Asif Mujtaba (third from left sitting) with the Pakistan team.

Exclusive Interview

Asif Mujtaba has played 25 Tests and 66 ODIs for Pakistan, before moving to the USA. asked him to reflect on his career, offer advice to young batsmen and sought his view on cricket worldwide.

Since moving to Texas in the USA, have you played any competitive cricket? If so, for which team?
I played and am still playing in the North Texas Cricket Association League for Eagles Cricket Club. Initially I also played for Carrollton Cricket Club and few games with Dallas County Cricket Club.

Asif Mujtaba (third from left), in 1994, then vice-captain on Pakistan at a press conference with Mohammad Azharuddin of India in Sri Lanka.

What do you miss most about international cricket?

At this time I am missing the quality of International cricket, as I don’t get to play alongside many world class players, as I used to in the past.

Tell us about the over where you took 16 runs off Australian Steve Waugh’s bowling
My team needed 17 runs to win, it was the last over and I was on the non-striker’s end. While standing there, it seemed to be all over in my opinion. Mushtaq Ahmed was facing and he scooped the ball in the air and was caught, but while the ball was in the air, we crossed and changed ends. The second ball of the over I hit for a four, the third ball I hit straight to long-off and I was looking for two runs to keep the strike, but Aqib Javed did not respond, so once again I was the non-striker. It was then three balls to go and we needed 12 runs to win. On the fourth ball Aqib hit a four, and on the fifth ball we took a single. I then noticed that the scoreboard was showing six runs to win. On the last ball of the over, I was expecting a slower ball from Steve Waugh as he was famous for this during that era. However, I thought he would bowl me a full toss; and dreams do come true. He bowled me a full toss and I hit it for a six to the longest boundary of the ground. That was amazing.

In an photo you are labeled as “a servant to the match situation.” Do you believe such?

Who were some of the toughest bowlers you have faced?
The late Malcolm Marshall and Wasim Akram.

What would you like people to remember you for the most?
Two winning innings against Australia in 1987 and 1992.

Looking back on your career, would you do anything differently?
Not really, I would do the same as I have earned my respect from adopting the right attitude.

The former Pakistani batsman Asif Mujtaba with USA players.

As a young cricketer, who were some of the players you looked up to?

Asif Iqbal and Javed Miandad.

What are Pakistan’s chances at winning the 2015 Cricket World Cup?
To be very honest, they have a greater chance than the 1992 Pakistan World Cup team.

Tell us about your debut Test match against the West Indies?
I would never forget when Imran Khan the then captain of the team handed me the Test cap on my debut, and It was really exciting as a 19 year-old facing the toughest bowling attack, although I did not score runs, I was confident.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Javed Miandad for his fighting spirit.

At what age did you score your first century, and against which team?
It was a club cricket game and I was just 13 years old, I do not remember the team.

If you have to pick another left-handed batsman to bat for you, who would that be, and why?
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, he anchors his inning.

Have you had opportunities to see cricket in the USA beyond Texas, and if so, do you believe the country has the potential to compete beyond the ICC Associate Member level?
Yes, I have had a chance to see cricket beyond Texas. I was the assistant coach with Robin Singh for USA women and men’s teams on two occasions. As far as potential, the US cricketers have a lot but they need a proper platform and guidance, which is what I am seeing from here. However, I do not know when moving beyond the ICC Associate Level will be.

Asif Mujtaba and Usman Shuja having a chat during USACA National T20 tournament which was held in August of 2014. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

What would you immediately change to improve the game here in the USA?

I would love to see more turf pitches, playing on artificial pitches will not serve the cause, and leagues need to be more educated in terms of understanding the game. There are a lot of things on paper but there is a lack of implementation, but I hope it will improve down the road.

Beyond hard work and dedicated practice, what advice would you give a young up and coming batsman?
Play through the line, do not implement T20 shots in your inning, when you think that you have your basics covered and you are getting tough and strong, then you can think of those shots. Some people may not agree with me, but I work on a long-term basis for bigger and long-lasting results. I do not endorse short-term efforts.

Give us your overall view on the current state of cricket in the world, and what the ICC may do differently to help the sport grow globally?
ICC is doing a wonderful job by exploring and giving support to other non-traditional cricket playing countries.

Would you consider coaching cricket as a career in the USA?
I would like to do so, as cricket is my life.