By Sandipan Banerjee
He started his cricketing journey in Lahore, before moving to New Jersey with his family. Presently, this off-spinner is regarded as one of the most talented cricketers in USA. He is Muhammad Asad Ghous, son of a former Pakistan First-Class player and the new captain of the USA national team. He expresses optimism about their cricket and chats about his journey from the streets of Lahore to the helm, in an exclusive interview with Sandipan Banerjee.
USA cricket is going through a turmoil at this moment. After the recent suspension by International Cricket Council (ICC), the future of cricket in mainland America is under serious threat. Their major hope of revival would entail improving on-field performances. In these circumstances, Muhammad Asad Ghous will be leading a young USA side in the upcoming ICC World T20 Qualifiers in Ireland and Scotland. Before leaving for this important tour, Ghous shared his thoughts with CricketCountry.
CricketCountry (CC): First of all congratulations for becoming the captain of the USA national side. So from playing ‘Gali Cricket’ in Lahore to leading an international team, how has life changed for you?
Asad Ghous (AG): Firstly, I would like to thank you for honoring me with this title of being the captain of the USA National team. I am very honored and fortunate to hold this position. This is a very important and exciting responsibility that I am looking forward to take on. From playing ‘Gali Cricket’ in Lahore to leading an international team is definitely a big change. It is one thing to be a good team player, but it is another to be a good team captain and lead the team. As a player starting from “Gali Cricket’, I have come a long way and it has been a great journey and I am ready to lead the team.
CC: Take us through the cricketing journey of your life.
AG: Taking it back to the start of my cricketing journey…I started out as a young child playing in the streets of my hometown in Lahore, Pakistan. I would start early in the morning and go to the ground with friends to play cricket without worrying about eating or drinking or any other activities. Cricket was a passion from early on in my childhood years. From that point on, I have worked my way up as I grew and became an adult. I come from a background where cricket was appreciated and I had lots of family support. Fortunately, my father also used to play local cricket and then later started playing First-Class cricket for WAPDA [Water and Power Development Authority] as a batsman. I had the benefit of my dad being a cricketer and I would always look up to him for help and support in my journey in becoming a cricketer. My father helped me train as an all-rounder. Then, later on, my family and I migrated to New Jersey, USA where I still continued my cricket passion and I made new friends who I was able to share my passion with. Along with that, I used to play tennis with friends in the nearby neighborhood.
Early years and background:
As I continued moving further in my cricket journey, I had moved to the States. Here in the States, I began my cricket journey by playing for the USA U-19 Regional’s. Then, moving up, I started to play for the nationals and later was selected in the national team for the Cricket U-19 World Cup in New Zealand. Out of all the matches I have played, the most memorable matches have been with Australia and Afghanistan in 2010. I was chosen as the Man of the Match of the USA vs Afghanistan match. Moving on, I was selected in the USA National Senior team in 2010 in which I was the youngest player. Additionally, along with keeping my cricket passion alive, also attended Rutgers University and received my bachelor’s degree in accounting, and furthermore, I plan to pursue my master’s degree in the near future. I am proud of my accomplishments in and out of the cricket field.
CC: Currently you are being regarded as one of the bright prospects of USA cricket. Do you feel captaining the team at this point of your career will put extra pressure on you?
AG: Being regarded as one of the bright prospects of the USA cricket is highly honorable. This position definitely comes with pressure but it is all about managing the pressure the right way. If the commitment and dedication is present, it is not hard to handle the pressure. Also, I would like add that I have learnt a lot about handling pressure and other tactics in cricket from the former USA captain, Steve Massiah. He taught me a lot about this game and he will always be someone I can count on for any suggestions.
CC: Your father Ghulam Ghous Chaudhary is a former First-Class player of Pakistan. So how did his guidance and support shape your career?
AG: My father is someone who I always looked up to as my idol, and he is always there for me as my biggest support system. If it was not for my father, I would not be what I am today. From my early childhood years to now, he has always been there for me, encouraging me to go further in my cricket profession, and he is always there to offer any support I may need.
CC: I heard you admire Shoaib Malik a lot? Any specific reason for this? Apart from him, who is your favorite cricketer?
Recently, I met Shoaib Malik in Barbados, and I had a few training sessions with him and I have learnt a lot in a brief time period. He is a very humble and down to earth player and that in my opinion is a great quality to have. Apart from him, my favorite cricketer is Inzamam-ul-Haq. He was always a match winner.
CC: Off the field, USA Cricket is going through a tough time at present. As captain of USA what is your opinion about the decision of ICC of banning USACA?
AG: Personally, I do not a have a say on this. In my opinion, I feel that the president and board members will be able to handle this. As a captain and team player, my goal is to perform well by focusing more on the cricket and qualifying for the World T20.
CC: Now USACA won’t receive any funds from ICC. So how will the players continue to play?
AG: Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. However, we have always managed to pull through the hard times. Our President is able to provide us with the appropriate funds in order to run the USACA program. An example of that would be, USACA has started the Women’s Cricket Program without the help of the ICC.
CC: What according to you is the solution of the current problems in USACA?
AG: This is also something that I really do not have a say on, but I feel the solution would be to regain our membership with ICC.
CC: On the field, USA have done well in North American T20 Qualifiers. Do you think they can continue their good work in ICC World T20 Qualifiers in Ireland and Scotland, especially under these circumstances? Will the players be in the right frame of mind?
AG: All the team members, including myself, have been training vigorously, individually in their hometowns. In my opinion, I feel that we will continue the good work as we approach the ICC World T20 Qualifiers in Ireland and Scotland. The players will definitely be in the right frame of mind and looking forward to moving further in the right direction.
CC: Conditions of Ireland and Scotland will be very challenging for your team. So how are you preparing for the tournament?
AG: As I stated before, the team members and I have been training hard since we have qualified for this ICC World T20 Qualifiers. Hard work definitely does pay off and we are looking forward to take upon the challenges that will come upon us. We are ready to overcome any obstacle that may come in our way. Additionally, before the actual matches begin, we have a couple of warm-up games scheduled. I feel that that these warm-up matches will really help us in understanding the conditions overall. Those warm-up matches will help in improving in any last minute mistakes that we may make.
CC: Do you think a good performance by USA in the World T20 Qualifiers can solve some of the off-field issues?
AG: A good performance by USA in the World T20 Qualifiers can be a plus in this situation, however, in my opinion, the issue is not the performance of USACA.
CC: According to you, what is the future of USA Cricket?
AG: According to myself, the future seems to be very optimistic and bright and I feel that the team will move further in the right direction. Hard work, commitment, and dedication is key in achieving these goals. Also, if ICC can establish new venues and start IPL type leagues (20-20), that will definitely help the future of the USA cricket.
(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at CricketCountry. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting, and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)
The above article is reproduced with permission from cricketcountry.com