19-year-old Shoaib Bashir marked his debut in the second Test against India, whjich kicked off in Vizag City today, catching the eye of England captain Ben Stokes through a captivating display on social media. Stokes, known for his astute cricketing instincts, discovered Bashir as he outshone the legendary Alastair Cook in a video shared by Somerset Cricket on their social media accounts.
The young off-spinner’s journey to the national team began in the preparatory camp in Abu Dhabi, where he showcased skills that exceeded expectations. Bashir’s unique approach to off-spin bowling, coupled with his non-traditional run-up, added an element of surprise, especially considering the England skipper’s admiration for the distinctive talent.
Bashir’s rise to prominence wasn’t without its challenges, as evidenced by his modest start in the English County Championship with Somerset. His first-class debut against Essex saw him bowl 49 overs for just one wicket in a match that ended in a 196-run defeat for his team. The subsequent five matches also saw him pick up nine wickets at an average of 67, but the numbers didn’t tell the whole story.
Ben Stokes turns godfather for Shoaib Bashir
Ben Stokes, a skipper known for his unconventional approach, was quick to recognize Bashir’s potential. Despite the statistics, Stokes acknowledged the impact of Bashir’s first over in County Cricket, particularly against the seasoned Alastair Cook. The cricketing legend, who eventually scored a magnificent 128, was left bewildered by Bashir’s non-traditional delivery, providing the young spinner with the recognition he needed.
Shoaib Bashir‘s unorthodox run-up and action as an off-spinner became the talk of the town, creating an illusion for batters about the flight of the ball. Stokes, a leader who values intuition over mere statistics, wasted no time in forwarding the video to a WhatsApp group that included head coach Brendon McCullum and ECB managing director Rob Key.
Stokes shared his initial impression, saying, “Abu Dhabi was the first real live look I got at Bash. The first time I saw him was on Twitter. I think the County Championship [account] put a little clip together of him bowling against Sir Alastair. I’m in a WhatsApp group with Keysy and Baz. I actually did forward the clip on and said, ‘have a look at this, this could be something we could work with on our India tour’ and it just progressed from there. He got selected on the Lions tour, and obviously, the coaches on that tour fed back everything to us.”
Shoaib Bashir’s journey from social media sensation to England’s potential game-changer exemplifies the evolving dynamics of talent discovery in the world of cricket. The unconventional spinner now finds himself on the international stage, with the backing of the England captain and coaching staff who see beyond mere numbers to recognize raw talent and potential.