LAHORE: Usman Qadir, son of legendary leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, has said that he has decided to quit Pakistan and opted to play for Australia.
On Wednesday, Usman made his state debut for Western Australia.
Having seen the pathway opened up by another leg-spinner of Pakistani origin – Fawad Ahmed in 2013 – Usman has identified his qualification for a distinguished talent visa and its attendant fast-tracking of Australian citizenship as means by which to be able to play for his adopted country in time for the 2020 World Twenty20 tournament, hosted by Australia.
It’s been six years since Usman, 25, first loomed as a possible Australian representative. Having played for Pakistan at the 2012 Under-19s World Cup in northern Australia, he was encouraged by then South Australia coach Darren Berry to play club cricket for Adelaide, where he performed well and seemed on course to graduate to higher honours.
“I got named in the Pakistan team and my father was the chief selector at that time and he took my name off because he said ‘everybody is going to say to me that your son is not performing well’, but at that time I got the hat-trick and got seven wickets, and the chairman put my name in the team and he said, ‘no, everybody is going to say that you take your son in the team’.
“After that, I quit cricket for one-and-a-half-years, and I keep telling him I don’t want to play for Pakistan, I want to go to play in Australia and make my future. He kept telling me, ‘no, you have to play for Pakistan’ but last year he said to me ‘if you want to go you are grown up, you can do whatever you want to do, I’m with you and I’ll support you’.”
So, it was that two years ago, Usman returned to Australia with the intent to build a new cricket career. At the time, his father suggested that it was fair enough to make the move, having exhausted his options in Pakistan. “I, as a father and a former cricketer, have lost trust in our system to give a fair chance to our players to prove themselves,” Abdul Qadir said in 2016. “I don’t want to see my other son to go down and suffer due to this system which doesn’t respect their legends.
“I never went to any selector on behalf of my son and never will. My other sons were also capable enough to represent Pakistan but they didn’t grow, but Usman is very much capable and I know he has the potential for top-level cricket. I have allowed Usman to decide about his future. I did hold him back from migrating to Australia in 2013 and asked him to stay in Pakistan. But now after him being ignored for more than three years, I don’t think it’s fair for me to stop him anymore.”
“There is politics, they’re making their own decisions, they have likes and dislikes and that’s why I don’t like that,” Usman said of his experience in Pakistan. “If I’m performing well you can see, and I did not get any chances to play good cricket. I said to myself that I didn’t want to play in Pakistan anymore, so I moved here.
“If I’m performing well, hopefully, they give me an opportunity to play four days (Sheffield Shield) as well. I’m living at the moment in Sydney, hopefully, I’m going to move to Perth to play in club cricket and performing well there hopefully they give me a chance to perform in four days as well.”