Hassan Khalid hopes to turn Abu Dhabi T10 dream into reality

Ajman spinner missed out on an opportunity to play in November but is pursuing his goals with Qalandars

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Nov 13  – 2019 :- Hassan Khalid of  Qalandars T10 cricket team bowling during the training session held at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Sports. Story by Paul

Hassan Khalid might not have made it onto the field after being summoned from lessons to join the Qalandars squad for the Abu Dhabi T10 in November.

But the 17-year-old spinner from Ajman still regards the experience as “one of those dreams you just don’t want to wake up from” – and hopes he has a long-term future with the franchise.

After the players in that makeshift side headed home, and the Qalandars management went back to Lahore prepare for the Pakistan Super League, Khalid made a point of staying in touch.

He is on a WhatsApp group that includes many of the side’s finest products, such as Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Akhtar and Haris Rauf, and has been borrowing from their training ideas during lockdown.

The franchise have also discussed the idea of him moving to Lahore next year and training as part of their high-performance programme.

“It was a really great experience, and the only regret I had was that I exposed an injury I had, just when I was due to get a game,” Khalid said of his T10 “dream”.

“Because of that, I was left out of the side for the game against Deccan Gladiators.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Nov 13  – 2019 :- Hassan Khalid of Qalandars T10 cricket team during the training session held at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Sports. Story by Paul

“After the tournament I stayed in touch with them via WhatsApp. They have spoken to me about the high-performance camp, and said, ‘Come and join us.’

“I am considering finishing my AS here, then doing my final year in Lahore.

"I want to keep up my studies, but at the same time try to train as a professional cricketer.”

Having missed time from his A-levels at the International School of Creative Science in Sharjah for the T10, he is now absent from the classroom again – like the rest of the student population.

The coronavirus-enforced lockdown has not distracted him from his goals, though.

In order of priority, his aim is to make a career from cricket first. If that does not come to pass, he hopes to become a doctor.

His end-of-year exams have been shelved, with predicted grades set to be implemented instead, which suits him.

“I’m better with this than having to sit for exams, as it is less stressful,” Khalid said.

During isolation, he has been doing four hours of schoolwork in the morning, then nearly as much again on fitness and cricket conditioning in the afternoons and evenings.

His father, Khalid Waheed, has specially modified a room in the family’s three-bedroom apartment in Ajman to support his cricket.

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Abu Dhabi T10 report card for UAE players

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The walls have been fortified with foam to dull the constant blows from his batting practice.

Similarly, coloured tiles – those more commonly used to help soften the landings for toddlers learning to walk – have been affixed to the wall in a way that simulates the lengths he would aim to bowl when bowling outside.

“If he can use this time to build up his skills, he will be ready for the challenges when cricket starts again,” Waheed said.

“Of course we haven’t got 22 yards, maybe just seven or eight, but we can still simulate outswing and inswing [for batting].

“For bowling, he is doing his best to do whatever is possible.

"He uses one of the slam balls, which is 450g, and bowls with that at the markings on the wall.

“We are doing that so his wrist and shoulders stay strong and flexible.”

Training in isolation is clearly no replacement for the real thing, and Khalid said he is missing the buzz of matchdays.

That said, though, he acknowledges there are some perks to the current situation.

“I do miss nets, and playing matches with my mates,” said Khalid, who is a product of the same coaching academy as UAE senior team regulars Ahmed Raza, Rameez Shahzad and Chirag Suri.

“I’m just trying to keep my fitness up so that when the cricket starts again I’ll be ready to go.

“And I think most students would say the good thing about lockdown is not having to go to school right now.”

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