Gary Heatly catches up with all-rounder Safyaan Sharif as the Scotland squad head out to the Desert T20 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
A lot has been happening for Safyaan Sharif in the last few months, but the 25-year-old is feeling very comfortable within himself and is ready to hit the ground running at the Desert T20 event.
Scotland begin their Pool B campaign against Hong Kong in Abu Dhabi Cricket Club’s Zayed Cricket Stadium on Saturday, January 14.
They will then play the Netherlands in the same stadium on Tuesday, January 17 and then Oman in the Dubai Sports City two days later with and further matches determined by final placings in the pool.
This winter Sharif has decided to move from Falkland to Glenrothes to continue his club cricket later in the year, but for now all of his focus is on this exciting international event.
And he believes that seven weeks spent honing his talents with both bat and ball in Pakistan prior to Christmas have left him in a really good place.
The man who has 20 T20 caps already under his belt and played at the World Cup in India last year said: “I think I have grown up a lot as a cricketer in the last 12 months.
“You can never stop learning and I think the T20 World Cup was a great learning curve for me in this form of cricket and when we returned from the event I worked on a lot of things.
“Last summer it has been well-documented that we did not play as much international cricket as we would of liked, but as a group we got our heads down and got on with it.
“When we heard that we would be heading to this Desert T20 event right after new year with some of the other associate nations it really focused the minds and we were excited.
“I was able to get away to Pakistan and play some cricket for Khawaja CC in Faisalabad. That was great for me, continuing to play on grass wickets and learning from new coaches and team mates.
“We played quite a bit of competitive 20-over and 40-over cricket and the standard was good so that tested out my skill set and allowed me to work on some of the things I had been working on in the nets.
“I was also lucky to be able to train with the PIA first class team and that again exposed me to some very capable cricketers.
“The whole trip left me feeling good when I came back to Scotland and I have enjoyed the indoor training with the Scotland guys in recent weeks as we prepared for the Desert T20.”
Right arm seamer Sharif has taken 22 international T20 wickets to date while he can also do a job with the bat in the middle order if required and looks set to be a key man for Grant Bradburn’s side this month.
His best figures of 4-24 came against the UAE in similar conditions 11 months and with Ally Evans missing the trip Sharif will have to take on more responsibility among the pacemen.
“We have a good core of seamers going on this trip including Josh Davey, Chris Sole and Brad Wheal and we all offer something different and complement each other,” he explained.
“The thing you have to learn in T20 cricket is that every ball counts. You may go for a boundary – that is the nature of the shorter game – but you have no time to go into your shell.
“You have to be right back on it the next ball and try to outfox the batsman, it is a constant challenge and one that I really enjoy.”