For years, Pakistan cricket was the butt of jokes for the supposed age-fraud that their players indulge in. The man who garnered most attention for hiding his age was Shahid Afridi. According to records, Afridi was 16 years old at the time of his international debut but he accepted in his autobiography that he was actually 19 at the time.
The teenage sensation from Pakistan that everyone is talking about currently is Naseem Shah. Billed as a 16-year old, this young pace bowler has got everyone talking. His ability to generate speeds in high-140s kph along with the skill he possesses has impressed everyone. But now doubts have been raised as to whether he is actually 16.
On Twitter, a picture of an article published in the Dawn newspaper of Pakistan in October 2016 is doing the rounds. This article talks about the visit of four former cricketers – Andy Roberts, Danny Morrison, Jonty Rhodes and Damien Martyn – to Karachi Sports Foundation (KSF), an institute to train young cricketers, as part of a reality TV show called 'Kriket Superstars.'
In this article, legendary West Indian former fast bowler Andy Roberts expresses his admiration for a 16-year old fast bowler called Nasim and regrets that he hasn't got more time to work with him.
"I must say that I very much liked a young fast bowler by the name of Nasim. He is just 16-year old. I am sorry I did not have at least two-three weeks' time to work with him," Sir Andy stated. It is very likely that this Nasim is the same as Naseem Shah.
But that's not the only evidence against Naseem that has surfaced. An old tweet, dated December 1, 2018, by senior Pakistani cricket journalist Saj Sadiq where he mentions a "Highly rated 17-year old pace bowler Nasim Shah" and talks about his back injury and appearance in Pakistan Super League (PSL) is also doing the rounds.
So, not only has Nasim's age remained constant over the years, it seems to have declined. Certainly, age fraud has been a major problem in the Indian sub-continent, especially Pakistan. Shahid Afridi is the biggest example of this phenomenon but there have been suspicions about various bowlers including Mohammad Amir.
There is yet to be an official statement by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to these revelations and claims. It is unlikely that they will respond to this development. However, the International Cricket Council (ICC) may take notice of this as it affects the official records of the game.