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'I didn't make a U-turn' - Usman defends decision of returning to Pakistan

'I didn't make a U-turn' - Usman defends decision of returning to Pakistan

Usman Qadir after a long gruelling wait has earned a call up to the national team of Pakistan. He was trying his luck in the shores of Australia in the last few years after losing faith in the system of his birthplace. 

"My ambition was to play for Australia before. I said to my father I did not get any chances to play in Pakistan. I wanted to go to Australia and wanted to make a career over there," Qadir was quoted as saying by the  

The leggie has represented Western Australia (WA) and Perth Scorchers in 2018 and was gearing up for representing Australia after applying through distinguished talent visa which would have made him eligible to represent Australia in 2020 T20 World Cup but in a quick turn of events, he has been welcomed by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and fast-tracked into the side amidst a colossal dearth of quality leg spinners.  

However, Usman wasn't too optimistic about passing the eligibility criteria before the next year's marquee tournament and is now ready to fulfil his late father Abdul Qadir's wish of his son donning the Pakistan shirt and that dream will come true in the limited-overs series against Australia that will kick off from November 3. 

"My father said, 'My wish is for (you) to play for Pakistan, for your own country. If you want to go there (to Australia), you can – it's your own decision. But my dream is for you to play for Pakistan," Usman added. 

Usman, who was mourning his beloved father's demise a few weeks ago, was informed by his elated wife about his sudden selection and this news came a few days after he was blessed with a daughter. Usman must have felt a gush of relief after being on the move in the hopes of playing cricket at the top level. Now he has got the opportunity to showcase his talent in the challenging Australia tour.

Usman showed his bag of tricks in the last year's Prime Minister's XI game against South Africa and expressed his desire to play for Australia but that ship has sailed now. 

With a languid run-up and a nifty bit of sleight of hand, he can bowl leg-spin, googlies, top spinner and he gets a lot of purchase from the deck due to his height.  

The former management squandered the opportunity to groom Usman and use him at the apex level but better late than never, fortunes changed briskly for Usman who impressed upon Misbah-ul-Haq in the recently concluded National T20 Cup where he played four matches for Central Punjab and subsequently got selected in the national team.

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"The PCB put my name in for the national T20 (domestic tournament). I played four games there, I did not take lots of wickets, but the selectors really liked me and said, 'We're going to pick you'. I said, 'Okay that's fine," Usman shared. 

I didn't make a U-turn - Usman

Usman has copped some flak from a section of denigrating fans who believe the 26-year-old took a swift turn and had a change of heart at the last moment just to play at the international level.

"I said before that I wanted to play for Australia but … it's a big opportunity to play for your own country.

"That's not a U-turn. I played all the cricket but unfortunately, if I wanted to play T20 for Australia, I have to be a local there. Everyone said to me that I had made a U-turn – I didn't make a U-turn. I didn't make any decision like this."

Usman is hopeful that he can continue to visit Australia for the Big Bash League but he is also uncertain at the same time about his future after the surprising turn of events in the last week. 

Usman was first spotted in Australia during the Under-19 2012 World Cup where he managed an ordinary performance for Pakistan but still got propelled to the next stage and was roped in by Adelaide Cricket Club for which he bagged 41 wickets in 12 matches.

Thereafter, he returned to Pakistan and played for the department National Bank of Pakistan but he became disenchanted with the 'politics' and had to face hurtful allegations of nepotism while he was trying to emulate his great father.

Usman has received felicitations from his peers and teams that he represented in Australia. 

"They are very good people and when I got selected for the Pakistan team, they messaged me and congratulated me, and that's a good sign.

"I really learnt a lot in Australia, playing in the Big Bash and in the (domestic) one-dayers.

"It's a good thing I've already played there. Australian cricketers are really good… if you're a spinner, they attack you, they come really hard. If you have the basics, you can do well."

Usman made an impression on the incumbent Australia team's coach Justin Langer when he first played for WA and the Scorchers and dismissed 17 batsmen. The jubilant spinner is excited to meet him again.  

"I don't know what they (the Australians) are going to say to me, but he (Langer) is a very nice guy, very down to earth.

"Every time (I saw him) he is encouraging me, and he is giving me good advice. I learnt a lot from him.

"I'm a left-handed batsman as well so whenever I have had difficulties, I am watching Justin Langer because he was a great player."