Dubai: Aspiring to be the world’s tallest cricketer, Mudassir Gujjar is also open to a historic re-entry in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) that is currently being played in the UAE.
Gujjar, who has been in a bit of a fix in his native Lahore because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is keen to take things in his stride while accomplishing long-term career goals in the future.
“As I have always wanted, I need to achieve my first goal of playing in the Pakistan team for that would make me the tallest cricket player in the world,” Gujjar told Gulf News from Lahore earlier on Wednesday.
“And if I get an offer from the IPL, then I have no issues playing alongside all those big and famous names like Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Jos Buttler or Glenn Maxwell,” he added.
Born on October 12, 1997 and standing at an incredible 7.6 feet, the Pakistan youngster has always cherished a aim to become the tallest player to feature in international cricket. The young spinner was part of the player development programme with the Pakistan Super League (PSL) after being picked up by the Lahore Qalandars.
IPL, as of now, don’t entertain players from across the border since the first edition but even this factor doesn’t concern the 23-year-old.
“The PSL doesn’t take players from India and the IPL doesn’t accept players from Pakistan. But who knows, I may be the first one to play in the Indian league,” Gujjar said.
Due to the pandemic, Gujjar has been forced to keep himself fit playing basketball at the local club. One day, he hopes to overtake Pakistan’s Mohammad Irfan, who is 7.1 feet, had been the tallest bowler in international cricket so far.
An entertainment company based in Karachi has managed to get a couple of modelling assignments for the youngster but Gujjar doesn’t see this as his true calling. “I used to attend regular training at the High Performance Centre of the Qalanders in Lahore where my coach Atif Saab used to oversee my training schedule. But after the pandemic, I have to somehow manage by myself by playing basketball and using my height much to my advantage,” he said.
Launched in 2016, the PSL Lahore Qalandars was the second-most expensive franchise and one of the few teams sold to an international company in Qatar Lubricants Company Limited (QALCO). Though the team is currently captained by Sohail Akhtar and with former Pakistan paceman Aaquib Javed as coach, the Qalanders had been led by the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum and even de Villiers.
Despite all the changes over the past five years, it had not not often translated on the pitch as the Qalanders have finished in the last spot on the points table in each of the first four seasons of PSL. This season, the Qalanders have done well to make it to the play-offs against Peshawar Zalmi when the PSL is scheduled to re-start in mid-November.
Gujjar admitted that although his height was due to a hormonal condition, he was in peak condition for any level of cricket. “My height, in fact, is a blessing as I can run faster and be the fastest bowler too,” he said.
“I was the tallest child in the school and in the neighbourhood. I was already six feet tall when I was 10 and by the time I was in high school, I was well above seven feet. My parents were worried as I kept growing. They were not able to understand why I was growing taller than my siblings and if it will later cause any troubles for me,” Gujjar added.
But for the moment, all that is behind him as Gujjar looks ahead to achieve his dreams. “All I need to do is first get into the Pakistan team. Once that happens, then everyone will notice my potential and things will slowly start falling in place.’’
Date of birth: October 12, 1997
Place of birth: Lahore, Pakistan
Other tall men in cricket: Mohammad Irfan – Pakistan (7.1 ft); Boyd Rankin – Northern Ireland/England (6.7 ft); Billy Stanlake – Australia (6.7 ft); Bruce Reid – Australia (6.66 ft); Joel Garner – West Indies (6.66 ft); Peter George – Australia (6.66 ft); Curtly Ambrose – West Indies (6.6 ft); Jason Holder – West Indies (6.6 ft); Suleiman Benn – West Indies (6.6 ft); Tom Moody – Australia (6.52 ft).