It was the morning of 29th June 2011 that a tall, talented, 20-year old fast bowler called Safyaan Sharif walked out in Aberdeen to make his One Day International debut for Scotland. What transpired that day was some good cricket and eventually a 5-wicket win for Scotland over Netherlands, but more importantly, it was the prospect of a new pacer who would eventually go on to make the country proud on several occasions from that day.
Talking about that debut itself, Sharif picked up 4 for 27 that day, figures that one can only dream of in their first international game. While he has been an integral part of the Scottish cricketing unit since then, it took Sharif 7 long years before he could better that debut performance, recording his first ever 5-wicket haul last year, against Zimbabwe.
Read Scoops spoke to Sharif in 2018 and we mentioned how he tends to up his game in major tournaments/matches. Similarly, this 5/33 that he picked up came at a very crucial time, when Scotland was battling among several other countries at the 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe.
This became only the seventh 5-wicket haul for a Scottish bowler in ODIs, and there was no better time that Sharif could have got it, while his country was fighting for a place in the 10-team ICC 2019 World Cup tournament. They missed victory by a whisker, as the game was tied, and Sharif was awarded the Player of the Match.
Regardless, it was the most amazing spell of bowling from Sharif – one that will be remembered for ages. Scotland will not be a part of the 2019 World Cup, as Afghanistan and West Indies were the two teams to qualify. However, performances such as these show us that there is a huge amount of talent in the Scottish camp and who knows, maybe 2023 could be their year at the World Cup.
Such performances rarely go unnoticed. Almost a year after that brilliant spell of bowling in Zimbabwe, Sharif has been bestowed with the ‘Associate Bowling Performance of the Year‘ award in the recent ESPNcricinfo Awards. He took to Twitter to express his happiness after receiving this award:
— Safyaan Sharif (@Safyaan50) February 25, 2019
Read Scoops caught up with Sharif after he won this award. He said, “Firstly, I’d like to thank ESPNcricinfo for representing me for the ‘Bowling of the Year 2018’ category for the associates. I’m obviously very delighted to have received the award. That spell against Zimbabwe was very special as it was my first 5-wicket haul in ODIs. I think I was really pumped up for that tournament, which was my primary motivation to do well. Zimbabwe played well up top and scored a few boundaries, but I stuck to my task and was rewarded with wickets throughout the innings. I’m very pleased with that performance and also to receive this award from ESPNcricinfo.”
It was a good year for Scotland in cricket, as Sharif’s countryman Calum Macleod also bagged the ‘Batting Performance of the Year 2018’ award for ICC associate nations. For more updates cricketing news and updates from around the world, keep reading ReadScoops.com.