Exclusive: Rashid Khan talks The Hundred, inspiring young players and more

Rashid Khan is one of the most sought-after T20 players in world cricket – and he will once again be travelling to England this summer to play for Trent Rockets in the second edition of The Hundred.

His numbers, whichever way you look at them, are exceptionally impressive. The 23-year-old has taken 441 wickets in 317 T20 matches to date.

To put that into context, only two players – Dwayne Bravo and Imran Tahir – have more wickets in the entire history of the format. Their T20 careers have both spanned 16 years to date. Rashid made his T20 debut in 2015.

It isn’t just T20 cricket where the leg-spinner shines. He made his international debut for Afghanistan in the ODI format at the age of 17. One of his most remarkable performances was against West Indies in 2017, where he took seven for 18 – including the wicket of Windies captain Jason Holder for a first-ball duck.

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Although he has only been able to rack up five appearances in Tests, Rashid already has 34 wickets to his name in the longest form of the game. He has also captained his country on several occasions.

In addition, his hard-hitting batting style is highly effective. As recently as Sunday, Rashid smashed 40 off 21 balls in the Indian Premier League for Gujarat Titans. He also has recorded five ODI half-centuries.

Rashid Khan on inspiring young players across the world

Rashid Khan
Image Credit: Getty

English cricket fans will see plenty of Rashid Khan this summer. As well as featuring for Trent Rockets, he will also return to Sussex to play in the T20 Blast.

At just 23, the leg-spinner is already inspiring young cricketers worldwide to play the game – and it is something he wants to do more of in the future.

Speaking exclusively to SPORF, the T20 star explained: “It’s always amazing when you go to different places, and you see people, you see their reaction, and they want to be bowling like you.

“How you’re bowling your wrong-un that quick, the leg-spin, how you manage yourself to be more consistent with your line and length. It’s so, so great. I’m always so happy and so grateful.

“Whenever I go to a new place, and I see the youngsters, they keep asking me those questions, and I’m so happy that I keep sharing my experience with them, whatever skills I have. It makes me so, so happy as well.

“We had a very great time last year in The Hundred. When I was in the T20 Blast last year with Sussex, I met Archie Lenham [16-year-old leg-spinner from Sussex]. He was somebody just new into the game. I spent some quality time, only a few days, but those days are very useful for both of us. We keep sharing, and it was a very good week with him.

“That is something, as a player, that always makes you feel good. To keep having that time with the youngsters and keep trying to share whatever experience you have from all around the world. I am blessed to be someone sharing that kind of experience, and I would love to do that more in the future.”

Rashid Khan on dealing with pressure

One of the critical experiences that Rashid Khan can share with young bowlers is performing in pressure situations.

During most T20 games, and in The Hundred, Rashid is generally entrusted to bowl in the middle overs. It is a crucial section of every innings, following the end of the first powerplay, where big runs can be scored.

Rashid Khan
Image Credit: Getty

He explained: “I try my best to keep things simple for myself while bowling in that particular time because the more you keep it simple, the more the result will become better as well. So I just focus on what I can deliver the best. That is what is in my control.

“It’s not in my control to bowl and take three or four wickets in the pressure situation. In my opinion, it’s like bowling in the right area and bowling according to the weakness of the batsman.

“That is something which I should have in the mind. Rather than set the target that I need to take three wickets and give two runs, I think that might put extra pressure on me, and I might make some mistakes in that time. I might go for more runs when my team wants me to bowl more economical.

“So I think at that time, as a player, you should just be calm and cool. Focus on what you can do, and what is in your hands which you can control.”

Rashid Khan on adapting to The Hundred

Even for the most skilled players in world cricket, the addition of a new format, The Hundred, presented several challenges last season.

England’s newest white-ball competition saw a reduction in balls per innings to 100. In addition, captains could choose to utilise their bowlers for five or 10 consecutive balls. That is opposed to the usual six balls.

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Speaking before the tournament began last year, Rashid Khan told ESPNcricinfo that he was “super excited” at the prospect of bowling 10 balls an over. But he also admitted to SPORF that the change in mindset did come with some challenges.

“To be honest, it took the whole season for me to get used to it,” he revealed.

“Sometimes I was getting ready to bowl six [balls], and the umpire was like, ‘No, it’s already done, five balls’. So that was something which was a bit different for us. But we understood.

“As soon as I came back to the T20, I bowled five balls, and the umpire was like, ‘No, you still need to bowl one more’. I played The Hundred, and it was different.

“The thing is that it’s very quick. Things happen very quickly. It doesn’t take a lot of time. At the same time, it’s not that kind of cricket where we say, ‘It’s 100 balls, and you have to hit each and every ball’. At the start, when there was T20, people were like, ‘It’s only 120 balls, and you need to go harder and harder’.

“Now, in T20, it looks like 50 overs because at some stage, when you lose some wickets, 10 overs looks like 20 or 30 overs that you have to do, with the process, and at the time you just need to rotate.”

Rashid Khan previews The Hundred 2022, what he enjoyed the most from season one

Finally, Rashid Khan opened up on what he found most rewarding from The Hundred season one, including playing in front of crowds once again.

After making history as the first men’s draft pick in The Hundred, Rashid went on to take 12 wickets for Trent Rockets – the joint-most of any bowler in the competition.

“The Hundred was pretty much different to every [tournament I’ve played in]. The crowd was amazing,” he began.

“Most important was what happened around the world in the last couple of years. After that, getting the crowd and that support in the stadiums was a different feeling for us players.”

He went on to add: “Also, it was a promotion for women’s cricket as well. They come up and play ahead of the men, in that crowd … and it’s beautiful for the promotion of women’s cricket.

“It gives them that opportunity to play in that crowd and test their skills playing in pressure situations, and they get better and better.

“So many young cricketers, they come up, with such a crowd, the first time they are playing, and it gives them that environment to understand the feeling of pressure. When it comes to the biggest stages, like the World Cup and things like that, you will understand what other things you need to do to control yourself in a big crowd.

“I think [The Hundred] will be massive this year as well, and I’m looking forward to the competition starting soon, and we can see the new things happen.”

Rashid Khan was speaking ahead of The Hundred kicking off in summer, having been retained to play for Trent Rockets in the summer’s ultimate sport and entertainment event. The Hundred throws cricket’s doors open to a new audience of fans, treating you to a combination of live music and world-class men’s and women’s sporting talent.

The Hundred kicks off on 3rd August with Southern Brave vs Welsh Fire. Tickets are priced at £5 for U16 and free for children under 5 years of age. Tickets are available NOW at www.thehundred.com/tickets

Featured Image Credit: Getty