Qalandars, giving Raza another chance meant contributing positively to Pakistan's cricket.

    “I think it’s great to see Qalandars making contribution and helping someone to contribute positively,” said Lahore Qalandars’ COO Sameen Rana while talking to

    Rana says he was always aiming to have Raza Hasan in the squad but couldn’t find him due to the ban and he’s glad to have him in the side.

    “I have been asking about him since the first edition of PSL as I saw him playing for Pakistan and felt that he is the best spinner at the time, I asked PCB and Ijaz bhai (the former LQ coach) and they told me he is banned,” Rana said.

    “Once Aqib bhai found him I was really happy to have him and always planned to pick him first in the silver round,” he said when asked he chose him for Lahore Qalandars squad.

    Sameen added that he’s confident that Raza will become a good person.

    “He got the second chance that not many people get, so in that regard, he is very lucky. Now with PSL, I think by performing at that level he can make a comeback. He has got something to look forward to in his life,” Rana added.

    For now, Rana and Aqib are confident that Raza will not only perform well for Lahore Qalandars, but will also remain disciplined.

    Raza has also promised that.

    “Lessons learned, I will prove myself as a changed person, as a good boy,” Raza promised.

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