LEAPING FORWARD : CANADIAN CRICKETER SHAHID AHMADZAI

An essential member of the Canada men’s national team and arguably one of the best in the country, this player’s journey from Afghanistan to Canada, now pursuing his passion requires some recognition.Today we’ve had the opportunity to interact with the player himself, Shahid Ahmadzai.

1. Hi Shahid, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Afghanistan. I played back home on youth and national teams and eventually was brought here to play domestic cricket and got selected for the Canada Team.

2. Was cricket a part of your childhood or was it something else that prompted you to take it up?

Cricket was a big part of my childhood. I would play in school and even on the streets with the boys and I remember my brother and neighbors would yell at me to not play in the streets because we’d break windows. I always dreamed of playing for the national team (at the time, the Afghanistan team).

Shahid alongside Edmonton teammate Jimmy Neesham

3. The Global T20 is a grand T20 league for Canada. How was your experience playing for the Edmonton Royals?

It was a great opportunity for me, playing for the Edmonton Royals and it was my first year playing for the Global T20. It was a surreal experience, playing alongside players like Faf du Plessis, James Neesham and Mohammed Hafiz to name a few. Even just sharing a dressing room with them was crazy because these were players that I always watched on TV and I never imagined I would get the opportunity to meet them in real life.

Shahid with Faf du Plessis in the Global T20

4. What is some great advice you have received relating to cricket in your career?

The best advice I’ve ever gotten is to play positive cricket, meaning whenever you go out for batting, don’t be scared, just play your natural batting. For bowling – focus on your line and length, let the batsman hit you for boundary one or two or so, they will eventually get out.

5. What moment in your career do you hold most dear?

One of the greatest moments in my career was when I got a call from the Cricket Canada coach telling me I was selected to play for the Canadian National team against USA.

6. Can you tell us about the international cricketers you admire the most?

Yuvraj Singh – I’ve always admired him and tried to be as good a batsman as him. Daniel Vettori – I admired him because of his bowling techniques since I’m a left arm spin bowler and he was the king of that.

7. How is the regional structure for domestic competition in Canada?

Structures are pretty much the same as in other countries. There are great cricket clubs in Canada and they have talented players which makes for great (and tough) competition.

8. As a player presenting Canada, how would you rate the growth of cricket in North America in terms of popularity and quality in the last few years?

As a Canadian cricket player, I see that cricket has been growing a lot in North America with the Global T20 coming here over the last couple of years, as well as with other franchises like IPL, CPL and BBL being broadcasted on TV. More people are watching and it has evolved to reach more and more people, even playing in schools and colleges here in Canada.

9. How is the daily fitness routine in terms of diet and lifestyle for a cricketer like you? How difficult is it to bounce back from injuries while playing a sport like cricket?

Before the current COVID-19 situation, I used to go to the gym four days a week for an hour and a half. I would do cardio and lifting to keep myself fit, as well as cricket practice (3 hours each) 4 days a week. Now, I find other ways to stay active. I go on runs and do core workouts at home like pushups, burpees, squats etc.Thankfully, I’ve never had an injury but I imagine it would be difficult to bounce back as you would need some downtime and it would be hard going from being active to taking a break to allow your body to heal, which would mean not over exerting yourself.

10. Finally, tell us a motto in your life which inspires you to do better each day.

Two mottos that resonate with me are 1 – “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” And 2 – “defeat does not demoralize you but being demoralized is that which defeats you.” These remind me to push through and that persistence leads to continued achievement.Thank you Shahid for taking out your precious time to conduct this interview with us. We wish you the best in all your current and future endeavours.