LAHORE-Newly-appointed fast bowling coach at the National High Performance Centre (NHPC), Mohammad Zahid has expressed his excitement on his return to Pakistan cricket for the first time since he left international cricket.

Zahid, 44-year-old, was regarded as one of the fastest bowlers on the international circuit in his hey days; he took 11 wickets on his Test debut against New Zealand in Rawalpindi in 1996 but unfortunately could only make a total of 16 international appearances for Pakistan due to a back injury that cut short his career. Zahid, who had been based in the UK for the last many years where he pursued a coaching career after hanging his bowling boots, wants to make a big impact at the NHPC; this will be his first-ever coaching stint with the Pakistan Cricket Board. 

Backing fully the revamped NHPC, Zahid said: “I am really looking forward to this opportunity. I want to repose the confidence the PCB management has shown in me. This is the first time that I have got a chance to work for Pakistan cricket since my playing days and I think I am ready to work in accordance with the NHPC vision. “The things that I could not achieve in my playing days due to my injury, I now want the young pacers to achieve and excel for Pakistan.” 

“What excites me further is the fact that PCB has revamped both domestic and high-performance cricket, the presence and recent induction of some all-time greats including Mohammad Yousuf, Saqlain Mushtaq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Mushtaq Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed and Waqar Younis among others is a wonderful step in the right direction for Pakistan cricket and I am thrilled and honoured to be a part of such a star-studded coaching set-up at the NHPC and the Pakistan men’s senior and junior teams,” he added. 

He brushed aside the impression that Pakistan’s glory days in the fast bowling department were a thing of the past; he feels that the current crop of bowlers has it in them to emulate the greats of the 80s and 90s. “I don’t think we have lost much on the fast bowling front, I think we have remained very fortunate that we have had fast bowlers coming through at the top-level for a long time. Punjab and Southern Punjab have rich tradition of fast bowling. Presently, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa looks like a goldmine for fast bowlers. 

“There is of course abundance of talent in the rest of the country also and my aim would be to identify, groom and harness the abilities of those bowlers. Some of the talented fast bowlers might have been lost in recent years but I still think we have a strong group of fast bowlers. I am really excited that I will get to work with them, I feel good things are set to happen and soon.” 

Zahid who took 143 wickets in his 43 match first-class career added that the new role was a big responsibility on his shoulders and his aim is to make full use of his playing and coaching experience in his new role. “It’s a big role and I have to elaborate plans that I want to implement in the area of my specialization. I have learned and adopted coaching skills during my time in the UK and I feel I am fully prepared to implement them in Pakistan in what is an incredibly exciting time in our cricket. As time progresses, I would reveal them with an aim of having all stakeholders on the same page.”