Shahzad Kamal is very quiet and soft spoken, but this banker by profession does a lot of talking with his bat. He showed his class with a match winning 75 not out in Cricket Cranes 3rd ODI against Kenya during the Easter Series.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan but now playing for his adopted nation Uganda, his father played first class cricket in Pakistan and holds a batting record.
Shahzad is loving playing for Uganda and this will be his 2nd major ICC Tournament for Uganda since he made his debut in South Africa in 2015.
Locally Shahzad plays for Challengers Cricket Club but has previously played for Aziz Damani, Warriors and Nile Cricket Club.
Little is known about Shahzad but we caught up with him and here is the full interview.
People want to know who is Shahzad?
First your Full Name: Shahzad Kamal
Question: Who is Shahzad Kamal ?
Answer: I am a left hand batsman and occasionally bowl left arm spin. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan.
I belong to a cricketing family. My father and uncle played first class cricket in Pakistan. My father was an opening batsman and a wicket keeper.
He still holds the Pakistan record of highest opening partnership of 418 runs back in 1980’s. My uncle has also played against the great West Indies team of 80’s when they toured Pakistan.
One more interesting fact, I am naturally a right hander but grew up watching the Legendary “Wasim Akram”. I was so obsessed by him that I started batting and bowling with my left hand.
Question: This is going to be your 1st ICC tournament for Uganda, how are you preparing individually?
Answer: It will be my second ICC tournament. As I am a banker by profession, it gets a bit difficult to train with the team during the day. The coaches and support staff have been flexible and have assisted me to train in the evening after work.
ICC tournaments add more pressure on a player. Therefore my focus is to prepare myself mentally for these pressure games along with the physical fitness.
Question: Batting has been a problem for Uganda for so long, during the Takashinga and Kenya series who showed that you can help our batting woes. Does this put some extra pressure on you?
Answer: Playing for the national team itself adds a lot of pressure. It’s an honour but it also brings lot of pressure to perform for the country.
The important thing is how you handle it. We have practice sessions based on match scenario or situation. This helps a lot to ease of pressure when going in the actual game.
I also personally do certain preparations a day before the game to help me calm myself going into the match.
Question: What is the highest grade of cricket you have played besides international cricket?
Answer: I have been playing division cricket in Uganda for some years now. I have also played league cricket in Karachi.
Question: Since you joined the team, what is the group like in terms of chemistry and helping you fit in?
Answer: I became part of the national team in 2015. Everyone from day one welcomed me with open arms.
All the players and support staff have always been very helpful. The good thing is that I play with most of them in league games. Therefore gelling up with the team was not difficult.
Question: What has been your impression of Coach Steve Tikolo and how much has he added to your own game?
Answer: He is a very influential personality. Everyone in the team holds him in high regards. The work he has done in the last eight months over us itself has shown great results which was potrayed during the Kenya series.
I am fortunate enough to play with him in two capacities: Under his coaching and also as a player during league matches.
Question: Your dad is a constant every time you have played for Uganda, he is always very nervous when you are batting? This is not common in Uganda for a parent to come watch his child do what they like, tell us how much this means to you and has he been doing this since you were a child?
Answer: As I mentioned my father was a great player of his time. It was unfortunate that he could’nt represent Pakistan. He always wanted me to play for the national team and he extended his support right from my schooling. Wearing the national colour is always special regardless of the nation and the sport you play.
Playing for the National team, I feel I’m living his dream. I always try to locate him whenever I enter the field. His presence gives me a sense of comfort and brings a claming effect to my batting.
No words can express how special it is when you have your mentor and guardian watching you.
Question: During the kenya series u showed off your all round skills by keeping wickets when Roger had to bowl, from bowling, batting what do you enjoy the most?
Answer: Yeah! I used to keep wickets during my school days. That’s how special it is playing for the national team.
You try your level best to contribute to team’s victory in any capacity.
Of course any time of the day I would rather pick my bat and rush at the wicket.
Question: How have you managed to juggle your office job with full time training for the national team?
Answer: The coach and management have been very supportive to me. They are flexible with the timings. I do one to one training sessions with the coaches in the evening after work and also during the weekend to cover for the lost time.
We also discuss a lot about the game and my performance. What is expected of me and how to approach the game.
Question: In case we get promoted to Div 2, what do you think we need to do to stay there and maintain that status?
Answer: The team is performing well in all areas. I feel we just need to be more consistent with our performance.
Just be mentally strong regardless to whichever team we play.
The team is heading in the right direction. It won’t be long before we see Uganda winning big tournaments consistently.
Just for laughs,
Question: who is the funniest player on the team?
Answer: Derrick Bakunzi
Question: Best dresser?
Answer: I will say Kyobe Arthur
Question: Worst dresser?
Question: Favorite Uganda food?
Question: If a catch that wins Uganda a game came, who would you want to be under it?
Answer: Gosh! We have a lot of good fielders in the team.
Dues, Roger, Masaba… list goes on
Question: How long will you play for team Uganda?
Answer: Until I don’t become a liability on the team