Member Interview : Shayan


Senior T20I Player
Feb 4, 2005
Hello fellow PPers!

I'm pleased to announce the resumption of our Member Interviews and this time we are interrogating our very own man leading from Leeds, a member of the clique moderating on PakPassion, and one of the most admired; seasoned and dexterous posters of the PP fraternity, none other than - Shayan

Shayan has been a member of PakPassion since January 2005 and has racked up more than 11,000 posts since his debut. He has been a moderator for about 18 months and was fortunate enough to be part of the team that traveled around the UK to bring you coverage of the recent ICC Champions Trophy.

I would like to thank Shayan for taking the time out to answer our questions with some great responses. I am sure all of you will enjoy it!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What is your first memory of cricket?

Shayan: I’d like to say it’s the 1992 World Cup Final, but that’s a bit of a lie (I was only 4!). We had (and still have) the highlights of the game recorded on VHS and I just remember watching that repeatedly at home. So that’s probably the earliest match I recall even though I don’t remember seeing it live.

Pakistan’s tour of England in 1996 is probably my first memory of live cricket. It might have been the first time I properly saw Wasim and Waqar play and I was mesmerised. Pakistan were on top form in that Test series and the spectacular England collapse became a common occurrence!

Apart from that, cricket is big in my family and my two older brothers and I were regularly in the back garden playing (I was usually the fielder!). When it was raining, we would resort to indoor corridor cricket, much to the annoyance of my mother (plenty of broken stuff over the years!). When was the first time you realized you are a fan of Pakistan Cricket team?

Shayan: Tough question! There weren’t many Pakistan games that were televised in the UK (I didn’t have Sky subscription anyway) so I just remember following the matches on Ceefax from a very early age. As mentioned above, my first memory of live cricket is 1996 so I’ll go with that. Aren't you depressed about the sorry state of Pakistan cricket at the moment and thinking of leaving it forever?

Shayan: Not really. I’m a firm believer that you don’t follow a sports team because they win all the time; you support them because it entertains you, it’s a hobby. Yes, it’s disappointing when Pakistan lose but I watch cricket because I love the game and I want to be entertained, not because I desperately need my team to win. Pakistan is a team that can entertain you thoroughly both in victory and defeat – there’s a reason why so many neutrals love watching them! I genuinely believe we are the most entertaining sports team in the world to follow (both for on and off-field activities!) and I think that’s something we should be proud of rather than worrying about whether or not we’re the best team in the world. Do you have the same passion for Pakistan cricket that you used to have when superstars such as Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam and so on used to play in the same team?

Shayan: Another difficult one for me as I’m at the age where I perhaps missed a lot of international cricket during the peaks of the players you’ve mentioned – or at least I was a bit too young to appreciate it. I feel that cricket, and sports in general, run in cycles. Pakistan had a fantastic period in the 90s, full of fantastic players and now we’re struggling a bit. We’re seeing the Aussies have difficulties in replicating the dominance they had with the likes of Warne and McGrath in their team. India weren’t much to write home about in the 90s, yet in the last few years they’ve become one of the world’s top sides. Everyone talks about the talent in Pakistan and we all know it’s there. Pakistan will be back. What do you think is fundamentally wrong with Pakistan cricket at the moment?

Shayan: Two things. I don’t think domestic cricket is of a particularly great standard. Our players make the step up and the step up is a bit too big at the moment. Aside from that, we don’t seem to pick our best domestic players. I’ve written extensively on Fawad Alam and think he’s a prime example of someone who simply hasn’t been given a fair chance at Test level, despite his hundred on debut. It’s clear there’s still a lot of corruption and nepotism which needs sorting. What changes would you make to get the Pakistan team back on track?

Shayan: Get rid of any political influence in cricket, as the ICC are attempting to do. I think that will automatically solve a lot of problems. I’d also like to see a reduction in the number of domestic tournaments and teams. It will increase the quality of cricket and make the matches more important – players will know they have limited opportunities to impress the national selectors. Which cricketer(s) would you want to meet and have dinner with?

Shayan: I’m not one of those people who is desperate to meet and interact with cricketers. I admire these guys because of what they do on the field, I don’t really know what they get up to off the field and I don’t really care. So I’ve never really thought about who I would like to have dinner with.

Having said that, if I had to pick I’d go with Saeed Ajmal and Hashim Amla. Both seem like top guys. What is your second favorite team after Pakistan?

Shayan: I don’t have a second favourite team. All my passion is used up in supporting Pakistan and if I did have a 2nd favourite, there would be such a wide gulf between my support for it and Pakistan that it would be unfair to call it 2nd favourite. Usually if I’m watching a match not involving Pakistan I have a preferred winner (usually the underdog), but I can’t say I have a second favourite team. Who is your favorite cricketer and why?

Shayan: Current favourite – I’d say Misbah-Ul-Haq. I think what he has done with this team since the spot-fixing stuff in 2010 has been remarkable. He gets an incredible amount of criticism, yet he just keeps coming back and shutting people up with his performances. It’s fantastic and he clearly just wants to do the best he can for Pakistan cricket. We can’t ask for much more. At which grounds have you watched cricket and which one did you enjoy the most being at?

Shayan: Headingley, Edgbaston, The Oval, Lords, Trent Bridge, Durham, Old Trafford.

My role with PakPassion has given me the opportunity to travel the country and see a lot of these grounds. In terms of my favourite, I’d say it was the Oval because of my excitement leading up to it. It was the first match of the Champions Trophy and it was going to be my first taste of watching Pakistan play from the comfort of the press box. It turned out to be a tightly fought game and the crowd was fantastic, it was an incredible experience.

Technically I’ve also been to Colombo, Kandy, Galle and Dambulla but that was to play rather than watch. I went on a cricket tour to Sri Lanka when I was 15 and it involved playing other local schools at the aforementioned Test venues. It’s something I’ll never forget. As a viewer, what is the greatest match you have watched (ODIs and Tests both, but mentioned separately)?

Shayan: ODIs – the 1st ODI between Pakistan and India at Karachi in 2004. The build-up to that series was so so intense and the 1st game completely lived up to the hype. Sehwag smashed us all over the place then Dravid got 99 as India made 349. I assumed we had no chance but Inzi and Yousuf had other ideas. It got down to a six needed off the final ball and Moin Khan didn’t manage it. But what a game.

Test – I’ll say the Australia vs Pakistan match at Headingley. For someone living in the UK, it’s rare to get to watch Pakistan play live so to suddenly have a “Home” Pakistan Test match being played in my own city was very memorable – more so when Australia were 88 all out! Shahid Afridi - good or bad for Pakistan?

I’d need all day to answer this properly. On the whole – good. The excitement and entertainment he has brought to Pakistan cricket cannot be underestimated – that is after all the reason I watch the game, to be entertained. Although he has undoubtedly been given more opportunities than he would have done had he not had such a huge fan base or if he played for another country. Do you play cricket yourself and if so, how good/bad you are at it? Do you play cricket at the club level?

Shayan: Yes, I play regularly at club level. During the summer I play for a club called Old Leos where I’ve played for over 15 years. The standard isn’t very high but I play for the enjoyment. I know my teammates, we have a laugh and don’t worry about taking it too seriously. I was never good enough to play at a very high level so I prefer to just have it as a pastime and not something I get worked up about.

This winter, I’ve also been playing in an indoor cricket league at Headingley on Sunday evenings. It’s great entertainment and very good exercise. I’d highly recommend it for those of you that play regularly and then have nothing to do over the winter. What part of Leeds are you from? How was it growing up as a young British Pakistani in the UK, especially considering the rough city that Leeds used to be or still is?

Shayan: Live in the north east of Leeds, near the edge – quite a lot of countryside around me. Think I was fortunate to be sent to a good school and live in a good area where the issue of being a British Pakistani never arose. I’ve never seen Leeds as a particularly rough city – it has a couple of rougher areas but doesn’t every city? Will Leeds ever make it back to the Premier League?

Shayan: Not much of a football fan but I don’t see why not. They’re not that far off now. Do you find writing hard work? Do ideas and words keep flowing in for you or do you often have to push your mind to generate them?

Shayan: Depends what I’m writing about. Some of the opinion pieces I’ve written for Pakpassion have been no problem at all, I just write what I think. Sometimes writing requires a lot of research and that’s what takes up the time. I also go back and edit a lot of what I write to try to perfect it - it’s a time consuming task!

Writing an article using quotes can be difficult as you have to think of words to go around the quotes. I do struggle with that sometimes but I enjoy doing it so it doesn’t seem like a chore. In the 15th episode of "View from the Pavilion", Umar Amin's appointment as captain was discussed, and you thought that it was a positive move. Do you still standby with what you said? Considering Umar Amin hasn't been able to register his spot as a player so far, was that really a right decision to indicate him as a future captain?

Shayan: Still think it was a good decision. You can’t predict a player’s form. If you name someone captain and he suddenly has a run of poor form, it doesn’t make the original decision a bad one. We need to start grooming a youngster now for the captaincy and in my opinion Umar Amin was as good a choice as any. Shayan, did not realize you are a fellow accountant. When did you qualify?

Shayan: Technically not a Chartered Account. I work in Corporate Tax and in August I qualified as a Chartered Tax Adviser. In terms of you career, are you currently where you expected to be after this amount of time as an Accountant (explain your current role) and where do you expect your career to be in 5 years’ time?

Shayan: Yes, pretty much where I expected to be given my age and the time it takes to get qualified. I’d hope to be at manager/senior manager level in the next 5 years but I’m also looking at careers in the Middle East. If I can find a suitable role I’d love to move out there, at least on a temporary basis. How difficult is it to manage between passion and profession?

Shayan: Tough. More so now with my role on PP. It’s hard to describe the amount of work that goes into PakPassion behind the scenes – there’s a lot to it. I wouldn’t change a thing though because thankfully things are going well in my profession and, given my love for cricket and especially Pakistan cricket, you couldn’t have a much better situation than working for PakPassion! You were part of PakPassion's team at the Champions Trophy, how was the experience?

Shayan: Love this question. I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life (despite Pakistan doing so badly). I can’t thank Saj and PakPassion enough for giving me the opportunity to attend these matches, sit in the press box and have the best view possible of the action. I recall the night before the West Indies match after my place in the press box had been confirmed, I couldn’t sleep at all! I left for the ground hours before the game and was the first member of the press inside the box – the whole stadium was pretty much empty! I just couldn’t contain my excitement.

After that I went to the South Africa match, the India match, and then the final. I still can’t quite get over how fortunate I was to attend all those games as a member of the press. I recall one instance when I was queuing up for lunch, the person in front of me in the queue was Michael Atherton and then I looked behind me to see Shane Warne stood there, plate in hand! Small things like that just made the experience unforgettable and I look forward to being involved with PP long into the future and having many more experiences like I did this summer. You are a PP moderator and doing a great job. How many hours do you spend on PakPassion doing work behind the scenes? And what sort of jobs do you do?

Shayan: Firstly, thank you! I spend probably a few hours a day on PakPassion work, slightly less than I would like to but my own work has become a lot busier lately. I do a bit of everything from moderating, handling the twitter and facebook accounts, keeping the homepage up-to-date, to writing up interviews. There’s a lot of work involved but I don’t really consider it “work”. It’s a hobby. It's a known fact that you love Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. There are people who prefer him over the great late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and vice versa. Whom do you prefer and why?

Shayan: Unfortunately I never saw Nusrat perform live. I got into his music at university when my Pakistani friends and I listened to his songs on Youtube. I then had the opportunity to watch Rahat in Manchester – loved it so much that I’ve been to another four of his concerts since! I think Rahat has modernised the style of the music and it therefore appeals to a lot more people. I think he deserves immense credit for that. I wouldn’t say he’s better than Nusrat, but he’s certainly got his own unique style. Misbah - saviour, villain, or something in between?

Shayan: Saviour. As I’ve said earlier, he has done everything he can for the Pakistan team with, let’s face it, fairly limited talent. If every one of our players maximised their talent the way Misbah has done, we would be world beaters. Favourite TV programme?

Shayan: Prison Break season 1. Hard to top. If you could travel anywhere and do anything, what would you do?

Shayan: Easy - I would follow the Pakistan cricket team and watch every single one of their matches.

Again, thanks to Shayan for the wonderful responses above.
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Great answers. All of them!
Esp the 3rd question about sorry state of Pakistan cricket. Sometimes, we as fans, tend to get over emotional about results and forget that after all its all part of the game!
nice answers except the Afridi one :D
good to know you got to cover all the CT matches .
Fantastic interview. I'm glad you guys have resumed these. I wish there was an easy way to read everyone's interviews. (or is there?)
Great to see both my questions in there :)

Great interview, this is the first members interview I've read wholly from start to finish (apart from my own :p)
Thanks for the comments.

Fantastic interview. I'm glad you guys have resumed these. I wish there was an easy way to read everyone's interviews. (or is there?)

I'm not sure about this but will check.
Great Interview.

Respect Shayan for naming MIsbah as his favourite, totally deserves it.

Overall Shayan is a top guy. Keep up the good and hard work
Some interesting views from Shayan. Still I cant imagine how he manages juggling between Profession, hobbie and personal life.
Brilliant interview and well thought out answers by Shayan. Great read.
Shayan - a top bloke. Always loved his balanced approach to potentially excitable questions or topics. A great interview and I was pleased to read honest and straight answers. Keep it up!
Good interview, enjoyed that. I think these interviews add a much needed window into the real world as opposed to the cyber one which often turns into a battleground.
As expected, a good read!

Had the pleasure of meeting Shayan at the Champions Trophy matches (in addition to our daily PakPassion interactions) and can confirm it's not an act - he's a top man.

Shayan, you are wrong about Misbah though. Always :))
Nice balanced approach to all questions.overall a good read Shayan. :)
Top interview !
Top colleague !
Top man !
PakPassion Member Interview...Presenting Shayan!

Top interview !
Top colleague !
Top man !

Indeed! Very fascinating interview! Shayan bhai has always been amongst the most fair, unbiased posters and his opinion due to these reasons counts for me personally. Very balanced!
Great read this, it's so pleasing to see people such as Shayan put so much effort into pakpassion whilst having to do their own work. I would like to thank the pakpassion team for their continued efforts on this site. Great job!!!.
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I used to like Shayan before but since he's become more popular than me.... :D

Excellent stuff - a pleasure to work with as a colleague and a knowledgeable posters as well!
Another chance to read Shayan's excellent interview!