ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup saved my career: Gul

Umar Gul

Pakistan pacer Umar Gul has said that the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup had rescued his career at a time when he was at the verge of walking away from cricket.

Umar, who is currently one of Pakistan's key bowlers with 158 wickets apiece from 45 Tests and 111 ODIs, played in the U-19 world cup in 2002 in New Zealand and finished with 11 wickets at 12.72 runs per wicket, even as it turned out to be an unsuccessful campaign for the green shirts who failed to progress to the knock-out stage of the Super League.

"I was on the verge of walking away from cricket after a poor 2000-2001 domestic U19 tournament following which I was not selected in the Pakistan Academies team. But then I gave myself a last chance, worked hard by attending the Academy side's training sessions as a net bowler until I was picked in the fast bowlers' camp that was supervised by Daryl Foster.

"Lady Luck finally smiled on me when I was selected in the Pakistan squad for the ICC U19 CWC 2002 and though the event turned out to be a poor one for the side, personally I benefitted as I regained my form, picked up some key wickets and when changes were made in the Pakistan side following a disastrous ICC Cricket World Cup 2003, I was able to find my way in the side," Gul recalled.

"I owe it big time to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2002. If that opportunity had not been provided to me at that time, I would have left cricket and reverted my attention and focus to academics," he added.

Citing the example of Azhar Ali who played in New Zealand 10 years ago as a bowler and is now the mainstay of Pakistan's middle-order, Umar said, "Azhar was a very keen batsman even then but ICC U19 CWC actually provided him that platform and opportunity where he evaluated and reworked on his strengths and is now one of the stars of international cricket.

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