For somebody who made his First Class debut just two years ago, Moin Ashraf is certainly on the right track to becoming a household name. Currently on duty with Yorkshire in the Champions League T20, the 20-year old is all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ahead of the tournament. By ANT SIMS.
For a (relative) beginner, Moin Ashraf is pushing all the right buttons to make a mark in his field. Fresh from a solid performance in England's domestic T20 competition, where he picked up 15 wickets from 12 matches, Ashraf is in South Africa with his Yorkshire team for the Champions League T20.
Yorkshire made it to the qualifying stages of the competition after reaching the final of their domestic competition in England, and they got into the main draw by winning both their matches in the qualifying rounds. The process of qualifying for the main draw of the competition has come under fire from all corners of the globe, but Ashraf believes that as it stands, the process works.
"I think the qualifying process is fair. I'd like to one day see the top two teams of every country compete in a competition like this, but for now if qualifying stages is the way to go, then so be it,” Ashraf told the Daily Maverick.
It’s a high-profile competition with a collection of big names gracing the stage in a very short space of time. For a youngster like Ashraf, playing alongside some of his idols is a dream come true – just mention some of the big names he’ll get to bowl to and his eyes go wide and light up with excitement.
"It's one of my dreams to play in a competition like this. Sachin Tendulkar will be playing in the same group as us, and it's such a huge honour to get to play with guys I look up to,” the 20-year-old said.
Yorkshire starts its campaign against the Sydney Sixers at Newlands on Tuesday, and while the conditions are very different to the pace and bounce the teams have seen on the Highveld, Ashraf’s pace and late away swing could serve him well on the early season South African wickets. The youngster also has a deadly yorker, a delivery which had seemingly become extinct as the game progressed and batsmen adapted to the modern era.
The Sixers’ line-up is stacked with some big hitters, and while the natural approach for some might be to target players like Shane Watson, Ashraf reckons it’s unwise to single out one or two players in a side.
"I don't think it's wise to target specific players. Obviously you have your danger men, but as soon as you take the approach of targeting specific players you can lose focus a bit,” Ashraf said.
Twenty20 might be a leveller of teams to a certain extent, but there are still sides who’ll be rated more highly than others. The paceman reckons that while his side might be viewed as underdogs, they’re certainly up for a fight.
“We’ve come in as underdogs to this competition and I’d hate to think that other teams might think that we’re easy to beat. I hope they don’t think that, but if they do, we’ll give them a bit of a surprise,” he said.
It might be all systems go on the field, but the team has also had some time to explore South Africa. They’ve visited Lion Park in Johannesburg and seen some other sights in their time off – a valuable break for any sportsman in an era where tours and game time never seem to stop.
"South Africa is absolutely beautiful and we've had a bit of time off to explore. I've actually really enjoyed this tour thus far – I’ve had quite a bit of time to unwind, which is good and very much needed,” Ashraf said.
The tournament is a brisk one, with the final taking place just two weeks after the first group match was played. This leaves very little room for error for any team, and while Yorkshire might not be the favourites to progress, they could very well spring a few surprises if their bowlers manage to get their deliveries in the slot. DM
Photo by Carmadude http://www.flickr.com/photos/karmadude/