Chloe Saltau August 11, 2012
High hopes: Usman Qadir, the son of Pakistani great Abdul Qadir, practises his leg-spin bowling at training on the Gold Coast. Photo: John French
MOST of what he knows about cricket Usman Qadir absorbed from his famous father. He picked his brain and copied his extravagant action, but also knew what a giant step it would take to actually be like him.
Of the 240 players from 16 countries who will compete in the under-19 World Cup in Queensland, from today, none is more aware than the son of the great Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir of the huge gap between this gathering of the best young cricketers in the world and the real world of international cricket. When your father is a magician, it's impossible to think you have made it.
''He is my hero, too. I am trying to copy him, but I can't do it because he is a legend. But still I try my level best,'' said Qadir, a budding leg-spinner in his father's image who has spent many hours glued to videos of his bowling.
''The other guys, when they are starting cricket, they watch my father, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, all the leg-spinner legends in the world, watching videos, but my idol is my father. He spend a lot of time with me, teaching more deliveries.''
It was, he said, ''a very awesome thing'' to play against Australia in the final of the previous youth World Cup in 2009-10, even if he felt like crying when the Australians lifted the trophy at the end of it.
Of the 11 Australians who played in that final, two (Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Marsh, another with strong cricket bloodlines) have graduated to limited-overs internationals and all but two have reached first-class level. Of those who will defend the title over the next three weeks, two (South Australia's Travis Head and New South Wales batsman Kurtis Patterson) have already made an impression on the Sheffield Shield scene. In a sign of the different paths open to this generation, a handful, including all-rounder Meyrick Buchanan and fast bowler Gurinder Sandhu have Big Bash contracts.
Australia begins its title defence against England in Townsville today while Pakistan, also among the favourites, faces neighbouring Afghanistan (coached by former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson) in Buderim.
Qadir learnt something about cricket, Australian style, from his father's recollections of his fabled season with Carlton Cricket Club, the stuff of legend on the Melbourne district scene. ''He took a lot of wickets and break the record [for Carlton],'' said Qadir, who was at home in Lahore, aged four, when his father bewitched 72 batsmen and won the Ryder Medal for the 1998-99 season. ''He told me when you are playing over there, play positive. Stop the runs, then the batsmen are giving you the wickets.''
He learnt more still from playing a warm-up series on the Gold Coast last week against the Australians, who evidently start their sledging young. ''I have friends in the Australian team,'' he said. ''They are very nice guys. When they are giving abuse, after the game they apologise. I said it's OK, no problem.''
Though he can't yet boast a selection of googlies as lethal as his father's, Qadir says he has a big enough bag of tricks. ''I bowl three deliveries, leg-break, googly, flipper. It depends what the batsman is doing; if they are trying to hit every ball then I try my trump card to get the wicket.''
Like his father, he intends to play club cricket in Australia and is making plans to head to Adelaide after the tournament.
For all the under-19 graduates who have shone at international level, he knows there are years of hard work ahead, and plenty who will slip from the radar altogether. But Qadir hopes he will see his opponents again on the big stage. ''Inshallah, a lot of players in this World Cup from Australia, England, India, Pakistan, after one, one-and-a-half years, they will play in the national teams,'' he said.
UNDER-19 WORLD CUP
Will Bosisto (c), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Meyrick Buchanan, Harry Conway, Sam Hain, Travis Head, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Jimmy Peirson, Gurinder Sandhu, Mark Steketee, Nick Stevens, Ashton Turner and Jack Wildermuth.
Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe.
Future stars: Brian Lara, Mushtaq Ahmed, Michael Atherton
Future stars: Chris Gayle, Virender Sehwag, Graeme Swann
Future stars: Michael Clarke, Graeme Smith, Shane Watson
Future stars: Hashim Amla, George Bailey, Cameron White
Future stars: Alastair Cook, Tim Paine, Suresh Raina
Future stars: David Warner, Shakib al Hasan
Future stars: Virat Kohli, James Pattinson
Future stars: Mitch Marsh, Doug Bracewell