UAE’s Rameez Shahzad believes he’s a better batsman now than he was in May when he flew out to England for a short-term club spell.
The 30-year-old played 25 matches in the space of four months for Philadelphia Cricket Club as he tested himself against English opposition in the Durham Cricket League.
Shahzad is a key member of the national team, scoring more than 800 international runs, so it was no surprise he let the bat do the talking in style for Philadelphia.
He made an instant impact by scoring a half-century on his debut and by the time he left for Dubai earlier this month, Shahzad had nine fifties and one century to his name. He could have added to that tally but had to return to the UAE to prepare for the Asia Cup qualifiers in Malaysia at the end of this month.
Yet, the fact that he impressed in the north east of England is no shock. He spent time in the UK earlier in his career when he studied in the region playing for Sunderland and South Shields in the Premier League.
And Shahzad believes the time at the crease has helped him develop his all-round game which he can start putting to practice for the UAE in Kuala Lumpur.
“It was an amazing experience for me as a cricketer,” said Shahzad. “In England, the conditions are very difficult because the weather changes constantly and is very unpredictable. It’s quite rare to find conditions that are half decent for batsmen. With so much grass and the ball swinging in all different directions, you have to be focused.
“I think the one thing I have learnt is that you can’t switch off. When you’re batting on a perfect track there are times where you can switch off and just keep going. But in England, that is not the case. Even if you score a hundred, even if you do one bad shot, you will get out. You really have to grasp the situation and be awake in all the innings.”
He added: “My footwork has also improved and that helps me get more runs for the team which will be good for my development and the UAE national team.”
Shahzad said he is always open to returning to Philadelphia for another stint after praising their hospitality during his stay.
“I would love to go back and play for them again,” he said. “I really enjoyed myself there and they are a great bunch of lads with whom I enjoyed playing cricket with every week.”
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