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England v Pakistan

The weirdness of Shan Masood’s early career

shan masood
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Now 30, Shan Masood has now developed into one of the most dependable opening batsmen in Test cricket.

After his initial struggles in the Test arena – he averaged less than 25 up until the start of 2019 – he has bounced back emphatically after working on his game with Gary Palmer, the freelance batting coach who has previously coached the likes of Alastair Cook and Dom Sibley. Today at Emirates Old Trafford, Masood scored a quite brilliant 156, joining an elite list of Pakistani batsmen who have hit hundreds in three consecutive Test innings.

By going back to his school days, you can see that Masood has taken a peculiar route to the Pakistan team. Born in Kuwait, Masood’s family fled the country to the US during the Gulf War before returning to Pakistan two years later. Fast forward to Masood’s teenage years, the future Pakistan opener moved to England to complete his A-Levels before going to university in the UK too, studying economics at Durham University.

In Pakistan, Masood made his first-class debut weeks after his 18th birthday, opening the batting for Karachi Whites alongside his current Pakistan teammate Asad Shafiq under the captaincy of former Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Sami. An Under-19 international – Masood was once dismissed by Chris Woakes in a Youth ODI – he won his maiden Pakistan ‘A’ call-up in 2010 before he’d even scored a first-class hundred.

Masood didn’t pull up any trees on his first outings for Pakistan ‘A’, failing to pass 50 in two first-class games against a West Indies ‘A’ side featuring Shannon Gabriel, Denesh Ramdin and Kraigg Brathwaite.

Masood’s first taste of first-class cricket in England came playing for Durham MCCU against Durham the following year, and he came up against a side that included three future World Cup winners: Ben Stokes, Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood.

Batting in the middle order alongside future England No. 3 Tom Westley, Masood recorded an unbeaten second-innings half-century while Stokes finished with figures of 4-33 as he ripped through the Durham MCCU line-up. In four further first-class innings for Durham MCCU, Masood failed to pass 31 but he did take four wickets with the ball.

This is where the weirdness ends. After his time at Durham, Masood returned to Pakistan where consistent domestic run-scoring earned him a first Pakistan call-up in 2013. Six years of hopping in and out of the Pakistan Test XI followed – he played between one and three Tests for Pakistan in every year between 2013 and 2018 – before he finally nailed down a spot in the side in 2019. Since the start of 2019, Masood has averaged over 50 in Test cricket.

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