A Conversation with Ambidextrous Fast Bowler Yasir Jan

In this photograph taken on September 29, 2016, Pakistan under-19, fast bowler Yasir Jan, who plays for Lahore Qalandars T20 cricket team, gives an interview to AFP in Lahore. A green-grocer's son who can bowl at pace with either arm is causing excitement in Pakistan as he targets a spot on the national team. Yasir Jan, 21, can generate around 145 kilometres (90 miles) per hour with his right arm and 135 kph with his left, making him a unique talent. / AFP / ARIF ALI (Photo credit should read ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a press conference at Lord’s ahead of the final Test between England and the Windies. There was a great buzz around the ground, but lots of the talk was centred around Yasir Jan, an ambidextrous fast bowler in the nets. Yasir has the exceptional skill of being able to bowl at pace with both his right and left arms, a truly unique phenomenon. The upcoming Pakistani star had previously been in Australia and was now training with the MCC Young Cricketers. Yasir Jan now has his sights set on playing in the Pakistani Super League and hopes to break into the international side. After meeting a colleague of his, I was able to speak to Yasir and his generous associate acted as a translator as well.

Have you always bowled with both arms?

I’ve been doing it from a young age and have been bowling right arm and left arm, and by doing this since I was a kid I’ve naturally got power on my left arm. I am naturally right handed.

Is there a time when you are going to focus on bowling with only one arm and just focus on that in the future?

I want to focus primarily on both arms and make sure that my left arm generates the same pace as my right arm. The reason for this is that I want to become the first player in cricket history to change this and make sure that, looking at how fast cricket is moving, that this can come into play.

Is it fair that a batsman can change his arms and play a switch hit but that a bowler has to alert the umpire to signal that he is changing arms?

Normally at the moment under the laws of the cricket, if when a bowler is running in to a right handed batsman and he changes his stance to that of a left-hander, that is not in the laws of cricket at the moment. However, I feel that, with the pace of cricket now, they should change that in future. But at the moment with that law not yet being introduced, it is fair that a bowler should have to tell the umpire to swap it.

What format do your think your skill is most suited in?

The format I think that it would definitely work in is the T20s as it is such a short format where you only bowl four overs. The beauty of it is that I can come in right hand to bowl fast and depending on the situation I can actually swing the ball more with my left hand.

What are your ambitions in the game if you are mainly focusing on limited overs cricket?

My ambition is obviously to bowl right arm, left arm and now to come into the Pakistani domestic, the Pakistan Super League. I want to become the first bowler to do this in domestic cricket and then come into international cricket and play for Pakistan.

What was your experience at Lord’s like? How did you most enjoy bowling to?

My experience coming to Lords was amazing, like a dream come true, its the Home of Cricket and coming to England and training at Lord’s was so good because I could use so many amazing facilities. I learnt how to bowl in these kind of conditions and how to practise my swing bowling. By getting training from Steve Kirby, that actually helped me a lot with my action and he was helping with my run up. It was such a great experience bowling to the England and West Indies team and it improved me as a bowler, thinking what to do and I really enjoyed bowling to Joe Root and Jason Holder from the West Indies.

What was your experience like in Australia compared to England?

My experience in Australia was excellent, but unfortunately I didn’t play any games, but I was training. The benefits I found in Australia were the fast tracks out there but the experience in London was amazing because of the conditions, as it rained the majority of the time, and most of all it wasn’t in England about bowling fast, but bowling in the right the spot and getting the ball to move.

Are you optimistic about the return of international cricket to Pakistan? How significant was the World XI series?

It is an absolute honour to have the World XI coming to Pakistan and having international stars and having cricket back in Pakistan. We’ve got so many grounds which are empty and seeing them filled and seeing international stars coming to Pakistan, its maybe a start of the return of cricket to Pakistan. Its made a lot of Pakistani people happy.

Who was your greatest inspiration when you were younger? Pakistan have produced some of the greatest swing bowlers of all time, who inspired you?

When I first started, I started watching Waqar Younis in the 2003 World Cup and that was a big inspiration for me, watching his action, and of course Wasim Akram’s action in the 1992 World Cup. His action was beautiful which inspired me to bowl left arm. The likes of Shoaib Akhtar came along very aggressive, great action and these were the three main Pakistani influences on my bowling. While growing up in my teenage years, the next inspiration came in Brett Lee, his action was beautiful, a beautiful right arm bowler. Now it is Dale Steyn, because of his action and speed, I now bowl with an identical action to Steyn’s.

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