Stars pluck Steyn sub from Tasmania Premier cricket
Unheralded Pakistan seamer Haris Rauf a last-minute call-up for a shock BBL debut after South African star arrives injured
19 December 2019, 03:08 PM AEST
The Melbourne Stars have been forced into an 11th hour squad change, plucking a Pakistani speedster out of Tasmanian Premier Cricket to replace South African superstar Dale Steyn.
Haris Rauf, a 24-year-old from Rawalpindi who lists Steyn as his idol, was last weekend bowling for the Glenorchy Magpies in Tasmania's Premier League first grade T20 competition, where he knocked over Hobart Hurricanes opener D'Arcy Short.
In his third match of the summer, Haris took 4-12 in four overs for Glenorchy against Short's Clarence side, opening the bowling alongside Hurricanes bowler David Moody.
Steyn's KFC BBL debut as the Melbourne Stars' prized recruit had been highly anticipated but the 36-year-old arrived in the city this week with a side strain picked up playing for the Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi T20 Super League.
When it became clear Steyn wouldn't come up in time for the Stars' trip to the Gold Coast for their opening match against the Brisbane Heat following a long flight from South Africa, the Stars were forced to scramble.
Our speedster @HarisRauf14 gave a glimpse of his extraordinary talent last year when he took 4 wickets against Karachi Kings & bagged the Man of the Match award! 🥁 #DamaDamMast #MainaHoonQalandar #HBLPSL pic.twitter.com/Q7uwIaqMMB— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) December 11, 2019
Enter Haris, the unheralded 24-year-old who's played just 10 career T20 games, stealing a moment in the spotlight in February when he nabbed 4-23 for the Lahore Qalanders in the Pakistan Super League while sending down 150km/h thunderbolts.
Self-taught playing gully cricket on the streets of Rawalpindi while sneaking out from his strict parents, he was eventually persuaded to turn up at an open talent hunt trial for the Lahore Qalanders after showing promise at university.
The right-armer isn't particularly tall and doesn't jump high in his delivery stride but windmills his left arm in front of his body before delivering the ball, and was able to generate speeds of up to 150km/h in the nets. Former Pakistan seamer Aaqib Javad saw enough to take him under his wing.
Aaqib arranged for him to spend time at Michael Clarke's Western Suburbs Cricket Club in Sydney, where he played second grade in 2017-18, before returning to the Qalanders who played him in a T20 tournament in the UAE.
He returned to Western Suburbs last summer, this time graduating to first grade, before being given his shot in the Qalanders' PSL side.
It's a rags to riches tale in the making, with Haris one of two in the Qalanders' player development program turning out for Glenorchy this summer.
He will now face the high-powered Heat batting line-up featuring Chris Lynn, Max Bryant and Tom Banton on Queensland's glitter strip.
It was short but sweet from Tom Banton in his @HeatBBL debut as he teased the @bbl with a glimpse of what he can do #BBL09 pic.twitter.com/ZHBBvTc8af— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 17, 2019
While they have high hopes for Haris in his Big Bash debut, the Stars are hopeful his services will not be needed for long with Steyn eying a return to the side for Sunday's match in the Victorian regional centre of Moe.
"Our priority is Dale's fitness and continuing his treatment. He is very keen to play but we'll let him rest after a long flight to Australia and put him in the best position to be ready for our match in Moe on Sunday," Melbourne Stars physiotherapist Tommy Simsek said.
The Brisbane Heat, meanwhile, will take an unchanged 13-man squad into their second fixture after their opening night defeat by the Sydney Thunder at the Gabba.
This is the second year of the Heat's deal to take home games to the Gold Coast, but the venue has not proved a happy hunting ground in the past.
Brisbane lost both of their games narrowly at Metricon Stadium last season, to the Sydney Sixers and Hobart Hurricanes, while the Stars triumphed over the Thunder at the same venue.
The Stars will also host a 'home' game on the Gold Coast on December 27 against the Adelaide Strikers, while the Heat will play a second Gold Coast match on New Year's Day against the Perth Scorchers.
Brisbane Heat squad: Chris Lynn (c), Tom Banton, Max Bryant, Ben Cutting, Cameron Gannon, Sam Heazlett, Josh Lalor, Ben Laughlin, James Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Zahir Khan.
Melbourne Stars squad: Glenn Maxwell (c), Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ben Dunk, Pete Handscomb, Clint Hinchliffe, Sandeep Lamichhane, Nick Larkin, Nic Maddinson, Haris Rauf, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa.