Wednesday 3 October 2007 

Owais Shah - Middlesex CCC Beneficiary 2008

Owais Alam Shah is perhaps one of the most underrated cricketers to appear in an England cricket shirt. The Middlesex batsman and part time off-spinner has appeared for England in a number of One-Day internationals and boasts two Test caps to his name.

A classy stroke-maker with an excellent temperament, Owais has an undeniable talent on the cricket pitch that has seen him become a regular fixture in the England One-Day side and feature in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September.

Currently on tour with England in Sri Lanka with the One-Day side, Owais will be hoping to add another century to his belt following his maiden One-Day ton against India at the Oval in the summer. Solid performances with the bat over the winter should establish Owais as a prominent member of the Test side.

Born in 1978 in Karachi, Pakistan, Owais Shah moved to the UK with his family at the age of 8. A cricketing prodigy as a teenager, he was offered a professional contract at Middlesex County Cricket Club at the young age of 15, playing for the Under 19’s.

Inspired by other cricketers such as Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar, and public figures such as Nelson Mandela, whom he admires for his unfettered struggle for what he believed in, Owais Shah made his first class debut at the age of 17, in 1996, and won the NBC Denis Compton Award as the the Most Promising Young English Player in 1997. In early 1998, his stock rose after captaining England to victory in the Under 19’s World Cup in South Africa. The following season, he captained the England Under-19 team for their Test Match series at home, against Pakistan. So many achievements at such a young age led many people to label him as the finest young English batting talent in 20 years.

Driven to reach the highest level in cricketing accomplishments and determined to test his skills against the top players throughout the world, he overcame early setbacks in his game and finished second top scorer in the First Division of the County Championship in 2005, making 1650 runs at an average of 63.46.

Further highlights in his cricketing career include his Test Debut against India, in Mumbai, where he scored an impressive 88, as well as being man of the match for his match-winning knock of 55 not out in the second Twenty20 international between England and West Indies this summer.

Regardless of his ethnic background, Owais Shah recognises the importance of being a strong role model for the young generation of aspiring cricketers - not just young British Asians, but for all youth showing a passion and flair for cricket.

Playing for Middlesex County Cricket Club, Owais Shah has changed his game somewhat in recent times. While possessing a wide range of shots, the pull shot and the cover drive are his most prominent, and strengthening his game has allowed him to keep knocking on the door of the England selectors. It is perhaps befitting of the healthy state of English cricket that a talent such as Owais has been a peripheral figure in the English camp until recently.

It is these talents, his dedicated approach and his outstanding contribution to the Middlesex team as a capped player for nine years, which have led them to award him a Benefit Year in 2008.

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