Exclusive Interview With Cricketer-Coach Atiq uz Zaman

An extremely skillful and talented wicket-keeper who burst onto the scene, broke records, and faded away due to the lack of opportunities. Years later, just when Pakistan cricket thought he had disappeared, he returned to the country, not as a player but as a professional coach. That’s Atiq uz Zaman for you folks. Circumstances and luck may not have stood by his side as a player, but he worked hard and made that ‘comeback’.


After years of training and getting himself qualified in England, he returned and is still working his way up as a coach. We at Read Scoops were lucky enough to talk to Atiq and ask him about his brief international career, his second innings as a coach, his recent stint in the UAE where he was assigned fielding coach of the Lahore Qalandars, and his future plans in cricket. Keep reading for more!

Atiq uz Zaman social profiles 🌐:

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ATIQ UZ ZAMAN’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH READ SCOOPS:

Q1. To begin with, how would you describe your international career for Pakistan? What was it like to play alongside some of the greatest cricketers of that time?

To be honest, my international career was much shorter than I originally expected. To my bad luck, there were two fantastic wicket keepers playing during my time – Moin Khan & Rashid Latif. It was very hard to beat them and I was fortunate enough to get a chance to represent Pakistan while they were still playing. It was remarkable, being a part of such a legendary team that included the likes of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Aamer Sohail, Ijaz Ahmed, Mushtaq Ahmed and others. It was also a very nervous time for me because I hadn’t represented Pakistan A for a very long time, but I coped alright, grabbed the chance and played well in my 1st Test match. I became the first Pakistani keeper to take 5 catches in their 1st Test and then nearly won the Test batting with Mohammad Yousuf, until I got out and things changed.


Later, I got injured while playing a one-day practice match in the West Indies and had to come back home from that tour. I then got picked for the ODI side and did well as a keeper, but the situation in Pakistan at the time was not too favourable. A change in the selection committee put my name really behind the rest, even though I broke a long standing first-class record of most dismissals in a season – 82 (beating the previous record of 74). I got really affected since someone else was selected over me and because of that disappointment, I ended up moving to England.

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Zaman’s international career lasted just that one Test against Sri Lanka, followed by 3 ODIs in the 2000 Singapore Challenge against New Zealand and South Africa. After ending his career as a professional cricketer, he then moved on to becoming a coach, but ensured he did it the absolute right way.

Q2. Talk us through the next stage of your life, where you migrated to England. What was the main purpose of doing so?

Like I said, I was expecting a national call-up after breaking wicket-keeping records but sadly, Humayun Farhat was picked over me (just 51 dismissals in that same season). I felt there was nothing much left for me in Pakistan, so I moved to England in 2003 where I worked very hard on my game. I got married and came back that season, thinking I would give it one last go since I knew I was one of the best wicket-keepers in the country. I captained my association team Karachi and was confident I’d make a comeback. Again, circumstances were unfavourable, my wife was pregnant and I had to go back for the delivery. Kamran Akmal was picked and he played really well, and I knew that was it! I had fallen back and it was going to be tough to ever make a return. 


I thought I’d play domestic cricket in England and made the decision to live abroad. Eventually, age was an issue and me being 30+ years old made it difficult for me to play County cricket in England too. I realized I had no career left as a player but my passion for the game made me take up the role of  a professional coach.

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Zaman was always a captain during his Grade 1-2 cricket days, so he knew he could be a good coach too. He watched a lot of football in England, saw how players took to coaching after retirement and he thought ‘Why not?!’ Realizing the importance of qualifications in any field, he completed a Level 3 accreditation in coaching, followed by a 3-year degree in Sports Science and even a Masters in Sports Coaching.

After his coaching studies, he worked with Lancashire County, coaching the U-13’s, U-15’s, U-17’s and U-19’s. He had vanished from Pakistan cricket for a long period of eight years but finally made a comeback as a coach in 2011, and his team (Sui Southern Gas Company) showed a lot of improvement since his arrival.

Q3. What was the experience at PSL 2018 like?

Last year, I got a phone call from Aaqib Javed, asking me if I wanted to work with PSL (Pakistan Super League) franchise Lahore Qalandars as he was following my progress in domestic cricket since 2011. They were looking for someone who had experience in domestic cricket as franchise cricket involves a lot of local players and local knowledge from coaches. So, I accepted the contract of being the fielding coach for the Qalandars and it was a great experience. I enjoyed the different scenarios in this faster version of the game (T20), where you can win or lose matches in a matter of minutes. 


It was interesting but personally, it was very difficult for me as I’ve gone through most of my career as Head Coach, where I made my own decisions. It was hard when the team wasn’t doing well and I thought there were things I could change but I didn’t really have the authority to make those changes. It was very heartbreaking to watch the team lose, and me not being able to do anything about it. Overall, it was an enjoyable tournament but I was disappointed with the team’s results; we had a good side but couldn’t succeed. It’s left to be seen how they evaluate my performance and whether they’ll want me back at the PSL next year as well. 

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Atiq6Just a couple of weeks back, Atiq uz Zaman joined the Stem Sports team – an ECB registered sports management company. With better representation, Zaman could now probably reach greater heights as a coach!

Q4. Tell us something about Stem Sports and the work they are doing for sports around the world.

I’ve been following Stem Sports for a couple of years now, and Uzayr Raja (Director of Sports at Stem Sports) is a very good friend. We both live in England and we’ve always had a chat or two together. I’ve been on the look out for reliable management since the last couple of years since I have a lot of experience and qualifications, and wanted to do as much work towards my career as possible, as I am still 42-years young 😛 hahaha. I want to work as much as I can and I knew Stem Sports was doing some really good work, representing some good players participating in the PSL, BPL and even some playing for their national sides. I thought it was the right time to join their team and I have 100% confidence in Uzayr and co., that they will develop me and get me opportunities to become an even better coach. 


Q5. Now that you have associated yourselves with Stem Sports, what are your future plans? What is the final aim as a coach?

Look, I honestly feel that there are a lot of things left to learn at the moment. The PSL experience was obviously of high-benefit to me and now my next aim is to get involved with the Pakistan women’s side. I worked with them for a couple of weeks last year as a fielding coach and was nearly going to the World Cup with them until my Head Coach unfortunately resigned and the entire coaching staff had to change. It was a hard time but I liked working with them and when the opportunity comes to do it again, I will. The men’s team has financial and other resources, and you don’t have to bother about them too much. On the other hand, the women’s team has a lot of potential but needs more help. I would also want to get into leagues like the BPL, CPL, the Big Bash or even the T10 league! 

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Q6. Tell us more about Atiq as a person, apart from being a cricketer and coach.

I’m a very simple and straightforward person. I believe I’m very open minded and people can share their thoughts with me, which is an important quality of a coach. I’m a social person and love going out with friends and colleagues every once in a way. I love educating myself too, and I’m currently doing a diploma in Educational Leadership.

Here’s Atiq uz Zaman telling us more about himself:

Q7. A message for young, aspiring sportsmen around the world.

Additionally, I would like to tell upcoming cricketers to always stick to the basics and remember to respect your coaches. Listen to your coaches and apply what works well on you. Coaching is never about the coach, but about the players. Sometimes, coaches may get it wrong and deliver a wrong message to the player, but the player must always listen to those messages. 


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I’m very grateful to Atiq uz Zaman for taking the time out to talk to us and giving us insights into the highs and lows of his career as an international cricketer, as well as a coach. On behalf of the entire team of Read Scoops, I wish him the best of luck in taking his coaching ambitions to the next level.

Dwayne Fernandes, Read Scoops

(Twitter – @dwayneeeboy, Instagram – @dwayneeeboy)

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About Dwayne Fernandes 328 Articles
Indian. 23. Management Graduate. Huge cricket fan. Twitter and Instagram - @dwayneeeboy

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