Player Spotlight: Mo Awais
July has turned out to be a hugely significant month for Clydesdale Cricket Club. Having chased early pace-setters Ferguslie for much of the campaign the reigning WDCU champions first regained then consolidated their position at the top of the Western Premier Division thanks to a hard-fought home victory over their nearest rivals. Add to that a Scottish Cup final appearance to look forward to next month – also secured at the expense of the unfortunate Paisley side – and Clydesdale’s season appears to be peaking at just the right time.
A key ingredient in their success has been the outstanding form of opening batsman Mo Awais. Having kicked off his season with a stunning 123 from 112 balls against East Kilbride, an innings described as ‘international class’ by Clydesdale skipper Majid Haq, a man who knows much about such things, the twenty-four year old has continued to harvest a rich crop of runs for his club as well as make a strong debut for the Western Warriors in the Cricket Scotland Pro50 Series. Recognition on an even bigger stage is surely on the cards.
As modest and unassuming off the field as he is compelling with bat in hand on it, Awais is clearly enjoying life.
“I love to play cricket even though there is no history of playing cricket in my family at all,” he said. “My parents were very strict. They always pushed me to study, study, study so it was very hard for me to play when I was a child. I used to sneak out, though, to practise without my parents knowing!
“And now I am in my fourth year at Clydesdale and it has been my best so far,” he continued. “I want to help us win the league and the Scottish Cup by scoring big hundreds. I want to do this as a gift to my captain.”
Such sentiments are to become a recurring theme in our conversation. As team-mate, mentor and friend, Majid has clearly exerted an enormously positive influence on his young protégé.
“Majid is a very good natured human being. He has helped me a lot, in my temperament, in my skills, everything,” said Awais. “He backs me up, he supports me in every way. My batting has improved a lot due to my captain.”
And time will tell if the guidance of Scotland’s all-time leading wicket-taker can extend into other areas as well.
“I am trying to copy Majid’s bowling action now,” laughs Awais. “I am trying to be an off-spinner too!”
But it is with the bat that his reputation continues to grow. Against Ferguslie Awais’ fluent 79 proved to be the difference between the two sides as Clydesdale secured a tense two wicket win. Always looking to be positive, it was Awais’ quick, aggressive run-scoring at the top of the innings that put his side on the road to victory – while bringing to mind the style and intent of purpose demonstrated by another strong influence on his game, too.
“Batting-wise I follow AB de Villiers,” said Awais. “He has been my favourite since I was a child. I try to follow his shots and his body language when he plays.”
Standing at five foot six inches, the sort of height that did Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Donald Bradman little harm, Awais is secure in defence, moving back, across and solidly down onto the ball, and drives with quick hands and easy fluency. Against Ferguslie a healthy proportion of his runs came in the ‘V’ between long-off and long-on, with powerful ground strokes being mixed with lofted shots placed into the gaps between and over the fielders. Square and behind the wicket his wrists came more into play, steering the ball into space for quick singles as his score quickly accumulated. It was a typically assured and confident performance that had his captain smiling in approval.
“Awais is one of the most talented players I’ve ever come across, including internationals,” said Majid. “Some of the shots he plays are genuinely top class, he hits the ball so well. He’s got a great attitude too, he is very enthusiastic and a real team man.
“Awais gets to twenty or thirty so easily, he just needs to go on consistently because that’s what the really top players do. Once they get in they really make it count, they go big and get hundreds.
“Fair enough, if you’re on the receiving end of a good ball and get out for zero that’s one of those things, but if you have done the hard work to get to twenty or thirty you must carry on.
“If Awais can keep doing that, keep looking to build his innings in tens, thinking ten, twenty, thirty, forty, not looking too far ahead to a hundred, one step at a time…well, the sky is the limit.”
And for this exceptionally promising young player, the ultimate goal is clear.
“In the future all I want to do is play for Scotland,” said Awais. “That is the biggest thing I want to achieve. I will carry on working hard and hopefully I will get there in the next couple of years. It would mean so much.”