Thursday, 23 March, 2023

‘Standard of PSL is lot higher than all other leagues’

Z. Azam

Pakistani speedster Haris Rauf is enjoying his maiden Bangladesh Premier League stint at Rangpur Riders’ camp this year. The 29-year-old pacer has been a prolific wicket-taking option in franchise cricket across the world and he has delivered it with his sheer pace and cunning bowling variations time and time again. Haris on Wednesday talked to The Daily Sun regarding several topics including his journey in cricket, his stint with Melbourne Stars, his practice mantra and his thoughts on the future of high-pace bowling, etc.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:
The Daily Sun: Do you still have that practice of checking your calories before and after every practice session?
Haris Rauf: Whenever you are on diet, you must know what you are eating. Before the match and after the match, you must know how to recover and the needs of your body. You also need to know how much you need to train and how much diet you have to intake and what calories you need to take before the match and what protein you need to take after the match because the body obviously needs protein. So you have to manage all the things and as a player, there is a diet plan for me.
The Daily Sun: Heard about your eating 24 eggs at a time? Is it true?
Haris Rauf: Yes, it’s true. When I used to do training in the academy of Lahore Qalandars where I started my cricket at that point I used to have it (24 eggs in a day). But nowadays I don’t have so many (eggs). I eat eggs now but not in that quantity. I need it at that point because you need to have protein to gain muscles (for becoming a fast bowler). Because protein could be gained through having eggs and that is why I used to have it a lot at that point.
 The Daily Sun: When you went to Australia in 2019, it was stitched 150kmph on your shoes? Many feel you had it because you wanted to bowl at that pace and it always reminded you of your goal. Do you still have that in your boot?
Haris Rauf: Yes, 150 was written on my shoes. Even now when I take the bowling mark to bowl, I write 150 at my bowling mark. It boosts me up that I need to bowl fast. The 150 is close to my heart because I was selected (for Lahore Qalandars) for bowling a delivery at 150 and so 150 is with me since 2017. At that point, Aquib bhai said that your shirt number in PSL will be 150.
 The Daily Sun: Melbourne Stars had given you a lot and made your career to some extent. So how disappointing was it to lose the World Cup final at the MCG?
Haris Rauf: Certainly I have played a lot for Melbourne Stars and they helped my career to shape up. David Hussey made me understand a lot of things and I tried to learn as much as possible from him like the condition there and how to assess it and I have got a certain level of experience. Our bowling line-up did well in the World Cup but unfortunately, we couldn’t do that in the final. England played well and won the game but we tried. Look, it hurts because I had a chance to win the World Cup for my country and it was a close match. It was disappointing considering our countrymen were expecting us to win the World Cup. Unfortunately, our team played well but we lost and that is a past now.
 The Daily Sun: You are from Rawalpindi like Shoaib Akhtar. Is there any connection between you and him? He also tried to bowl fast like you.
 Haris Rauf: Look in Pakistan, most of the bowlers bowl around from 140 plus to 150 and it is something that is in our genes and that is why so many pace bowlers are produced in Pakistan. I and Shoaib bhai are from Rawalpindi and whenever I meet Shoaib bhai, he supports me and gives me tips on how to keep me fit and how to bowl fast.
The Daily Sun: When Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee were bowling, there was a discussion about who will bowl at 100 miles per hour (161 KMPH) but nowadays there is no such discussion. Do you feel nowadays it is something that no one dreams of?
Haris Rauf: Look at that point, there is not so much cricket and it was just international cricket and today when you are getting free from international cricket, you get into different cricket leagues. Look, playing so many back-to-back cricket matches means the body does not get enough rest and within this circuit if you can maintain a reasonable pace, I feel it is good. Cricket was different at that point but now the body gets fatigued and does not react in the same manner and that is probably the reason 100 miles cannot be crossed.
Every player has a different goal and my goal is to not reduce my current pace and just to maintain that.
The Daily Sun: Whenever you are hit for a six or four, why have you always seen putting your hands on your head itching through your hair?
Haris Rauf: Somehow it (hand) goes into my head and every bowler gets hit but in my mind what I feel is that I bowled a bad ball and I should bowl a better delivery next time and that means bowling a faster delivery.
The Daily Sun: What prompted you to join Melbourne Stars instead of Hobart Hurricanes for BBL in 2019 considering it changed your whole life? You could join Hurricanes but at the last moment, you changed your mind.
Haris Rauf: Look I had a whole season contract for Hurricanes while in Stars I had a contract for only two matches. I was seeing it as an opportunity. I wanted to avail the opportunity and bowled well in two matches. Later they gave me a contract for the whole season.
The Daily Sun: You got five wickets at the MCG and that included a hat-trick and everyone started noticing you. How was it playing at the MSG and that game in particular that perhaps gave the birth of a young fast bowler?
Haris Rauf: The MCG is one of the best grounds in the world and it has a long history. I idolize Dale Steyn and he was there and he made me understand a lot of things and how the Melbourne cricket ground behaves. He said if you can do well, it can be a memory for you and I picked up a hat-trick and to date, it is one of the most treasured memories of mine.
The Daily Sun: How important is managing the workload for pace bowlers and do you feel a break is becoming imperative with the entire cricket around?
 Haris Rauf: Obviously with time, if you feel that your body is going down, you can take a break so that you can make a good comeback. You need to look after the body and make sure it is recovered well. Look, after the match, recovery is very important like what you will eat and how much you need to sleep and these things help you go forward.
 The Daily Sun: You love Kadak Chai (Hot tea) and Nandos Chicken a lot when you were in Australia and you had gone for that at the expense of trying out at Pakistani and Indian Restaurants? Why was that?
 Haris Rauf: Look there (in Australia) getting Halal food was kind of a problem and Nandos chicken was Halal and so I went for it and more so there was protein in the chicken.   
The Daily Sun: Unfortunately there is no Nandos here.
Haris Rauf: No worries. There are other good foods here.
The Daily Sun: How is the standard of BPL?
Haris Rauf: It’s a good competition and every team is balanced here. Our team is very good and takes care of us in every possible way.
The Daily Sun: If we want you to compare BPL with PSL, where will you keep it?
Haris Rauf: Look, through PSL a lot of cricketers are produced in Pakistan. Some foreign players played in the PSL and later played for their countries. Look, the cricket in PSL is very competitive and there you will get every bowler bowling over 140kmph speed. The bowling competition is very high and when foreign players play in PSL and later go into international cricket, it doesn’t turn out to be a problem for them to play international cricket considering they have faced good bowling in PSL. I think the standard of PSL is a lot higher than all other leagues.
The Daily Sun: You came through the PSL pacer hunt for Lahore Qalandars. How was the journey?
Haris Rauf: I didn’t play any club cricket and just participated in the trial and after being selected in the trial my cricket started.
The Daily Sun: How do you see Bangladeshi pacers like Taskin and Mustafizur?
Haris Rauf: Taskin Ahmed is bowling very well and I feel he is a big asset for the Bangladesh cricket team. He is a good bowler and the effort he puts into the ground is seen by everyone. Most importantly he plays cricket with his heart. I think he is one of the best bowlers in Bangladesh cricket. There are other good bowlers also and they need to be groomed for the future.
The Daily Sun: Do you feel pace bowlers are compromising with their pace due to all T20 leagues and now are more inclined in variations?
Haris Rauf: Look in world cricket, there are different shots and bowlers need to have variations to survive. You have to look at the pitch and how it is behaving and if it demands slower deliveries, as a bowler you should go maximum deliveries as slower balls so that it is difficult for the batsman.
The Daily Sun: With the pace you have will you do the same and won’t it hurt your ego?
Haris Rauf: The way the wicket behaves you have to prepare accordingly and go accordingly and there is nothing like having an ego because you have to win the game for your team.