Abbas has had a long journey. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
Abbas has had a long journey. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

Pakistan’s sleeping giant to terrorise Australia

You've heard of batsmen who sleep with their bats, but what about the fast bowler who sleeps on the pitch?

No matter what lies ahead for the world's most underestimated Test cricketer at the Gabba on Thursday the good thing for crafty Pakistan swing bowler Mohammad Abbas is that he won't have to sleep on the pitch to get a game.

Life wasn't always so grand.

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Abbas has had a long journey. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
Abbas has had a long journey. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

 

 

Abbas went to a school in the industrial city of Sialkot in Pakistan where there was just one cricket pitch and whoever go there first in the morning got to claim it and play their match on it.

"I love cricket. We had just one pitch with too many teams,'' Abbas told Crincinfo.

"Sometimes I slept on the pitch so that I could be the first one on it and my teammates got to play.''

While Abbas's 16-year-old fast bowling teammate Naseem Shah has dominated the headlines this week, Abbas' story has a charm all of its own.

Watch him in the nets bowling his 135km/h dibbly dobblies and you would never pick him for having one of the best bite-sized Test records in Test history - 66 wickets at 18 apiece from 14 matches.

 

Travis Head falls to Abbas in 2018 in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images
Travis Head falls to Abbas in 2018 in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images

 

 

The Australian team against whom he took a staggering 17 wickets at 10.59 last time he faced them in Dubai swear they felt as if they were in a wrestling match - fastened in a choker hold which simply could not be prised loose.

He took their breath away, not through mesmeric brilliance as is the Pakistani way, but by denying them oxygen ball after ball, over after pinpoint over.

"When you played forward it felt as if you should be playing back and when you played back you felt you should be forward - he was all over us,'' one batsman said.

Abbas was never one of the glamour boys of Pakistan cricket. He has worked as a welder and in a leather factory and even in the court system in his home city.

Talent scouts who went to watch him never felt they were viewing the next Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis.

He does not have Shoaib Akhtar's hair, Waqar's pace or Akram's presence - but he takes wickets.

In a world where extravagance and funkiness are kings, Pakistan's sleeping giant has proved that the game's basic truth is still the same as what it was a century ago - if you can wobble the ball around on an immaculate line and length you can conquer the world.