Yasir Arafat – Unlikely Professional

Yasir Arafat is not exactly a prominent name amidst the superstars that ply their trade in competitions that are now sprawled across the globe today. Yet he has built a solid reputation based around reliability of executing accurately with control over variations of pace. Amazingly he is at times overlooked by his own national team and the IPL (for other reasons players are unable to control).

Over several Australian summers, Yasir has been a significant contributor to the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League. When called upon for the needs of a super over, the composure and expertise was completely world class in bewildering a red hot Steve Smith that knocked the wind from the Sydney Sixers.

T20 megastars in Aaron Finch and Alex Hales have been the victims at times when it really counted early in the innings for the Scorchers to take advantage of the match situation.

Finch fooled by Arafat with slower, wider ball

Hales unable to handle the full ball from Arafat

Recently while at Sussex while being part of the Middlesex CCC coaching group in a 2nd XI match played at Brighton, the opportunity presented itself to view Yasir at close range.

Sussex have been tremendous benefactors of his extraordinary skills since he debuted with the Sharks in 2006 after being discovered while in Scotland. Arafat is now the leading T20 bowler in the history of English cricket. Overall he has taken 219 wickets in his career from 171 matches.

“He is a calm man who takes pressure well,” said Sussex cricket manager, Mark Robinson.

In Brighton last week, as the match in progress resumed after lunch on the third day, the glorious weather had continued as the mercury pushed beyond the 30 celsius range. It did appear quite natural for any cricketer from Australia or Pakistan to be active in these conditions.

Being able to observe Arafat from close range was a delight in appreciation of the skill level in a cricketer many would regard as non descript, yet his impact is often meaningful.

Yasir is not large in stature, but very well compiled for his height. He is broad across the shoulders with a strong core and appears to glide across the ground when he moves. Dimensionally one would estimate around the 184cm and 76kg mark overall. A box of white Kookaburra balls at various stages of their 20 over deterioration at the side.

The length of his run up and the tracking to the crease, a synchronised blend of rhythm and balance of about 20 metres. At around the half way point he is reaching optimum speed, arms effortlessly flowing as the stride lengthens, his upper torso gently straining forward.

Then the most smoothest of load up actions flows as a liquid form, the perfect arc of the arm the result. Arm speed is achieved from the formation with minimal effort as the wrist snaps at release.

Such perfection in the action needs little tinkering or alteration. His point of difference being able to introduce subtle changes of angle or pace that deceive the willow wielder into error. This went on for the next thirty minutes without any jocularity or wasting of the contest. Even though he had the batsman in contortions at times, most of the stumps being hit at stages, at no stage did Yasir deviate from his concentration of executing as he wanted.

Next time when you stumble across a T20 match somewhere as a seemingly innocuous right arm medium fast bowler in Arafat is thrown the ball around the fifth over mark, just pause for a moment to examine the outcome of the contest. He is pure, validated quality with the proven ability to have clarity in the contest.


About Andrew Walton

Cricket exposure as a player, coach, fan, observer, analyst & tragic! Coached at Melbourne Cricket Club, Prahran Cricket Club. Premiership player and coach at South Yarra Cricket Club ~ Home of The Vincibles! Academy coach at Karnataka Institute of Cricket, Bangalore.
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