ILT20: Al Ain electrician's rise from throwing stones to playing with World Cup winners

Mohammed Jawadullah was picked out for special praise by Moeen Ali after excelling for Sharjah Warriors

Mohammed Jawadullah of Sharjah Warriors bowls during the DP World International League T20 match against Desert Vipers held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Photo: ILT20
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A little over three years ago, Mohammed Jawadullah left Pakistan to take up a job as an electrician at Al Ain Shooting Club.

Having played some tape-ball cricket back at home in the valley of Peshawar, he joined his staff team in the UAE's Garden City, to make friends and pass the time.

Fast-forward to now, and his teammates are of a rather different profile. For the past month, he shared a dressing room with T20 World Cup-winners such as Moeen Ali, Evin Lewis and Dawid Malan with Sharjah Warriors in the DP World International League T20. And he excelled, too.

It has been a remarkable rise in the game for a 22-year-old left-armer with a quirky, homespun technique, and who is now targeting a full international debut for the UAE.

“I hope so,” Jawadullah said of his prospects of a call up for his adopted nation. “I have played a couple of [friendly] matches against Afghanistan and Denmark.

“So I am close to a debut. Inshallah with my performances in ILT20, I can get the chance.”

After Sharjah exited the tournament on Monday night, Moeen, their captain, picked out his unheralded UAE-based seamer for a commendation.

“Jawadullah did really well for us, generally,” Moeen said. “He was the guy who made our team stronger, and also balanced our team because we were struggling for a fourth seamer.”

Words of praise like that, from a double-World Cup winner and global franchise tourist, are scarcely believable to Jawadullah, given his humble origins in the game.

“I have never been part of something big like this,” Jawadullah said. “I got to play with some of the big names and Moeen Ali has been my favourite.

“There was no formal or even informal start for me [in cricket] as such. I remember at around eight years old, I started with just slinging my arm over with stones in my village [near Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 70kms from Peshawar].

“Once we got the hang of it, my cousins and I moved to tennis-ball cricket. I never played hard-ball cricket until after I came to the UAE.”

Jawadullah’s bowling action provides a hint to his rudimentary start in the sport. He has a distinctive double hop to get into his delivery stride – an eccentricity which he might have lost had he had any sort of formal coaching at all.

“My bowling has been the same as I started in childhood,” he said.

“Back home in the village, no one said anything and I was also never conscious that something is off with my bowling.

“It is only in the past year that I have been made aware and I now realise it. I am unsure if it is too late to change now.

“I haven't based my game on anyone but my favourites have been Wasim Akram and Mohammed Amir from the recent lot due to them being fellow left-handers.”

His unorthodoxy could be a boon, too. Certainly, his Sharjah colleagues were appreciative of his methods, limiting themselves to tactical advice and encouragement, rather than technical alterations.

“[Mohammed] Nabi bhai kept giving me advice, like a brother, while bowling which was so comforting,” he said.

“The bowling coach [G Jayakumar] gave a good tip to bowl closer to the stumps at the point of delivery. He said it will help me swing the ball both ways.”

Updated: February 09, 2023, 7:07 AM