Khurram Ahmed - Legspinner - Old Wulfrunians Tettenhall Cricket Club

"It was the summer of 1993, June 4th to be very accurate. Something very special was about to transpire. The spectators (including my father, my older brother and I) who were present on Day two of the first Ashes Test between the two traditional rivals at the Old Trafford ground in Manchester, would never have imagined that they would witness one of the most iconic moments in the history of cricket. A young, blonde-haired leg-spinner came into bowl. He slowly approached the crease and bowled a viciously spinning delivery that pitched outside Mike Gatting’s leg stump and turned past Gatting’s defence to hit the top of the off-stump. The delivery is infamously known as the “Ball of the Century".

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I was hooked onto the art of leg-spin. I started imitating the great Shane Warne. Whether it was in my parent’s garden, backyard or the park, I kept practising bowling like Warne. This started my journey with this beautiful game.

During the nineties, I played in several popular cricket academies, including Worcester, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire academies. I have been part of six United Kingdom League titles that include both Birmingham and Staffordshire titles. I won my first Birmingham league at the age of 15 and the season preceding this in 1996, I took 76 wickets in a season.

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But before the age of 18, I suffered from injuries and had to have four major hand and back surgeries. I had decided to walk away from cricket.

I did not play a competitive match until the age of 29. My cousin’s sudden death gave me the strength to continue his legacy. He always believed that I was a talent that was lost due to circumstances. By now, cricket had changed. The bats were larger and there were a lot of players with average abilities that were getting paid large sums of money to play.

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Now here I am looking forward to my next challenge. It is 2019 and my love for the game has not diminished. I have played for many clubs from Penn CC to Wolverhampton, from Fordhuses and now to Old Wulfrunians Tettenhall Cricket Club. This year we played in the T20 semi-final against Lichfield, who are a quality side. After posting a modest total of 99 on a difficult wicket, we managed to win by 10 runs. This was the proudest moment of 2019. And at the ripe old age of 36, I am still trying to bowl like my idol, Shane Warne."

(Khurram Ahmed, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom)

Shakti Gounden