ABU DHABI: Ignored in Pakistan and recognised in Abu Dhabi, Abdul Haq dreams of playing for the national cricket team and using the game to send out to the world a message of peace.
Haq, 27, hails from drone-hit North Waziristan’s Mirali region and is a fast bowler. He works as a heavy-duty vehicle driver-cum-supervisor at a local construction company in Abu Dhabi, where he caught the eye of the Pakistan cricket team management. He has now been called to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore to be groomed and possibly represent the national team.
Haq stood in the stands, watching Pakistan’s squad practicing for the second test against South Africa in Abu Dhabi. He was called in to bowl to the batsmen and bowled some extraordinary spells. “I was called by [Pakistan coach] Waqar Younis – who gave me the title of Tagray Pathan (strong pathan) – to bowl to his batsmen. I felt honoured and extremely encouraged when the batsmen seemed to struggle against my bowling,” Haq said. “Younis and [bowling coach] Aqib Javed really appreciated me and later, team manager Intikhab Alam took down my contact details and invited me to the NCA.”
Haq has played with frontline Pakistan bowler Umar Gul in Peshawar but complained that due to the situation in North Waziristan, he never got proper guidance. “When I was 19, I played at the zonal and regional levels and even participated in the Pepsi fast bowling camp in Pakistan. But my talent wasn’t recognised by selectors and I was pushed back into my uncertain life,” Haq says.
Alam said that Haq was very impressive in the nets and demonstrated a lot of pace. “I wonder why, despite being very talented, he was ignored in Pakistan. However, observing his potential, I have noted down his contact details and invited him to the NCA,” he said.
Haq’s native town has been devastated by drone attacks and regularly appears in the news for its links to militancy. The drones are infamous for causing civilian casualties and Haq is proof of that: he lost his cousin Tariq Aziz in a strike two years ago, soon after Aziz had married Haq’s sister.
Forced to move to Abu Dhabi to make a living, Haq’s love for cricket never diminished and he continued to play at the Abu Dhabi Gymkhana where he was named the bowler of the season. “My father had a transport business but with conditions worsening in Waziristan, we were beset with a myriad of financial problems. So I opted to move to Abu Dhabi and work here,” Haq told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2010.