He Khan shine
In his latest blog, Dave Fulton is hoping a former colleague will make his England debut in India.
Last Updated: 09/12/08 11:26am
There might be one or two raised eyebrows should Amjad Khan, the Kent fast bowler, make his Test debut against India this week.
But for this former first-class captain and now sometime hack, it would be an immensely proud moment. You see, I had the pleasure of giving Amjad his Championship debut against Hampshire in 2002.
As former captains like to do, I will try to claim as much credit as possible for his rise to prominence. For starters, the fact he is a Kent player might be because I took him to the local Thai Restaurant and sold him on the Kent vision. And then there was the time - after just two games in fact - when I ignored calls for him to be dropped after some wayward spells, patted him on the back and told him in KP speak that he was the man for me.
You see, I've always thought a fit and firing Amjad Khan was likely to make a Test cricketer. He has all the natural attributes: he can bowl with genuine pace; he can swing the ball both ways, conventionally and reverse and has a slippery bouncer. He's also got a touch of flamboyance with the bat.
But more importantly he's always had that unshakeable belief in his own ability. At times, especially in his youth, that came across as arrogance, but Amjad's matured into a very fine man.
As an international cricketer, who opened the batting and the bowling for Denmark, who spoke five languages and who worked in his spare time as a male model, it was perhaps no surprise that he got a bit over-confident in his early 20s. But Amjad has always had a lot of endearing qualities and has now achieved a good balance between fitting in with his team-mates and standing out in the crowd.
I remember his third game under my captaincy against Yorkshire, who were at that time defending county champions Yorkshire. We plotted how to get Darren Lehmann out as in previous years he had gotten runs for fun against us. Amjad executed the plan brilliantly. He bowled aggressively taking the ball consistently away from Lehmann before swinging a full-ball back into him to trap him lbw. It was high-class stuff. In that innings he took 6-52; in the second innings he bowled even better taking just one wicket but making some very good players look all at sea.
At his best Amjad is a wicket-taking bowler who likes to hit the stumps. He has the pace to push players back and the guile to know when to pitch up. My concern in recent years from a tactical perspective is that he has bowled more of an English line and length, opting for the safety of the channel outside the off stump which has sometimes negated his strengths. If he gets a chance in India I'd urge him to look to hit off stump with a bit of fielding protection on the leg-side.
I hope if he does play that people are realistic with their expectations. He missed the whole of 2007 with a serious knee injury that threatened his career and while he fought back from that - through religiously sticking to a tough rehabilitation programme - he only played six Championship matches in 2008, taking 21 wickets.
He's obviously been doing a lot right at Loughborough and at England's training camp in Abu Dhabi but playing in a match is very different to practice and it's something he's been short of over the last two years.
Hopefully he'll play and he'll show what he's all about. If he does so he could be an exciting proposition come next summer when the Ashes are at stake.