The Need for Speed

By Mazher Arshad and Adam Burnett

For a wannabe fighter pilot, Sikandar Raza makes an excellent cricketer and one of the sport's most interesting figures.

Not many professional cricketers are in their line of work as a fallback option.
But then again, not many are like Sikandar Raza – a Pakistan-born, Scotland-educated Zimbabwe international.

As recently as six years ago, when he was already well into his 20s, Raza hadn’t even thought about playing cricket at a serious level.

Instead, he had focused his energy elsewhere; specifically, toward the high-octane target of becoming a fighter pilot.

“I never even thought of becoming a cricketer, let alone playing against Pakistan,” Raza told following his side’s historic tour to the nation of his birth.

“I was quite busy with my studies.

“Only after completing graduation and doing Software Engineering from Scotland in 2009 I gave cricket a go.

“I came back to Zimbabwe and was lucky to be there at the right time. Fortunately I got runs as well and that was it.

“Literally, that was it. I had no plans of playing international cricket.

“In my childhood I had always dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. I even appeared in the entrance exam of Pakistan Air Force in Lower Topa (Murree).

“About 10,000 candidates appeared in the test and only 60 got selected.

“I was one of 60 guys who passed the test. After three-and-a-half years they deemed me unfit to fly the aircraft due to medical reasons.
“At that time I had the option of becoming an aeronautical engineer but I quit as my only aim was to become a fighter pilot. I then moved to Government College Lahore and later migrated to Zimbabwe with my family.

“I started playing club cricket in Scotland but only after 2009 I realised that I can become an international cricketer.”

Perhaps relishing the return to the country of his origin, Raza was a standout for Zimbabwe during the recently-completed series, making an unbeaten 100 (from 84 balls – the third-fastest ever by a Zimbabwean) and taking a career-best 3 for 59 in the ODIs.

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