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Benj Moorehead: Owais Shah Dropped By England

October 8th, 2009 by Benj Moorehead in England, International, One-day cricket, South Africa


Owais Shah has been left out of England’s ODI squad for South Africa. It is the conclusion of a terribly sad story.

Was there ever a man who looked so alone in the England team? Pictures of him sitting on the England balcony were a study in solitude. For a man like Shah, injuring Joe Denly in a football warm-up must have fell like spilling some red wine on the new carpet of someone you don’t really know.

On the field too, Shah seemed oblivious to everything but the ball that was coming to him. Even his fellow batsman was a distant stranger at the other end. One could almost see the luminous bubble around Shah, a taut protection ready to burst at the slightest prick.

Yet his weakness was also his greatest strength. For Shah was always at his best when he had climbed into his bubble, impervious to everything except extreme focus and controlled aggression. Once he came to the boil Shah would appear suddenly unstoppable. As a bowler you would hardly know where to bowl to him.

This was the Shah we saw against South Africa in the Champions Trophy. It reminded me of his innings for Middlesex in the Twenty20 final last year. All his nerves and adrenaline, so often the cause of a loose shot or (more likely) a desperate run-out, for once allied perfectly with his unquestionable tank of talent. A talent for ball-striking of a ferocity which squashes the confidence of bowlers and sharply changes the course of a match.

That innings against South Africa was the moment Shah stole my emotions. I was admiring and sympathising in equal measure. He thrashed his way to 98 in the way he was always supposed to. And then someone seemed intent on denying him his hundred, the hundred that may have prolonged his England career.

Paul Collingwood, in many ways the very opposite of Shah, suddenly farmed the strike for what seemed like 10 overs. And then came a drinks break! It was unbearable. Inevitably, at the resumption Shah, whose innings was characterised by violent glory, offered a dainty catch at the wicket and was out for 98. I fell to my knees in front of the television – my girlfriend had no idea what was the cause of my emotional breakdown. I couldn’t look at the slow-mo replays of the disappointment on his face.

Two runs more and a player who outstrips most others for talent may have been able to fulfil that talent. So very sadly, it’s not to be.

Benj Moorehead is editorial assistant of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, International, One-day cricket, South Africa | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Benj Moorehead: Owais Shah Dropped By England”

  1.   ambreen wasi says:

    thanks for so much of a concern regarding owais i really felt the same way as you felt trust me thanks once again.

  2.   Ceci Masters says:

    Even more sympathy for him when he was the victim of one of the most witless interviews ever(even by Sky Sports standards) today after the team was announced

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