Shahbaz Choudhry - Founder of Pace Journal - the best fast-bowling platform in the world

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My cricketing journey

All I’ve ever really known in life is cricket. From my last two years in high school to young adulthood – my dream was to be a professional cricketer.

I started playing cricket at the age of 13. I was always a fast bowler and I was inspired by the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, who were the fastest of them all. I climbed through the ranks very quickly as I was always faster than my peers for my age. I went from playing local club cricket to age group county cricket for Middlesex in a matter of months. When I was 18, I was signed by Northamptonshire on their academy staff and was scheduled to make my first-team debut that same year. I consider myself to be over-ambitious and I was so obsessed with becoming the ‘perfect’ fast bowler that I held myself back from some incredible opportunities that were ahead of me.

In my pursuit for perfection, I lost my bowling style and went through a very rough patch where I couldn’t bowl properly at all. For about 2 years, I desperately tried to rediscover my bowling style and played every experiment humanly possible, but nothing seemed to work. At this point, the toll that cricket had taken on me mentally was too much to bear and I had to take a step back from the game and explore different opportunities.

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My background and life away from cricket

Things didn’t pan out the way I expected, and I was really lost for a few months. Luckily, I have a very supportive and inspirational family. My brother, Hussan, is an entrepreneur and I remember just shadowing him and his business partner Fadil for almost a year just learning everything about business through them. In that time, I was also self-studying branding, marketing and advertising. Looking back, I truly believe that entrepreneurship and marketing is my second love. Both my brother and Fadil knew how much time and effort I put into cricket and I remember Fadil telling me, “you’ve given too much to this game, you have to get something out of it”. At the time, I had developed so much regret and hurt for the game that I couldn’t even imagine anything to do with cricket. I started a few projects of my own and I was doing just okay. It sounds crazy but in a roundabout way, I started life as an aspiring cricketer. I then became an entrepreneur and marketing guru until finally, I blended it all (cricket + business) to create Pace Journal, the biggest and fastest growing fast bowling platform in the world!

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When did the idea of Pace Journal start?

In 2018, I was making a comeback to cricket after a 5-year layoff. During my training, I encountered a lot of hurdles and there were things that I was simply clueless about. I reached out to some pro’s for advice and they were a great help. Social media is a powerful tool. It can connect complete strangers who are thousands of miles away from each other. In that time, I was receiving a lot of messages from fast bowlers all over the world who were asking me all sorts of questions. That’s when I thought, the same questions I was asking, all of these bowlers are asking me. So, I decided to create a platform where we could ‘all’ find answers to our questions from credible sources. Instead of me answering everyone individually, (which is logistically impossible) - I figured I could impact hundreds of thousands with a single post. I blended cricket, marketing and business together to create Pace Journal, the biggest and fastest-growing fast bowling platform in the world!

What is the purpose of Pace Journal?

Pace Journal was founded to help cricketers of all ages and abilities learn from the experiences of past and present professional cricketers and coaches. I believe that science and theories have their place, but you can’t put a price on ‘experience’. Science, new research, techniques and methods are forever evolving but experience is timeless. Being able to listen and learn from people who have “been there and done it” is a privilege which I wanted to bring to the world through Pace Journal.

One of our slogans is, “Pace Journal is like having the finest professional fast bowlers and coaches in your phonebook”.

What was one experience that thought you the most?
Through this journey, I have learnt that in cricket, one should not chase perfection as perfection is a myth. Accept that you must ‘learn-as-you-go’. My obsession with perfection held me back and prevented me from taking opportunities which were critical to my career. I used to say to myself, “when I’ve got this part of my action right, I’ll take this opportunity then”. In reality, I was just holding myself back.

Accept that you don’t have to have the perfect, bio-mechanical action in order to play international cricket. Accept that you don’t need to be the fittest human on the planet in order to be a fast bowler. Accept that you are unique and embrace it!

In business and life – always follow your passion. Success is not a currency and I’ve always considered money to be a ‘consequence’ of great work, not the motivator for great work. Money and materiality might please you momentarily, but it won’t drive you enough to create meaningful work and actually make a positive impact on the world. Genuine passion can push you, your creativity and your imagination to a point that you never believed was possible.

 Pace Journal began as nothing but a passion project. My mission was to help the world. I see myself in every cricketer that messages us and I know exactly how they feel and what they are going through. Regardless of what the future holds for Pace Journal, we will never stray from our mission to help.

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Shakti Gounden