Rashid Khan: A star both on and off the cricket field
From Adelaide to Hyderabad to Nottingham, cricket fans across the world have rightly fallen in love with Rashid Khan.
In the Caribbean Premier League, he took the first-ever hat-trick.
In the Indian Premier League, he became the first-ever million-pound player.
In The Hundred, he was the first pick of the draft.
Wherever Rashid Khan has gone he has broken new ground. Significantly, the Afghanistan international has done so under pressure and complications most of us are lucky enough to not even fully understand.
Last night, once again, his professionalism was a testament to the way he conducts himself both on and off the field.
With everything that is taking place in his homeland right now, Rashid could be forgiven for his thoughts being anywhere other than at Trent Bridge.
In sporting terms it was a ‘must-win’ occasion if the Rockets were to progress to the next stage, but that hardly seemed an appropriate way to phrase things in this context.
Rashid Khan, of course, still found a way to stand tall and deliver for his team.
At the top of his mark he slips into that self-made pocket of inventiveness and steely-eyed determination. It enchants fans and batsmen alike.
Of course, he took a wicket with the first and third ball. Of course, six balls into his spell and the best white-ball bowler in history had taken a wicket with half of his deliveries.
After 15 balls, Rashid Khan had figures of three for six.
At one point, he had deployed a leg slip and a slip - in The Hundred.
What is even more remarkable is that when Rashid Khan came onto bowl the Originals were 70 for one off 40 balls. He was key in the field too - taking two expertly judged catches in the deep - as the Originals lost four for five in just 10 balls.
Khan’s final figures were 20 balls, three wickets, 11 dots, 16 runs. He didn’t just change the game, he won it. All in about ten minutes.
And, in a way, it didn’t seem unusual - it’s sort of just what we have come to expect when he has the ball in his hand.
Such is the talent of Rashid Khan, that no one batted an eyelid or really wrote a word on him being the tournament's first draft pick. When the Rockets chose him, two years ago, the cricket community nodded at their pick and just muttered: “Yeah, that makes sense”.
Cricket has become synonymous with Rashid Khan. There doesn’t seem to be a time when he isn’t appearing in another global tournament because let's be honest, there isn’t.
In recent interviews, he revealed that in the last five years he has spent just 25 days at home. In the past three years, he has lost both his parents.
For either, he wasn’t able to go home, to grieve, to feel any sort of closure because he was playing cricket and entertaining groups of people that won't ever understand what he is thinking, feeling, or going through right now.
That only makes performances like last night – and all that he has achieved over the years - all the more remarkable.
By Jack Butler, ECB Hundred Rising Reporter, Nottingham
:: The ECB’s Hundred Rising is providing eight aspiring, young journalists the opportunity to tell the story of The Hundred men’s and women’s competitions through their own eyes.