Pakistan’s latest bowling sensation Naseem Shah has been all over the news from the last few days and rightly so. At an age of 16, he is already locking horns with some of the best players in the world, having made his Test debut in the ongoing first Test against Australia at Gabba. At an age when most players try to find their feet in age-level cricket, Naseem Shah is intimidating batsmen with his pace.
He bowled brilliantly on Friday and troubled the likes of Joe Burns and David Warner with his extreme pace. The teenager, in fact, could have had his first wicket in just his seventh over when he had Warner edge one behind the stumps. However, replays showed that he had marginally overstepped.
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Naseem Shah, meanwhile, is also garnering attention for a reason he would not have wanted. The youngster is being accused by many of fudging his age. On paper, he is 16-years old but many believe that he is much older. Age fudging is nothing new in Pakistan cricket, On paper, Shahid Afridi was also 16 at the time of making his debut, although earlier this year he clarified in his book that he was 19 at that time.
What has further fuelled the fire is an old article. A piece published in Pakistan’s Dawn quotes West Indian fast bowling great Andy Roberts speaking about Naseem, “I must say that I very much liked a young fast bowler by the name of Naseem. He is just a 16-year-old.”
While Roberts was spot on with his assessment, the only problem was that he said the same way back in 2016 when Naseem Shah should have been 13 as per the papers. There are also tweets and YouTube videos in which, as a part of Quetta Gladiators squad, Shah is mentioned as a 17-year-old. Unsurprisingly, his age is drawing everyone’s attention.
But for the time being, no one knows what’s the truth and one can only hope that the talented youngster remains away from controversy and build on the promising start.