Tabish Khan, the newly crowned king of Karachi Kings, is a prime example of sheer hard work and dedication. Making his First Class debut in 2002/03 and being a top performer, he never caught the eyes of national selectors. The right-arm pacer’s 515 wickets in 113 First Class matches were not enough for the selectors to even consider him for a Green Cap. Being a consistent performer in the domestic circuit, he still being ignored, damaged Khan’s determination at times, but he never bogged down and kept on pushing himself to do even better. “I used to get disheartened, I topped Pakistan as a bowler in domestic cricket for five or six years continuously and still not getting any recognition was quite heartbreaking,” he told. “But getting disheartened is fruitless, you just let down yourself, why one should lose his heart? You are playing the game that you love, so there is nothing to be disappointed.”
None of the national selectors ever contacted him throughout the years. However, he feels that it was up to them whether to give him a chance or not, all he had at his end was to perform day in and day out to prove his worth. The one thing that kept him going was the thought that whenever he takes the field, he takes it with pride. “By the grace of God, I am lucky enough to perform at every level I have played, I have been blessed with respect, it motivates me that whenever I leave the ground, I leave it with my chin up.”
Despite facing loads of hardships during the course of his career, the pacer does not have any regret. He believes struggle and hard work are part of life, someone who has not tasted failures cannot enjoy success.“Some people get success immediately, some have to wait for it, I am probably the latter one, but I am thankful that I have succeeded,” he told.Tabish Khan could have been utilized in the national team as he was ruling the domestic circuit of the country, but the think tank probably did not realize his talent and wasted some of his precious years. “Failure is very important in life, it teaches you the learning process, I have utilized all these years to improve myself and coming up with even more zeal, it is the result of that hard work that I have developed myself and now a part of Karachi Kings.”
Tabish Khan, after playing First Class cricket for around 15 years, is still hopeful to wear Pakistan’s badge on his chest. He believes in the concept of ‘age is just a number’ as long as one concentrates on his fitness. “It is our national team, not a U-19 side where there is an age limit,” he said with a grin.“Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan are prime examples of that who played till their 40’s and were still super fit.As long as you are fit and concentrating on your game, it automatically prolongs the career, age is just a number as long as you are fit.”
Idolizing the duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis while growing up, he started playing cricket in streets. That was the era that inspired hundreds of Pakistani kids to become fast bowlers and Tabish Khan was one of them. “Like every boy in Karachi, I also started playing cricket in the streets, I always wanted to be a fast bowler. It was the era of Waqar and Wasim, there has never been such a combination and there will never any duo like them,” he told. “Then there was Imran Khan and later Shoaib Akhtar, seeing them play I got the passion for becoming a pacer.”
During his childhood, there were many inspiring stories, one of them was Imran Khan lifting the world cup in 1992. The victory in the major event motivated a generation to play cricket and Khan is still under the hangover of that success. “I was very young when Imran Khan lifted the world cup, but I still remember it as it happened just days before.”
Despite resistance from his family, Tabish Khan kept playing cricket throughout his school and college life. His family wanted him to concentrate on studies, they did not believe that he will a successful career as a cricketer, but now they dream of seeing him wearing Pakistan’s Test cap. “My family did not allow me to play cricket in the beginning, they always asked me to focus on studies,” recalled the pacer with a bright smile. “I carried on studies alongside cricket, in fact, I have played without my family knowing about it.”
It was easy for him to manage to play cricket without the consent of his family as it was not that expensive in those days. There were few academies and young cricketers used to practice on their own on cement wickets and anywhere where they could hone their skills. Unlike today, where players have all kinds of facilities in academies, who also charge some hefty amount from them. The streets used to be filled with boys playing cricket on roads and grounds, which is a rare sight in Karachi now. “To be honest, in my age, there was a lot of street cricket in Karachi, but you do not find boys playing in streets that often now. It is probably because of the law and order situation of the city of due to the abundance of cricket academies here.”
Street cricket is a nursery for cricketers in Pakistan, especially in Karachi. Kids learn different tricks of the trade in on roads which they apply in competitive cricket and succeed. According to the fast bowler, one thing that he learned in streets is playing as a unit and supporting each other. “We used to play with passion, there used to be a team effort, it was used to be a different feel altogether. The team that gels together wins, the biggest example of that is Pakistan’s triumph in Champions Trophy, there were not big names in the side, but they played as a unit and emerged as the winners eventually.”
Tabish Khan seems ready and confident to take up arguably the biggest challenge of his career, playing in Pakistan Super League. The seasoned domestic player is not feeling any sort of pressure ahead of the big campaign in Karachi Kings’ colors. He believes that basics of cricket are same and he has to play the same sport that he has been playing for the past two decades almost, “I am not going there to play snooker or soccer, I will play cricket, so there is nothing to get nervous,” he told.
Similar to the first two seasons of PSL, the third edition will also feature some of the biggest names of cricket fraternity. Usually, when a big name comes on to bat, young players, come under the pump just because of the reputation his opponent has, however, Khan does not buy this idea. “Every batsman on which I will not do my homework will bother me,” he said.“If you bowl well against them, there is no batsman in the world whom you cannot beat.”
Karachi Kings players are working extremely hard to outshine all the opponents this time. They are working to improve their fitness and skill level. “We are working hard, we are training throughout the day to meet the high standards of PSL. To compete in PSL, you need to go an extra mile and everyone is doing it.”
He assured Karachi Kings’ fans that they will give their best, but the results cannot be promised as other teams are also working extremely hard. “Similar to us, different teams are also practicing extremely hard,” he stated. “Lahore Qalandars, Quetta Gladiators, Multan Sultans or Islamabad United, everyone is working their heart out to do well in the PSL, moreover, the tournament features every single top-performer of the country, which makes the competition immensely tough.”
“Make sure your focus on education,” tells Tabish Khan who has been through hell and back in his career, but still did not give up.“Don’t treat cricket as just a game,” He advised budding cricketers to work hard as talent will not take you far, “Cricket is a different field altogether, you have to work extremely hard. Just talent will give you success only short term, hard work is essential to grow as a cricketer,” he added.“You have to be focused, you need to be mentally tough for cricket, be ready for every situation, you have to fight to not give up, you fall, you rise, it is an extremely tough field, and you need to be mentally prepared here,” he concluded.