Member Interview : topspin

MenInG

PakPassion Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 2, 2004
Runs
215,786
Many thanks to [MENTION=147314]topspin[/MENTION] for his very comprehensive answers to questions from our members!

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PakPassion.net: What brings you to PakPassion?

topspin:
I felt compelled to join PakPassion because it’s a wonderful platform to interact with like-minded cricket fans, who I’ve found to be knowledgeable and avid followers of the game.

Over the past 20 years I have noticed that the following for Pakistan cricket (here in the UK) is slowly diminishing and the youth are more inclined to watch football and combat sports. I think this trend can be summed up by the regression of Pakistan cricket and their lack of star quality after the 2003 World Cup. So, as you can imagine nearly all of the British Pakistanis I find (including my family and friends) are not exactly well tuned into Pakistan cricket. So, for me cricket simply isn’t cricket without PakPassion.

In addition to cricket, the forum itself also presents opportunities to engage in great discussions on other topics such as politics, desi culture, hobbies & interests and etc.

Although the forum is centred on Pakistan cricket, it is undoubtedly the best cricket forum for any neutral cricket fan because of the sheer quality of posters and moderators. So full credit and thanks to everyone who has contributed to the growth and success story of PakPassion.


PakPassion.net: How will you spend your time with almost no cricket in coming months?

topspin:
It’s a real shame because I was looking forward to some riveting contests this year, particularly the England v Pakistan Test series and the WT20 towards the end of the year. It’s almost certain that both of these events will be cancelled/postponed till next year.

The current pandemic caused by the spread of the coronavirus is something most (if not all) have ever experienced before. As an extrovert I fear that living under lockdown is going to drive me insane but in sha Allah it will be over sooner rather than later.

On the positive side it’s a good chance for me to get closer to my Deen and work on myself especially with Ramadhan coming up soon.


PakPassion.net: How did your interest towards cricket start?

topspin:
My first memory of watching cricket was during my childhood when Pakistan were playing Scotland in the 1999 World Cup. Mind you, it’s hard to believe that our top five (consisting of Saeed Anwar, Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saleem Malik) could only muster 37 runs between them during that game!

Funnily enough, precisely a month later my father had decided we would skip the final (yes, the World Cup Final!) for a day out in Southall. Even as an 8-year-old (during the time) I was very puzzled as to why we weren’t watching it, he told me even before the game, Pakistan would lose. I touched upon this quite recently with him and enquired as to why he had no hope of Pakistan lifting the 1999 World Cup. He explained that whilst the men in green were a solid side on paper, in reality they were no match for Australia’s professionalism. Even to this day his gift of foresight never ceases to amaze me.

A year later my interest in the sport reignited when I went to see my extended family in Gujranwala. This is a trip I will never forget because not only did I enjoy watching Pakistan play (during that West Indies tour) but I also held a bat for the first time with the locals outside where we were staying. This experience inspired me to follow the game religiously and join a cricket club, where I went on to develop my skillset and captain my school team.


PakPassion.net: Why did you choose this particular nickname?

topspin:
I won’t shy away from saying I was a leggie who had this trick up my sleeve. The key to bowling this is to keep an equal distance between middle finger and ring finger as well as the middle finger and the index finger, such that the middle finger is bang in between the two adjacent fingers.


PakPassion.net: How will you feel if Misbah-ul-Haq is ever announced as the Arsenal sporting director?

topspin:
I wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Also, I don’t think he would accept the role unless he was given dual powers (for e.g. Director and Head Coach of Arsenal).

All jokes aside, in current affairs all I can ask of Misbah is to utilise his analytical aptitude that he had displayed during his studies towards an MBA. Although I’m not a fan of his methods, I do believe he is an intelligent man but unfortunately this intelligence of his just doesn’t seem to translate to a respectable cricketing IQ. I won’t say anymore on this topic because my criticism for Misbah is often taken as hate by his ardent supporters, however as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I have no personal dislike for the guy, I just hate what he’s done to Pakistan cricket.


PakPassion.net: Whose top spinners did you love the most?

topspin:
Most people say Shane Warne but in my opinion, I rated Stuart MacGill’s the most because he would get that extra bit of bounce. It was a real shame that he played during the same time as Warne otherwise I believe he could have been an all-time great leggie himself.

Yasir Shah’s top spinners are also lethal when he gets his leg-break turning, as we’ve seen him do in the UAE over the latter half of the 2010s.


PakPassion.net: You hardly see any off-spinners bowling doosras, fearing that they'll be reported. Should there be leniency for off-spin bowlers, in terms of bending the arm more, so that they can bowl the doosra?

topspin:
There is no doubt that with the current rules, modern cricket bats and nature of the wickets in this era, the sport is heavily favoured towards batsmen. Therefore, I do believe cricket could do with some innovation especially due to the scarcity in right arm orthodox bowlers.

I think there would be no harm if an off-spinner can bowl the doosra with a flex of no more than 20 degrees as long as the speed didn’t exceed 55mph, however monitoring this simply isn’t practical.
I felt cricket was richer in the 2000s with the presence of high class off-spinners such as Saqlain, Muralitharan and Harbhajan but under the current regulations I do believe they would all have suffered the same fate as Saeed Ajmal, following ICC’s clampdown on right-arm unorthodox spinners in 2014 (just prior to the 2015 WC).

Speaking of Saeed Ajmal, it went all out of hand when bowlers such as him were bowling well beyond the 15 degree rule and disguising the practice with full sleeves, so they could chuck away, whether it be with a 60mph quicker deliveries or doosras.

Overall, I think the current regulations on the bend of the arm are in the best interests of the game.


PakPassion.net: Also, who are your top 5 favourite cricketers?

topspin:
It is only fair and relevant for me to name my top 5 from my time. So, having commenced watching cricket from 1999, my top five from then up until now are as follows (in chronological order):

1. Wasim Akram
2. Shane Warne
3. Brian Lara
4. Adam Gilchrist
5. Virat Kohli


PakPassion.net: Saqlain Mushtaq or Muttiah Muralitharan – Who was better spinner?

topspin:
Muralitharan, however in ODIs and for tests played in India and Australia, I would pick Saqlain because his record in these events were superior to his Sri Lankan counterpart.

I was a big fan of Saqlain during his prime but unfortunately, he does not have the longevity that Muralitharan had because the latter was able to take over 1300 international wickets over the course of his career, whereas the Pakistani spin doctor only accomplished about a third of this.

Even to this day I cannot explain why his career ended so quickly.


PakPassion.net: Do you agree/disagree with Viv Richards when he said that If there is a better batsman than Sachin then he hasn't arrived yet!

topspin:
If Steve Smith can somehow maintain his stupendous batting record after 150 tests then I would have to disagree with Sir Viv Richards. To date he is the best batsman I have personally ever witnessed.

But having said that things can change and it will be a challenge for Steve to maintain his 60+ average until the end of his career. If it dips under 60, one could argue he was inferior to Tendulkar because the latter played in the toughest decade for batting, as evident by the test batting average of 37-38 in the 90s, which was the second lowest after the 1930s. Let’s also not forget Tendulkar averaged 62 in his peak years between 1993-2002 but still finished with a career average almost 10 runs less at 53.79 (albeit having played 15-20 tests too many).

For now, Steve Smith is halfway there. I can already envisage a Steve Smith v Tendulkar v Kohli thread on here around 5 years’ time and it will be fascinating to see what the verdict will be on this topic.


PakPassion.net: How do you view Babar Azam as a captain?

topspin:
Definitely one of the top 2 or 3 leading contenders to captain Pakistan (in each format), as he leads by example with his batting and is undoubtedly the side’s best player.

Personally, I have Amir and Imad Wasim ahead of him in LOIs and I prefer Shan Masood to lead in red ball cricket. They have the cricketing intelligence, composure and proven ability to carry themselves on and off the field, barring Amir’s antics in 2010 – but we cannot hold a sin he committed ten years ago against him forever. I have no issues with Babar leading the T20I team as I feel this will be an invaluable experience for him when he’s ready to lead Pakistan in all formats within the next few years.


PakPassion.net: What changes would you bring to ECB to put some limelight or projects that will help for minority such as British Asians in top level cricket?

topspin:
An excellent question and indeed a valid concern, when you consider 30% of club cricketers in the UK are Asian and yet only 4-5% are found in the country circuit at present. There was some interesting research carried out by ECB last year, where they found cricket drinking culture deterred British Asian players from getting to the top.

Personally, I think this problem goes beyond the “drinking culture”. Cricket in the UK has always been an elitist sport and if you happen to be a member of a cricket club/school which has a more elitist reputation, you sit in a better position compared to most British Asian cricketers.
If ECB is serious about addressing the problem, it needs to diversify its talent pool especially in areas with a higher Asian population.


PakPassion.net: One cricketer you hated to watch play for whatever reason such as batting technique, fitness or etc.

topspin:
Shivnarine Chanderpaul

For 2 reasons:

1. As harsh as it sounds, his batting stance, limited shot range and overall batting technique was an eye sore for me

2. When West Indies needed him to bat up the order, in order to shield the inexperience found in the top order, he selfishly continued to bat down at 5/6 and score his runs very sedately. It was to no surprise to find that his runs had negligible impact to the fortunes of West Indies’ batting.


PakPassion.net: Wasim or Waqar – who was better?

topspin:
Waqar Younis had one of the most devastating peaks seen in the history of test cricket, where he took 177 wickets at an average 17.31. The way he was going he had a real opportunity to become the best test bowler of all time, however a back injury set him back. This meant he had to remodel himself from an express demon to a fast-medium swing bowler. In terms of pace he lost 10-15km/h.

Wasim Akram also had his trials and tribulations when he found he had diabetes. For those who had the privilege to follow his career would have seen a noticeable drop in quality of his bowling from the late 90s up until his last years of playing international cricket.

In terms of sheer skill, I have never seen a bowler as skilled as Wasim Akram. He also gets the nod over Waqar Younis because when he was far superior to his bowling partner when the stakes were higher. This can be illustrated by Wasim’s superior World Cup bowling performances and test record in India and Australia.
 
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So [MENTION=147314]topspin[/MENTION] - you mention that you are spinner! What level of cricket did you play upto or do?
 
Good answers.

A bit disappointed by the Misbah comments. Was expecting something more fiery :misbah3
 
Really good interview, enjoyed reading it.
 
So [MENTION=147314]topspin[/MENTION] - you mention that you are spinner! What level of cricket did you play upto or do?

In my youth (at colts level), I played at District level and began playing mens cricket for the friendly matches when I was 12. This experience was instrumental to developing my leg-spin bowling and my elders were kind enough to teach me how to bowl variations, including the top-spinner and googly.

I was also fortunate to captain one of the best school teams in the South of England from 2006 to 2009.

During my uni years, I relished the long summers of playing first team cricket for my local club, despite skipping net sessions over the winter.

Nowadays I like to make the most of the weekends and merely stick to midweek cricket on Wednesdays (after work). These matches are 15 over contests, where each over consists of 8 balls, so in total 120 balls per innings like T20 cricket.
 
Great interview. Really was interested in your take of British Asians in cricket.
 
Great interview. Really was interested in your take of British Asians in cricket.

Thank you for your kind words bro. The fact that this matter is more under the spotlight is some progress in addressing the issue but I do think ECB is slyly trying to brush it under the carpet over the "drinking culture" claims.
 
A good read.

Well done [MENTION=147314]topspin[/MENTION]
 
[MENTION=147314]topspin[/MENTION]
100% agreed. Its great to see this put more spotlight upon. With Moeen Ali exploits for England, you never know what kind of hidden gems are waiting to be unearth. More should be done to facilitate British Asians in sports in general and it would have made sense to start it from cricket.
 
[MENTION=147314]topspin[/MENTION]
Great read, and thanks for answering my offspin doosra question.

I get that the current arm bending regulations are in the best interests of the game but it’s pretty much costed the chance to bowl doosras. It’s like if leg spinners were afraid to bowl googlies because of bowling regulations. Maybe the icc could run a trial of a bunch of off spinners consistently bowling doosras and then calculating the average degree that the arm is being bent; that way, they could set the new arm bending limit for off spinners based on that degree average, and create more leeway for bowling doosras.
 
Good interview.

[MENTION=147314]topspin[/MENTION]
Great read, and thanks for answering my offspin doosra question.

I get that the current arm bending regulations are in the best interests of the game but it’s pretty much costed the chance to bowl doosras. It’s like if leg spinners were afraid to bowl googlies because of bowling regulations. Maybe the icc could run a trial of a bunch of off spinners consistently bowling doosras and then calculating the average degree that the arm is being bent; that way, they could set the new arm bending limit for off spinners based on that degree average, and create more leeway for bowling doosras.

Much appreciated and thank you for your questions.

[MENTION=143928]TeamPak95[/MENTION] I like the idea of this experiment. It would be interesting to see how many offies can bowl a doosra without exceeding the 15 degree limit excessively because cricket could do with some added mystery to restore some balance between the contest with bat and ball. As mentioned in my response, what I don't want to see is bowlers abusing that, so we end up seeing what Ajmal was doing in 2014 with his 60mph quicker deliveries and doosras bowled in excess of 3x the legal limit.
 
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Another chance to read this brilliant interview.
 
topspin: I wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Also, I don’t think he would accept the role unless he was given dual powers (for e.g. Director and Head Coach of Arsenal).

All jokes aside, in current affairs all I can ask of Misbah is to utilise his analytical aptitude that he had displayed during his studies towards an MBA. Although I’m not a fan of his methods, I do believe he is an intelligent man but unfortunately this intelligence of his just doesn’t seem to translate to a respectable cricketing IQ. I won’t say anymore on this topic because my criticism for Misbah is often taken as hate by his ardent supporters, however as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I have no personal dislike for the guy, I just hate what he’s done to Pakistan cricket.

Misbah obtaining that MBA isn’t going to do anything good. All it does it will pad that resumé so when an opportunity for an executive PCB position becomes available, Misbah will be handed the job. There is already a lot of favoritism from a particular former PCB chairman for the former batter.

@topspin
 
Misbah obtaining that MBA isn’t going to do anything good. All it does it will pad that resumé so when an opportunity for an executive PCB position becomes available, Misbah will be handed the job. There is already a lot of favoritism from a particular former PCB chairman for the former batter.

@topspin

I completely agree. I wish I could go back in time and revise this answer.

It's because all of the Misbah fans used to go on about how "intelligent" he is and go gaga about his MBA. It was later on when a couple of posters advised me that he actually graduated from a 3rd institution in Pakistan. Now I realise why he's not been able to carry his aptitude and analytical qualities into cricket like the way Michael Atherton (Cambridge University) and Nasser Hussain (studied Natural Sciences at Durham University) have.

Also, I completely agree, Misbah's MBA is going to haunt Pakistan cricket when he becomes CEO or Chairman of the PCB. The sad reality is he ain't going away. People who think now that's he's staying clear of coaching and selecting, "it'll be fine" are going to be in for a rude awakening.
 
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