Canadian cricketer Saad Bin Zafar is making waves around the world.
The British Daily Mirror said: “The unknown cricketer entered the history books with an international T20 record.”
“Canada’s Saad Bin Zafar Makes T20 History,” reads the New Zealand Herald headline.
On November 14 in Antigua and Barbuda, the 35-year-old from Brampton, Ont., made cricket history by becoming the first pitcher to score four goals without conceding in one international T20 match as Canada beat Panama at ICC Men’s Americas T20 World Cup Qualifier.
T20 is a shortened form of cricket swashbuckling, with teams each playing for 20 innings (with six balls each). Batsmen are always attacking, looking to score quickly.
For example, Australia averaged 9.18 runs each beating New Zealand to win the recent Men’s T20 ICC World Cup in Dubai. The Australian hit his winning goal of 173 in his 19th game to win with eight goals.
On the same day, 11,725 kilometers away, Zafar vacated Panama in four passes – delivering 24 balls for no charge and losing two shots in the process.
After winning the pitch, Canada opted to hit the stroke and put a total of 245 to one on their allotted 20 rounds at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Osbourn, Antigua, with Rayyan Pathan leading in 107th place. The Canadian then eliminated the Panamanian by just 37 runs in 17.2 laps.
Throwers are limited to four passes in T20 cricket, meaning Zafar had a perfect day – with four girly passes.
“It is better to save than to pick up the ball in T20…Batteries are always looking to score,” explains Zafar. “They don’t lose their time. They just try to toss every ball they can and score the maximum number of runs.”
He didn’t realize he had gone into the record books until his coach told him after the game.
As words were spoken, the left-armed orthodox bowler found himself in need, with media from around the world – including his birthplace of Pakistan – reaching out .
“It’s fun that people in different countries are highlighting it and getting the news out,” Zafar said in an interview.
Zafar, who came to Canada from Pakistan at the age of 17, has a background in business administration/finance and served as a procurement analyst for Aviva Canada, an insurance company.
But he gave up, choosing to work part-time in a car sales job to have more time for his sport and help pay the bills.
And with all due respect to the Daily Mirror, Zafar isn’t innumerable in the cricket world.
He was named man of the match in the final of the inaugural Global T20 Canada in 2018, helping the star-studded Vancouver Knights to a seven-beat win over West Indies B in King City, Ont. Zafar scored two goals and scored 79 off-target, launching eight quads and three six-pointers in 48 innings, in the title match.
He was the Knights top catcher in the 2019 tournament in Brampton, where Vancouver finished second to the Winnipeg Hawks. Safar also won the man of the match award in a playoff win over Brampton Wolves that year.
Zafar launched in Canada in 2008 and regularly since 2015. Canada has no testing status, so it’s limited to T20 and international one day (50 times).
He plays club cricket for the Brampton Masters but his sport often takes him abroad to join other teams. Zafar has also played twice in the Caribbean Premier League. He will be flying south to compete in a tournament next month in Fort Lauderdale.
Canada’s size and weather complicate the lives of cricketers.
“There’s a lot of potential here. The only reason we’re not doing really well in the world stage is not because we’re under-talented. It’s just because we can’t play more games throughout the year. “, said Zafar. “The other teams mostly play year round so they have more experience than us.”
Zafar has to practice indoors in the winter – or head south to play for championship teams.
“That’s what we do to stay competitive,” he said. “It’s still not enough but it’s the best we can do.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also wreaked havoc on the schedule, essentially knocking the Canadian team out for almost two years.
Canada (5-1-0) finished second to the US (6-0-0) in the recent seven-nation regional qualifier in Antigua.
Both teams now advance to one of two eight-country global qualifying tournaments, in Dubai in February or Zimbabwe in May.
“It will be a tougher competition,” said Zafar.
Four teams will emerge from two global qualifiers to join hosts Australia, and 11 automatically qualify from the 2021 ICC Men’s World Cup to make up the 16 2022 T20 World Cup men’s teams.
Canada has never qualified for the tournament.
This Canadian Press report was first published on November 20, 2021