Rauf ramps up the speed to put BBL on notice
Last summer's breakout star Haris Rauf has promised to be bowling even faster this year as he eyes T20 World Cup and BBL return
11 May 2020, 07:47 PM AEST
Haris Rauf burst onto the scene during last summer's KFC BBL after being plucked from club cricket but has warned a return this summer will come with an extra sting in the tail for opposition batsmen.
The 26-year-old who shone with the Melbourne Stars, including collecting a hat-trick and a five-wicket haul in separate matches – has warned he's ramping up the speed ahead of a potential return for BBL|10.
Rauf has been idle since the Pakistan Super League tournament was cut short, allowing him time to recover from a heel injury. He's since been building up his strength and stamina with his coach, the former Pakistan seamer Aaqib Javed, with one simple goal in mind: bowl even faster.
"Speed plays a huge role in every fast-bowlers armoury and our coach Aaqib Javed has worked very hard on that aspect with me," Rauf told pakpassion.net.
"To me, the number that counts for any fast-bowler is the average pace that one can bowl at, and currently my average ranges between 143-146kph.
However, since I have a few months at my disposal due to no cricket being played, I intend to work hard and improve my average pace and aim to regularly hit speeds of around 155kph."
Rauf claimed 20 wickets in his maiden BBL campaign that saw him shoot to international stardom and had him fast-tracked into Pakistan's T20 team.
"I feel that coach David Hussey and captain Glenn Maxwell’s confidence in my abilities was the key factor in my excellent performances in the BBL," Rauf said.
"Maxwell had extraordinary confidence in my ability to bowl and used me where I was of most use to the team.
"He went out of his way to support me whilst we were on the field and for my part, I repaid him by bowling to the plan and to the fields he set for me.
"I knew that the players there were good at playing cut and pull shots, so I bowled wicket to wicket and that was a major reason for my success there.
"I was in very good form and felt that not many batsmen could get the better of me."
Rauf's rise was the stuff of cricketing fairytales. Born in Rawalpindi – the home of Shoaib Akhtar – he developed his speed while playing tape ball cricket in the city's streets. He snuck into an open trial for the Lahore Qalanders where his raw pace won him a spot on the Pakistan Super League franchise's development programme.
That took him to Australia where Lahore had tie-ins with club cricket in NSW and Tasmania. He was playing for Tasmanian club Glenorchy when an SOS arrived from the Melbourne Stars, who needed a fast bowler after South Africa legend Dale Steyn arrived with an injury.
"Dale Steyn has been my role model ever since I started to play cricket and to be in the same team as him at the BBL was absolutely thrilling. To be told that I was replacing him as he had to return for international duties was shocking as I could never have imagined that I would be good enough to take the place of my role-model," Rauf said.
"I was very happy to meet him, and I can tell you that he is a wonderful teacher. He gave me tips in the nets and gave me a lot of advice about how to go about my game and what attitude to adopt.
"In particular, he told me about the aggression that I need to have as a fast-bowler and since then I have tried to adopt that attitude for myself.
"He also gave me advice about fitness and on the outswinger which I am now working on. He is a great teacher and he still remains my adviser today as I keep on talking to him to ask him for his help."
Rauf's stunning success saw him fast tracked into Pakistan's T20 team for two games against Bangladesh before returning for the Stars ultimately unsuccessful finals campaign.
Rauf, who is yet to sign on for BBL|10 with the clubs still under a contracting embargo period, has his sights set on a spot in Pakistan's T20 World Cup squad.
"Even at the time that I was playing in the BBL, my mind was focussed on performing well to try and get a spot in Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad," Rauf said.
"Given that the World Cup will be held in Australia, my aim was to perform well in the BBL in the same country to show everyone that I understood the conditions well, and I am pleased that I was able to make a mark in that tournament."