One of Afghanistan’s bowling support cast, Aftab Alam’s career for the Blue Tigers has been a stop-start affair thus far. Making his debut as a teenager against Canada way back in 2010, Alam has only appeared in 20 of Afghanistan’s 107 ODIs since that match. Alam has played as second (or third) fiddle to a rotating roster of bigger stars such as Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran and more recently the spin bowling sensations of Rashid and Mujeeb.
A big-hearted performer with boundless energy, he approaches the crease with a chesty front-on action and bends his back on even the most lifeless of surfaces and hits the bat hard with a heavy ball. With one-day pitches in England unlikely to offer much assistance to the bowlers, Alam’s persistence and commitment may come to the fore - as he showed by taking 4/25 on a flat pitch in Dehradun to wreck Ireland’s chase of a middling total.
Alam is a product of the Afghanistan youth system, coming up through age group cricket and representing his nation at U-15s and U-19s level before graduating to the senior team. Born into a cricketing family, and with several relatives either keen players or involved in Afghanistan’s administrative setup, Alam has been immersed in the sport for most of his life and it was only a matter of time until he broke into the national side.
With the ever-reliable Dawlat Zadran and talismanic Hamid Hassan both selected, and captain Gulbadin Naib able to chip in with some handy seamers, Alam’s primary role in the squad would appear to be as injury cover. However, given the notorious fragility of Afghanistan’s frontline pace attack (with Hassan and Dawlat both suffering from knee injuries at various points in their careers), Alam may yet play a major role in the tournament.
Dogged and dependable even when conditions are against him, Alam’s bustling medium pace may yet prove an asset in England.