Irfan is a 6'10 fast bowler from Multan who was playing club cricket under the watchful eye of former Pakistan pace bowler Nadeem Iqbal.
During an interview with PakPassion.net in 2009, Iqbal mentioned Irfan's name as a bowler of gigantic stature and immense potential in need of support and a recommendation to the National Cricket Academy.
PakPassion.net brought Irfan's name to the attention of the NCA's coach Aaqib Javed who eventually invited Irfan for trials. Aaqib liked what he saw and suggested that Irfan pack his bags and move in at the NCA. Irfan quit his day job in a factory, bid his family farewell and boarded a bus to Lahore where eager support staff at the NCA got to work on nurturing his raw talent and ability.
The financial burden of quitting his job over cricket was difficult. Irfan managed to support himself partly thanks to a group of Pakistan cricket fans and volunteers at PakPassion.net, who sponsored him financially during this period, helping him purchase his first pair of bowling shoes and contributing towards his general upkeep and travel costs until he was able to secure a paid contract with a first class club.
Now under the watchful eye of coaches Aaqib Javed, Aamir Sohail and NCA's fitness trainer Saboor Ahmed, Irfan worked on his bowling and stamina, and it was not long before he was ready for first class cricket.
Whilst no first class team took a gamble on a raw and untried youngster, PakPassion.net stepped in once again and brought Irfan to the attention of KRL skipper Mohammad Wasim whilst Wasim was in Manchester. At PakPassion.net's strong recommendation, former Pakistan Test player Wasim agreed to meet with Irfan on his return to Pakistan.
Wasim invited Irfan for a trial with KRL and once again Irfan impressed and was duly awarded a contract to play first-class cricket by Rawalpindi based KRL who boast the likes of Yasir Arafat, Shoaib Akhtar and Azhar Ali in their ranks.
Irfan's inaugural season in Pakistan domestic cricket was a very successful one where he caught the eye of cricket fans and selectors with his nagging line, unerring lengths and unplayable bounce. According to most keen observers it was only a matter of time before he was presented with the green cap of Pakistan.
Irfan has been a steady performer for the Pakistan "A" team currently taking part in the tri-series in Sri Lanka and his inclusion in the Pakistan squad is just rewards for this hard working gentle giant.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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