KARACHI: Becoming a wicket-keeper was a tall order for Shakeel Ansar, according to his colleagues, coaches as well as critics.
Being over six feet tall, the Sialkot Stallions’ wicket-keeper proved them wrong by not only starring in his team’s triumphant Super Eight T20 Cup campaign but also succeeding in being part of the national squad. He used to be called ‘insane’ and ‘destroyer of his own career’, but in just under three weeks, Ansar looks set to take the field with the rest of the Pakistan side.
“People used to make fun of me and tell me that I was ruining my life by opting to become a wicket-keeper,” Ansar told The Express Tribune. “Due to my height, they said I won’t be able to keep wickets on the low-bounce pitches of Pakistan. Today, I’ve proved them wrong because of the self-belief and a captain like Shoaib Malik. He gave a new dimension to my game by sending me up the order and allow me to show my potential with the bat.”
Ansar, who used to get beaten up by his mother as he insisted on spending time playing cricket, got married two months ago and believes his wife has come into his life as a good-luck charm. He was restricted to the bench for the whole first-class season as Zulqarnain Haider was preferred with the gloves in the ZTBL side. His stats are not all that impressive – a single century and five half-centuries across all formats – but his unbeaten century in the Twenty20 semi-final against Peshawar Panthers forced the selectors to overlook his mediocre show.
“My century was what made a huge impact and I knew that I would be in the running for a place in the national side. I wasn’t given a single game by ZTBL despite doing well and I’m sure if it was someone else, he would’ve quite cricket altogether.”
The Sialkot-born started off as a fast-bowler, gradually realising he was not that good before Rashid Latif inspired him to take up the gloves.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.