Hasan Raza to switch international allegiances


ISLAMABAD: Hasan Raza was once the very epitome of the Pakistani dream. As a 14-year-old, he became the youngest-ever Test cricketer when he made his debut in 1996 against Zimbabwe in Faisalabad. Two decades later, things have decidedly gone downhill for the right-handed batsman. It has been more than 10 years since he last represented Pakistan in Tests and more than 15 since he played in an ODI. The 34-year-old is therefore understandably looking at pastures new. In five months’ time, he will be eligible to represent the UAE. “I am just five months away from being allowed to play for the UAE national side, and I’ve been performing in UAE’s domestic circuit for the past three years,” said Raza, who played a total of seven Tests for Pakistan. Raza is still involved in Pakistan’s domestic circuit, representing PTV in grade two of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
“I will be 35 by the time I make my debut for UAE as, according to ICC rules, an international player has to be a resident of a country for three-and-a-half years before he can switch allegiances, while it is four years for a first-class cricketer,” Raza told to a news website. “I want to play as soon as possible for UAE since I am in good form these days.” Raza, once touted as the next big thing in international cricket, said Pakistan have a lot of talent at their disposal but don’t have enough facilities.
“UAE has a lot of cricket – good grounds, good conditions and I enjoy playing for them. I have kept in touch with the UAE cricket management, and I will be able to play in April or May next year,” he added. The soon-to-be UAE international will have to leave Pakistan’s domestic cricket once he starts representing them. “I am currently playing for PTV and will continue to do so for as long as I can,” he said. Raza is not the only former Test player from Pakistan who has plans of representing the UAE. Fast-bowler Riaz Afridi, who turned out for the Men in Green in 2004, is just 10 months away from being eligible for the UAE and is also reportedly in the selectors’ plans. Raza revealed Rana Navedul Hasan – who was recently appointed as the UAE bowling coach – reached out to him.
“Rana has been in contact with me and he said the UAE need a batman like me; they still some good players but they still require a middle-order batsman,” he said.
Raza has already worn UAE colours, albeit in an unofficial match. It was a nightmare debut though in a two-day preparatory match against the West Indies during their tour of the UAE to face Pakistan. Raza was dismissed on a silver duck as West Indies ran through the UAE to leave them 20-7. “It was a tough day for us. They are a professional team, their preparation was very good, and it showed just how much hard work we need to put in if we are to improve,” said Raza, already using possessive adverbs for his adopted him. Raza may soon find himself as one of the top dogs for the minnows, but he will always be remembered as the boy who peaked too early; forever haunted by the image of his 14-year-old self achieving what he in his peak could not.