Rana Naved: Aiming to Entertain

Rana Naved, the leading wicket-taker in Australian Twenty20 cricket this year and with 87 caps for Pakistan, talks to Tom Holdcroft about joining the Derbyshire Falcons

On 14th February 2012 Derbyshire County Cricket Club announced the signing of Pakistani international Rana Naved. Before another 24 hours had elapsed, Naved’s former county, Sussex – a renowned powerhouse of the modern game – had admitted that they too were vying to sign the all-rounder, but that Derbyshire had made an offer the player couldn’t refuse.

For Derbyshire’s members and supporters this was good news on two levels. Excitement regarding the ‘capture’ of one of the leading ‘death bowlers’ in the world was combined with pride that the Falcons were now competing with the likes of Sussex for prized assets such as Naved.

The re-signing of New Zealand international Martin Guptill for the early part of the campaign, was further evidence of the club’s ability to attract big names to the County Ground, although his international commitments for the Black Caps will rule the powerful opener out of the Friends Life t20 competition this summer. As England & Wales Cricket Board rules allow counties to engage the services of two overseas players for this competition, the Falcons will be able to play Naved alongside Australian international batsman Usman Khawaja who is replacing Guptill as the first overseas player for the remainder of the season.

Naved will arrive in good time for the start of the midsummer showpiece in June and July when the Falcons will play ten matches – five at home – in pursuit of the ‘holy grail’ of a Quarter Final tie – with the possibility of a trip to Finals Day at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday 25th August.

The 34-year-old, who has 87 caps for Pakistan, is already looking forward to the challenge and he believes his work ethic will be the key to success. ‘I’m due to arrive at the County Ground next month and I’m looking forward to getting some practice with new team mates and to playing for Derbyshire,’ he told me. ‘Friends Life t20 is a very good competition, every county is strong, it is good cricket to watch and it’s enjoyable to play in front of the big crowds.

‘I haven’t made any plan other than to take it game-by-game with the aim of reaching the quarter-finals. Then there are three more knockout games in which anything can happen.

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‘Hard work is the key and everyone who knows me will know that’s in my nature.’

Naved’s most memorable recent cricket has been played in the notoriously strong KFC Twenty20 Big Bash competition in Australia, where he represents Hobart Hurricanes and was the competition’s leading wicket taker in 2012.

As well as enjoying success on the field, Naved forged an excellent rapport with the Aussie crowds, gaining cult hero status very quickly and earning nicknames such as ‘The Flying Doormat’ and ‘The People’s Mullet’.

He said: ‘Every team in the Big Bash has big players and their competition is consequently very, very strong. I have learned a lot from playing over there, as I have from six years of County Cricket with Sussex and Yorkshire, and I will try hard to apply all that experience during my time with Derbyshire this summer. The crowds were very nice to me over there and I think it’s important to interact with them, give them feedback during a game and make them happy. Hopefully the same thing will happen with the Derbyshire crowd this summer.’

But Naved hasn’t earned his success on the world stage simply by being a crowd pleaser. He has become an expert in the specialist skills necessary when required to bowl at the beginning and end of an innings when the pressure is on. ‘Cricket is changing fast and bowlers must continue to adapt,’ he commented. ‘But for me it is about reading the batsman, assessing the situation and bowling in the right areas accordingly.

‘In Twenty20 and one-day cricket it is very important that all six deliveries in an over are different. And having a good slower ball is also very helpful in the modern game. We play on very good batting tracks in Asia, so I enjoy bowling in England, Australia and South Africa on more sporting pitches. But I have got used to playing in all conditions. The secret is not to think about it and to get on with bowling my own way.’

As well as playing Twenty20 cricket around the world – and plenty of international cricket with Pakistan – Naved is also a stalwart of the county game having enjoyed previous spells with Sussex and Yorkshire, winning the County Championship with the south coast club in 2006 and 2007. Now Naved is hoping to bring the secrets of that success to his new county.

‘First and foremost they had very good players and very good management,’ he said. ‘But also, importantly, the whole squad behaved like brothers. The club was like a big family and that is the key to winning trophies. Hopefully we can create something similar at Derbyshire.’

Derbyshire Falcons Friends Life t20 fixtures 2012

Thursday 14th June, v Lancashire Lightning, 7pm, *�13 (Jnrs �6)

Monday 18th June, v Yorkshire Carnegie, 7.10pm (Live on SKY Sports), *�13 (Jnrs �6)

Wednesday 20th June, v Durham Dynamos, 7pm, *�13 (Jnrs �6)

Friday 29th June, v Leicestershire Foxes, 7pm, *�13 (Jnrs �6)

Friday 6th July, Nottinghamshire Outlaws, 7pm, *�13 (Jnrs �6)

* Advance ticket prices. On the day tickets are �16 Adults, �8 Juniors.

The Award Winning FREE Membership for Juniors has now reached 1,000 Junior Members. Juniors aged 0-13 on 31st March 2012 can watch all Derbyshire home cricket for FREE by becoming a Junior Member for FREE.

Tickets: 01332 388 101 or buy online from derbyshireccc.com

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