Mujeeb Ur Rahman might be the youngest signee in the eight-year history of Big Bash League but Brisbane Heat coach Daniel Vettori believes the 17-year-old Afghanistan prodigy is way ahead of his age and is someone who understands the game. Mujeeb is set to make his BBL debut and will represent Brisbane in the forthcoming edition of the T20 league.”The thing for him is since he’s arrived on the international scene he’s performed wherever he’s gone – and he’s gone everywhere,” Vettori told cricket.com.au. “He’s played in most competitions around the world and he’s been highly successful.”
Mujeeb has already played 46 T20s, picking up 49 wickets at an economy rate of 6.91. He has also featured in domestic T20 competitions in Bangladesh, Pakistan and most notably India, where he picked up 14 wickets in 11 matches for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2018.
“He’s got so much experience in such a short period of time that I think he really understands his game,” Vettori continued.
“I think that’s true of all the Afghan players – they all feel like their self-coached, so therefore they really know what they’re doing in any situation. From what I’ve seen, he doesn’t get flustered, the pressure’s not an issue for him, and he just gets on with things, and particularly bowling at the Gabba, that’s the mentality that you need.
“He’s very tall, he bowls quick, and he bowls from a height that makes it difficult. His variations, while you won’t see them as much on a wicket like the Gabba, his control of those variations set him apart.”
Vettori also has high expectations from another new recruit James Pattinson who has really matured as an all-rounder in the last couple of years.
“He hasn’t played a heap of T20 cricket, but if you look at the last few years of his overall cricket, he’s really started to mature as an allrounder, and I think that’s where we’ll get the most benefit of him – as a strike bowler and looking to bat in that seven or eight role, which is a crucial role in the T20 game,” Vettori said.
“There’s hope that his bowling and his body stays (right), because it’s a pretty special package, but when you add the batting to it as well, he could become one of those world-class allrounders.”
Pattinson knows he will need much more than sheer speed, which is his forte, to be successful at Gabba.
“In the shorter formats of the game, my strength is probably my pace so I’ll be obviously trying to look to bowl with pace … with your change-ups,” he said. “I think the way the batters play now, they’re exceptional and they’ve got all the shots, so a lot of time fast bowling doesn’t really worry the batters too much.
“So you have to be able to be adaptable and at times look to bowl with pace and aggression on a good length but change it up as well – not being predictable is a big thing in Twenty20 cricket. Trying to think one step ahead of the batters is the way to go.”
Pattinson will share the dressing room with Brendon McCullum, with whom he shares quite a bit of history.
“I was lucky enough – or not lucky enough – to bowl to him in my first over in Test cricket,” Pattinson recalled. “He took me for (12) at the Gabba. I thought it was going to be hard work from there.
“I managed to play him in his last Test match as well, where I think he got 160 or something and smacked them all around Hagley Park in Christchurch. He’s a fantastic player to play against, and now with, and hopefully he can continue the form he’s had for a number of years. He’s a pretty exciting player to play with, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Brisbane will be under the new leadership of Chris Lynn, while Melbourne Stars and Hobart Hurricanes have appointed Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade respectively as their captains for this edition.
First Published: December 12, 2018, 11:03 PM IST