“Watch out for this brilliant left-hander.”
Ramiz Raja, the former Pakistan captain and ex-CEO of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), could not have been more prophetic in 2004. This was about seven years before we finally saw that ‘brilliant left-hander’ named Nasir Jamshed in full bloom for Pakistan.
Ramiz has been a very good judge of talent, and he was the most thrilled when Jamshed came good on his promise. “His execution of shots is incredible. He has that deft touch to go places,” Ramiz had said in praise of Jamshed.
Now, 13 years after he first saw a glimpse of Jamshed, Ramiz is as distraught as the entire Pakistan cricket community at a talent gone horribly wrong. This despondency has much to do with the news that Jamshed was arrested by the National Crime Agency in UK in connection with the spot-fixing case in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL). It was said that Jamshed acted as a “go-between” a bookie and the two other left-hand batsmen — Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif.
“What a waste of talent,” said an aghast Ramiz. “It was shocking to note that Jamshed was allegedly involved in this.”
Jamshed was provisionally suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and appeared in the court with the man suspected of dubious intent on Tuesday. Both were given bail till April when the investigation finally kicks off. His employers National Bank – who previously employed the trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif (all caught for spot-fixing in 2010)—duly terminated his contract.
Jamshed has been on the international sidelines after a period of high from 2014, when he married a doctor from United Kingdom and attempted to secure citizenship there. His career literally nosedived after a disastrous show as replacement for an injured Mohammad Hafeez at the 2015 World Cup. Jamshed was the butt of all jokes for not only his batting, but also his weight and sloppy fielding.
He was dismissed for a second-ball duck against West Indies in that tournament in a game where he also dropped two catches. He then managed a nine-ball single against Zimbabwe and a 12-ball four against United Arab Emirates (UAE) in what was his final sighting in Green Shirts.
“How we waste our talent is obvious from Jamshed’s case,” opined Zaheer Abbas, the legendary batsman also known as the Asian Bradman. “It was shocking to know about his fall from grace.”
Things were much different for Jamshed when he was the toast of Pakistan after scoring three consecutive ODI hundreds, two which came on a short tour to India at the turn of 2012. He had emulated the great Zaheer himself, whose hat-trick of hundreds came at home in the 1982-83 series, all of them against arch-rivals India.
Jamshed achieved the feat in the space of nine months. His maiden hundred came in March 2012 in Dhaka in the Asia Cup, a 104-ball 112 which was also the backbone of a 224-run opening stand with Hafeez. The knock went in vain as India clinched the match on the back of a brilliant 183 by Virat Kohli, but Jamshed had served notice.
Then, in the series in India, the dominant home side was expected to start as favourite, but not in the eyes of Jamshed. He stroked 101 off 132 balls as Pakistan upset the hosts in Chennai. In the second ODI at Kolkata’s iconic Eden Gardens, Jamshed smashed a 124-ball 106, adding 141 for the opening wicket with Hafeez to set up a series clinching win for Pakistan.
Misbah-ul Haq and MS Dhoni, the rival captains in that series, had been all praise for Jamshed.
“Jamshed has superb temperament and can play a long innings. He is an exceptional talent and is a good prospect for Pakistan,” said Misbah after the series was sealed in the second ODI.
Dhoni also admired Jamshed’s abilities. “It is important for a batsman when he gets a start to stay for long and allow the team to play around him,” said the then Indian captain. “That is what he has done. He took calculated risks and batted with good composure.”
Jamshed had also found another admirer in Aamir Sohail, the former Pakistan captain and himself a left-hand opening batsman. “Jamshed is an injury-prone guy but is an exceptional talent. I am really very pleased with him,” Sohail had said at that time. “We are very lucky to have him in the team. It is good to see him fulfilling the expectations that we all have from him.”
Pakistan finally seemed to have unearthed a star after a number of years, and that too thanks to his exploits in India.
But even, then there were murmurs of his possible involvement in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) spot-fixing scandal. Jamshed’s name cropped up when his mobile number and bank details were allegedly found with an alleged bookie arrested in Dhaka.
Jamshed had been famously jailed for a day after he was found cheating while appearing for his ninth class English exam. He could thereby never fulfil his desire to learn to speak English.
He has desires galore, but he has never learnt his lessons well. That sums up his fall from grace.
Jamshed’s name can now safely be added to the list of Pakistan players who have promised much, but have almost always flattered to deceive.