After 16-year-old Pakistani bowler Naseem Shah made the headlines in the world of cricket with his pace, the youngster has now been surrounded by a bizarre controversy.
Shah, who made his international debut against Australia in the first match of the two-Test series, is facing a lot of backlash for his age. Many are suspecting that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)is hiding his real age.
It all started when an article of Pakistani daily Dawn, which was published in 2016, resurfaced where the West Indies legend Andy Roberts was quoted as calling Naseem Shah a great “16-yar-old talent” back then.
However, Shah’s childhood coach Suleiman Qadir, son of late Pakistan legend Abdul Qadir, has claimed that all the controversies regarding the bowler’s age are baseless and confirmed his age as 16.
“Andy Roberts is not Naseem Shah’s father. I can guarantee you that he is 16 years of age. He came to our academy some 4 years ago and was twelve then,” Qadir was quoted by Asian Age.
“He has undergone Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)-conducted bones tests and a panel of doctors had also confirmed his age. Yes, in the past I do agree that in the absence of birth-certificates the age of certain cricketers were questioned. But in the case of Naseem Shah, he already has a birth certificate and a smart card,” he added.
Earlier, the Chief Executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had also rubbished all the rumours going on around Shah’s age and said that one only needs to look at his face to realise his growth.
“You only need to look at his face. He’s hardly got any growth on his face. In terms of that, people question it no doubt, just because of his age and the fact that he’s a mature lad and the fact that he’s playing international cricket at this age,” Khan was quoted as saying to The Tonk according to the Nine Network Australia.
Taking a dig at the controversy, which he believes is influenced by India, Khan further said, “But the bottom line is he’s 16 years old and he’s playing. We don’t really care what India think.”
Recently, former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif also cast doubt on the young pace sensation’s age when he retweeted an old post from Pakistani journalist Saj Sadiq where the journalist called Shah a 16-year-old in 2018.
But the youngster has also earned praises for his dedication to the game. While on tour of Australia, he lost his mother but did not return and instead chose to remain there and play for his country.