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Ali Naseer: UAE’s Ben Stokes who gave up his Wimbledon dream for cricket

Last updated on 12 Jun 2023 | 06:35 AM
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Ali Naseer: UAE’s Ben Stokes who gave up his Wimbledon dream for cricket

In a chat with, the 19-year-old all-rounder from UAE speaks about his journey, his idol, his stint at the ILT20 and more

Not too long ago, 19-year-old Ali Naseer was picked by the Desert Vipers to play in the inaugural International T20 (ILT20). A few months later, Naseer, who has represented the UAE in two Under-19 World Cups, made his bow for the senior side in the One-Day International (ODI) series against West Indies. And it was a debut that caught the eye. 

He smashed two fifties in his first two games and managed a couple of wickets in the 15 overs he sent down. While his bowling may not be at its potent best, yet, Naseer considers himself a bowling all-rounder and not the other way around. 

“I think I'm more of a fast bowling all-rounder. Most of the coaches after seeing me bat, think I'm a genuine all-rounder. Hopefully, it's the latter. In my mind, my bowling skills slightly outweigh my batting skills. Let's see. Time will tell,” Naseer, who is pursuing sports business management at Leeds Beckett University, said in a chat with

For him to become a better all-rounder, Naseer believes that he not only needs to get used to facing high-pace deliveries, but also needs to bowl at 135-140 KPH on a regular basis. 

Also read - Aayan Khan: Yet another teenage prodigy from UAE who is set to make it big

“I need to get accustomed to playing against high pace - bowlers bowling at 140-145 KPH - try and get used to that and play aggressively. In terms of my bowling, I want to bowl 135 KPH consistently and then get to 140,” the Karachi-born all-rounder said.

“I think right now my average pace is about 130-133 or something. So, if I can average in the 135s and then touch 140, that'll be good because I can challenge the best batsmen in the world with that pace.”

While Naseer has been blessed to have some terrific coaches in his career – like Daren Sammy, Abdul Razzaq, and Mudassar Nazar - to name a few, he reveals that the chats he had with some top international cricketers in the ILT20 has really helped.

“Every practice sessions, people like Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Sam Billings, they try and help out the youngsters as much as possible. I've been asking them how they approach the game. What they do when they play specific bowlers,” Naseer said.

“For example, I asked Billings how he plays bowlers bowling at 140 KPH. Here in the UAE we don't play bowlers who bowl that quick. So, it's really good to ask these players how they play high-class bowling. I've been talking to all these players, asking them about their game. I've been using the information they give me to try and improve my own game.”

However, cricket wasn’t Naseer’s first love, with him pursuing his first passion of playing tennis professionally. He even dreamt of playing in the Wimbledon one day.

“When I was 10 or 11, I was into tennis more than cricket. I used to go for regular tennis training and was hoping to play in the Wimbledon one day. Then at the age of 12, one of my friends introduced me to the game of cricket. I saw him playing it at school and I joined him one day, just to try it out. I'm Pakistani, so I said why not play in our country's [popular] sport,” Naseer explained. 

“So, I played with him, enjoyed it and went back to my mom and I was like can I join an academy called the ICC Academy in Dubai? I joined that academy at 12 years old, played in the youth set-up over there. 

“My first coach was Mudassar Nazar, who came back to coach the UAE team for the recent [U-19] World Cup. He was my first coach there. So, I played the Under-14, the academy, performed well there. Then I was picked for the UAE under-16 team. We went to Oman for the Western Region Cup. We played against teams like Oman, Bahrain, all the GCC countries.” 

He scored 197 in one of the matches in the tournament and that got his name out there. As a result, he was picked in the Under-19 World Cup in 2020, and yet again in 2022. Moreover, it was icing on the cake when he received his maiden international cap from Nazar, now the senior side's head coach, following Robin Singh’s exit.

With the potential to smash it around in the middle-order and the ability to bowl some quick overs, it comes as no surprise that Naseer, a left-handed batter and right-arm fast bowler, idolises Ben Stokes.

“For the last 4-5 years, I’ve looked up to say someone like Ben Stokes. His first knock that I actually saw was his 250 against South Africa in a Test match. Then I saw in the second innings he was bowling as well,” Naseer said.

“I was like, this guy bowls at 140, and he's also scored 250. I was so impressed. Ever since then, I have been following him, trying to style my batting as he does. I try to play aggressively because he's an aggressive batsman and a bowler. 

“He bowls the odd bumper, gets into the batsman's face. So, I try to be as aggressive as he is. For the past 4-5 years, I've been following Ben Stokes. He's my idol right now.”

With the World Cup Qualifiers just around the corner, Naseer is certainly making the right noise. With plenty of young guns like Aayan Khan, Aryan Lakra and more recently Ethan D’Souza and Lovepreet Singh rising up the ranks slowly, UAE’s future seems bright.

(Cover image courtesy: UAE Cricket Official on Twitter)

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