“I started playing cricket because I idolised Shane Warne. He has been my role model and I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can make the World Cup squad,” Shah told Reuters.
Warne, who finished with 708 test and 293 ODI wickets, is rated as the greatest leg spinner in cricket history.
“Warne transformed cricket with his approach and aggression as a spinner. I want to emulate him and it would be a dream come true if I can leave an impact in Australia,” Shah, 28, said.
Shah is in Pakistan’s 30-man preliminary World Cup squad and, with experienced off-spinners Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez suspended from bowling in international cricket, is in line to spearhead Pakistan’s spin attack at the tournament.
Chief selector Moin Khan has already reassured Shah about his prospects of making the squad, saying: “Certainly after his superb performances in the tests against Australia and New Zealand he is in our World Cup plan.”
Shah, who hails from the small town of Swabi in Khyber Pakthunkhawa province, has been busy studying footage of Warne as he prepares himself for a bigger role in one-day cricket.
“I have watched his videos and especially how he used to bowl on Australian pitches. I am working very hard on disguising my Googly and making it more effective,” Shah said.
He is confident of playing well in Australia, where he says the extra bounce in the pitches will help him a lot.
“The first thing I want to do on reaching Australia is to go and spend time in the nets with Warne. I have read that he wants to see me bowl and give me tips. It would be great,” Shah said.
Shah is the latest quality leg spinner produced by Pakistan following in the footsteps of Intikhab Alam, Mushtaq Muhammad, Abdul Qadir, Mushtaq Ahmed and Danish Kaneria, who had to quit the game after getting a life ban for spot fixing in 2012.
“I have a good leg spinner and I modeled my flipper on Warne’s style. But I know I need to make my Googly a wicket-taking delivery to be successful in the World Cup,” Shah said.
He played one ODI and two T20 matches against Zimbabwe in September 2011 without shining but he made a big impact when he returned to the national squad for tests against Australia and New Zealand recently in the UAE, taking 27 wickets.
Although the selectors called him up for the final three ODIs against New Zealand, Shah did not get a chance to play.
He said that bowlers need to adapt to the three different formats of the sport but that he would love to follow the philosophy of Warne to dominate the batsmen.
“If my captain and coaches want I am ready to play the role of attacking spinner in the World Cup. I want to take wickets for my team not just contain,” added Shah. (Reuters)