Newyorkcricket.com had the privilege of speaking with USA cricketer Adil Shahzad Bhatti, and he opened up about his personal accomplishments, his success at the recently held ICC WCL Div. 4. Here is the full interview with the 30 year-old USA all-rounder.
What does cricket mean to you?
Alhumdulillah (All praise to God). It has been part of my motivation to change my lifestyle. I met so many good people through cricket who made a huge impact in my life. I have learned so much from them and it has taught me to give back by helping others.
How did it feel to win the first American College Cricket Championship in 2009?
This is by far the most memorable trip I have been on, and I made some lifetime friends after 2009. American College Cricket was a necessity at that time for players like me and others, as it gave me a platform to express my talent. We can look back and say that we were undefeated champions and pioneers of American College Cricket. It is a very proud moment for all of us and Montgomery College. By performing and winning the ‘09 championship, it gave me hope and confidence that soon I could represent the USA on the national team.
Tell us about your training routine?
I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Stretching is part of my before and after workouts. Monday is upper body workout with light weights. Tuesday is lower body with heavy weights. Wednesday back to upper body and Thursday is my rest day. Friday will be lower body again. My goal is to stay lean and fit as an all-rounder. In summer, I go to a field near my house for catching, target hitting, running between the wickets, throwing from the boundary for accuracy, etc. In winter I go to an indoor facility to use a bowling machine to work on my batting. As a cricketer, I feel you should practice everything you come across on the field to prepare yourself better.
What was it like to be around the Rajasthan Royals during the IPL?
I received the invitation to go to a camp with the Rajasthan Royals for a week, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a visa in time. I was really looking forward to this experience, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
How do you explain your success at the recently held ICC WCL Div. 4 tournament?
In the last couple of years, I have been playing lots of cricket. Last year, I played 13-14 outside tournaments and in three different leagues. This year was even better because I was able to top my score from last year. I was really focused this time although I lacked turf experience, but staying fit and carrying a good form made the difference. My club president Manish Lodaya has been supporting and allowing me to travel freely to play tournaments even though I had games in the league for his club. My motto in life has been honesty, hard work, and patience. I try my very best to live by it.
Give us your view on the state of USA cricket, and how to improve the game?
I think we are so far behind even compared to the cricket of Associate level countries. The US system is very unprofessional. For three straight years, I did not get pass my league trials, having performed. Finally in 2010, I made my regional team, played in nationals and then made my debut for USA. I know just in my league there are so many good players who never get a fair opportunity. In Malaysia, we were given two shirts and one pants to play five games in seven days. USACA has to take care of their players better than that. I truly believe we have talented players in the USA, but there needs to be a fair selection process. The national body needs to train and pay us better, along with more turf wickets, etc.
How long have you been playing cricket?
I played my first hardball game for Star Cricket Club in the Washington Cricket League in 2006. I have had no previous training or coaching.
Which cricketers are your role models, if any?
Growing up I liked Saeed Anwar, but I am a big fan of Hashim Amla. I hope to meet him someday.
What’s your next ambition?
I want to excel as a cricketer and play at the highest level I can (CPL or BPL). I love to work with youth players so I will be more involved in coaching in the coming years.
As a cricketer, is there one role you prefer over another, if so, why?
Actually I don’t. As an all-rounder I prefer both. I feel very blessed that I can help my team with batting and bowling.
What have been the highs and lows of your career so far?
I have been able to accomplish a lot for someone who started hardball in 2006. I am very happy and proud to be representing the USA National Team. In the last three years, I played all the competitive T20s with and against so many international players. I like traveling for cricket and I have been enjoying it. Being in the First Class of Inductees in the Hall of Fame of American College Cricket was a proud moment for me. On the other hand, I only wish that cricket was handled professionally in USA.
You’ve batted down the order and opened for USA, which position do you think suits your game best?
I personally think I have the ability to bat anywhere in the top four for USA.
Which is your best cricket moment so far?
I have a few: In 2009, as a captain leading my team to the championship of the first ever American College Cricket tournament, and in 2010, I received a Proclamation from the Montgomery County Council. In the same year, my Montgomery College cricket team and I made the front page of the Washington Newspaper.
I was sponsored by Smart Choice and a few people to go to Pakistan earlier this year where I trained with Kamran Akmal in the Lahore National Cricket Academy (NCA). I got to meet Misbah ul Haq, Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, and literally saw the whole Pakistan team hanging out there.
Couple of years ago, I remember I used to see Andy Mohammad with his sponsorship cricket gear, and it created a feeling and desire that I wanted to have a sponsorship contract one day. So finally in 2013, I signed a contract with Hammer Cricket. I feel like having the best quality cricket gear made my job so much easier on the field.
In 2014, I scored two T20 centuries and two 40 overs centuries. Last, but not least, scoring 52 not out with 3 wickets for USA was my proudest moment.