Spotlight on Naseer Shaukat
Naseer Shaukat, one of three brothers to play first class cricket in Pakistan, was an outstanding all round cricketer who, even now towards the end of his career, remains a very good one.
Having made his name in Pakistan as a bowling all rounder who operated at around fast medium pace, making the ball swing and lift when conditions were in the least bit favourable, and batted effectively at fifth or sixth wicket down, he became one of the most consistent batsmen in Leinster cricket, while remaining a skilful, wicket taking, new ball bowler, who often finished high in the all rounders' table in seasonal provincial records.
In first class cricket in Pakistan, mostly for Faisalabad, a city whose ground would not feature among the favourites of one particular former England captain, in the Quaid i Azam Trophy, but also for the Pakistan WPDA in the BCCP Patron's Trophy. he scored 1472 runs at 23.37 and took 125 wickets at 23.51.
His highest score, 89, came early in his career in a home match for Faisalabad against the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation. Facing a total of 202, in which Naseer had taken two wickets, Faisalabad collapsed to 68-6 before Naseer came to the wicket. He was soon - at 76-7 - joined by wicket keeper Aamer Nazir. Together they took the score to 291 before Naseer was out for 89. The match finished in a draw, the hosts having gained a first innings lead of 38.
His best bowling 7-42 came in the 1998-99 season, by which time he was already known in Irish cricket circles. Playing away against Lahore City, Faisalabad struggled for runs, owing much to Naseer who topscored with 45 at No 8, seeing the score to a barely sufficient 203, allowing the visitors to gain a slender first innings lead. However he then had the remarkable figures of 22.3-9-42-7, striking a blow against the hosts from which they never recovered.
His best season in Pakistan was 1996-97 when he was his side's leading all rounder scoring 369 runs at 33.54 in 7 matches with three 50s, besides taking 30 wickets at 22.13 with four "5 fors." The latter included a marathon performance against Karachi Whites at Karachi's National Stadium.
The hosts ran up a massive 479, in which Naseer bowled almost twice as many overs as anybody else to finish with figure of 42-7-157-5, he then made 47 helping to avoid the follow on and ensuring a draw.
He had two fine all round matches later in the season, both of which played a major role in ensuring victory. In an away match with Bahawalpur, he topscored with 70 in the visitors' first innings of 244, making his runs in 166 minutes off 133 balls. He then had match figures of 9-110 (6-51 in the first innings) to bring about a win by 88 runs.
At home against Karachi Blues he made 72 - his season highest - off 103 balls, an essential knock in a total of 184 all out. The visitors then collapsed for 84, Naseer chipping in with 3-23 in 11 overs. Then, after making a useful 22 in second innings, he finished the match off with 5-45, setting up victory by 58 runs.
In List A matches in Pakistan, he scored 802 runs at 26.65 and took 62 wickets at 23.65. While most of his matches were played for Faisalabad, his most spectacular innings came for the WPDA in a 50 over match against the National Bank of Pakistan in March 1999. The bankers had reached 252 off their 50 overs with Naseer taking 2-50 in 10 overs. Down to bat at 4 he came in with 95 on the board but his side rather behind the asking rate. They were not to be for long. Dominating the bowling, he rushed to an undefeated 93 off 69 balls with six 4s and four 6s, a strike rate of 134.78. This gained him one of the three Man of the Match awards he won in Pakistan cricket.
First appearing in Leinster senior cricket in 1995, he has by the end of the 2011 season, made 8462 runs at 38.81, the vast majority having been made for Rush, before his switch to The Hills in 2010. He has also taken 541 wickets at 17.45.
He took 43 wickets at 14.05 in his first season and two years later hit his first century in Leinster competitive cricket. Among many notable all round performances the 2001 season stands out. He aggregated 749 runs at 39.42, with one 100 and four 50s besides capturing 40 wickets at 18.75. His hundred, also the highest score he has made in Leinster competitions, came against Leinster CC when he put on 199 for the third wicket with fellow Faisalabad and WPDA all rounder Sadaat Gul, who also reached three figures. Naseer made 120 setting up victory by 86 runs, Sadaat taking 3 wickets.
Earlier in the season, both men had reached the 90s, putting on 144 for the 4th against CYM, Naseer making 95. He had prospered with the bat two years earlier, totalling 685 at 42.81 passing 50 on seven occasions, converting one such score to 109*. He also reached six 50s in the 2005 season.
His all round skills have brought him several Man of the Match awards in Irish cricket. In a Conqueror (Leinster Senior ) Cup First Round Match against Railway Union in 2004, at Kenure, he had 2-42 as Railway struggled to 160, Kenny Carroll being one of his victims. Then after two early wickets had fallen, he put the visitors bowlers to the sword finishing on a magisterial 90*.
Another award came in an Irish Senior Cup match against Downpatrick the following year, he had figures of 9.1-2-29-4 to see the Co Down side out for 185. Then coming in at No 4 again, he made 43* seeing his side to a six wickets win. He of course was also named Man of the Match by Irish coach Phil Simmons as The Hills defeated Merrion to win the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup for the first time in their history in September.
Representative cricket and Irish qualification probably came too late in Naseer's career for him to make a prolonged impact. He was also seen very much as a bowler which meant that he was not able to give full rein to his batting abilities. Nevertheless there were some useful performances in both disciplines.
In 2001 he played for the Leinster CU President's XI against an Ireland XI at Castle Avenue and was able to show his skill with the new ball removing Ireland openers Paul Davy for 0 and Andrew White for 1 to reduce them to 13-2 in reply to the LCU score of 316-5. A hundred from Andre Botha had denied Naseer the chance to bat. He did not finish his full allocation of overs, finishing with 2-27 from 8 as the Joyce brothers - Dom and Ed - together with Kyle McCallan took the score to a respectable 244-9.
Naseer also played two seasons, 2003 and 2004, for North Leinster in the Regional Challenge. he was normally able to make early inroads with the ball, but had no chances up the order to show his skill with the bat.
His 11 matches for Ireland brought him 99 runs at 16.50 and 24 wickets at 23.42. His debut was in a three day match against MCC at Limavady, a fixture arranged in preparation for the Intercontinental Cup matches against the Netherlands and Scotland which loomed on the near horizon. He was 4* when Ireland declared on 321-7, Jeremy Bray having led the way with a century, but then had Ireland's best bowling figures of 3-46 from 20 overs, dismissing former Middlesex batsman MCC captain Jason Ratcliffe with the fourth ball of the opening over. He later disposed of former Pakistani Test all rounder Asif Mujtaba for 7 and Andy Patterson, no longer in Irish colours, for a duck. MCC ended up chasing 243 in 58 overs, winning by 7 wickets. Mutjaba led the way with an undefeated 117 well supported by Victorian batsman Michael Foster who reached 80 before Naseer took a return catch.
Unfortunately, Naseer only had two other matches of real note during his spell in the side, both in the Intercontinental Cup that season. At Deventer the Netherlands were hosts on a slow wicket but with other conditions in favour of pace bowling. In their first innings, Naseer troubled the batsmen with his swing and bounce but it was his fellow new ball bowler the similarly impressive Trent Johnston who, with 4-38, made the inroads as the Dutch were bowled out for 200.
A superb innings by White enabled Ireland to declare on 388-8, whereupon Naseer came into his own. Well supported by the of spin of his captain Kyle McCallan, he returned figures of 9-2-30-5 as the Netherlands collapsed from 86-3 to 141 all out.
Naseer also had a fine all round game in the next Cup match against Scotland at Castle Avenue. Put in overcast conditions, Ireland struggled to 193 all out. Coming in at 9, Naseer topscored with 48, putting on 70 for the 8th wicket with Paul Mooney. He was particularly severe on medium pacer Dewald Nel, taking 12 off one over and was then " the pick of the Irish bowlers" (Irish Cricket Annual) in taking 5-60 in 19 overs. The visitors collapsed from 102-3 to 167 all out. That, however, was the end of Irish supremacy. A second innings of 178 left Scotland needing 204, which - in the best batting conditions of the match - they accomplished with some ease.
It must be regretted that Naseer Shaukat was not seen to greater advantage " in an Irish jersey." However from Faisalabad to Fingal, those who saw his bowling at its hostile best or watched as he took attacks apart, have memories to treasure.
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