The World of T20 Cricket is constantly revolutionizing. Through all the changes, each team player’s role is significant, and the importance of a specialist leg-spin bowler cannot be undermined. Truly a rare breed, spotting an effective one is challenging, to say the least. A very talented leg-spin specialist, Junaid Siddiqui, is one of the names that is emerging from the North Americas. From playing juniors to entering the senior Canadian National Team, Junaid has always made his presence felt. He has held many trophies over the past years, and his motivation and talent are apparent from his performance in each game.
Rayad Emrit, a West Indian cricketer who has lead various T20 franchises, such as Guyana Amazon Warriors (CPL), St. Kitts and Navis Patriots (CPL), and was the winning Captain representing Winnipeg Hawks (GT20), said, “I think Junaid is one of the best leg spinners that I have played with and against in the recent years. I have seen him over the years, and every single time he has been improving. I know that he keeps working tremendously hard on his game, and just recently, in the Us Open, he was the best spinner in the tournament. He has Modeled his action like Shahid Afridi, and he seems to be getting the just rewards. I don’t think it far away when we will see him breaking into the CPL and other big T20 leagues around the globe.”
Being a part of the associate region, some key performances do not surface on record books. Some of those are Junaid taking a 5-for against Srilanka A and attaining the same tour’s highest wickets. Against a powerful Trinidad and Tobago in 3 day and T20 games, Junaid was on top of Canada’s bowling chart and was very instrumental with the bat. Apart from Canada and GT20, Junaid has been the highest wicket-taker in a US Open edition. He is the only Canadian to lift the US Open trophy so far and, in the US Open 2020 season, conquered one of the top spots in the bowling charts.
Junaid Siddiqui, an emerging name in leg-spinning
Junaid has played 13 T20I matches, earning 10 wickets and having an economy of just 5.91 while bowling most of his overs in power plays. His performance in the recent GT20 was commendable, where he represented Brampton Wolves alongside the likes of Ish Sodhi and Shahid Afridi.
Colin Munro said, “Junaid came into the GT20 3 or 4 games into the tournament for Brampton Wolves. He fitted in beautifully and is a great team man. He is an experienced player and is a captain’s dream as he can bowl in the power play or through the middle. He can attack and get wickets or defend whatever the team needs. He gives his all in the field and always looking for work. With bat on hand, he didn’t get much opportunity but can definitely hit the ball over the ropes with great power. One of the nicest guys going around and is willing to do anything to learn and to be a great teammate.”
When Junaid was asked about his cricket journey so far, he replied,
“I have been blessed to be able to play cricket and represent Canada the way I have been doing. Hopefully, I have made my country and my family very proud .’’
For a leg-spin bowler, starting the spell after power play overs, taking wickets while containing runs has proved successful for bowlers such as Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir, and Rashid khan. What gives Junaid the edge is that he mostly has bowled during power play overs regularly for Canada and franchise cricket teams. This is a rare skill to have on its own, and despite the challenges that come with it, Junaid has proven himself to be one of the top bowlers in the T20s.
“I am quite competitive, and I like to take on challenges. Bowling in power play is definitely one of them. Initially, it was not my choice to bowl this way; I just took up this role when not many could, and I enjoyed it. I have just always been ready to do anything for the team’s success, even if it means to put aside my own personal goals for the benefit of the team.’’
There is a lot of exciting cricket coming forth for Canada, and according to Junaid, they are gearing up for the T20 World Cup spot.
“I am looking forward to the T20 World Cup Qualifiers. We want to make sure we make it through and also be the best in the tournament. Team Canada has been around in the cricket world for some time, and it is now that we make our mark and perform to the best of our potential. I really believe in the team’s ability to do that.”
Junaid has been called “boom boom” by DJ bravo. Saqlain Mushtaq saw Junaid in West Indies High-Performance camp a few years ago and said,
“Junaid Siddiqui is extraordinary. He can spin and drift the ball with incredible control with numerous variations, rare and needed in quality leg-spin bowling. While talking to him, I realized he has an amazing cricketing mind as well. He can analyze the situation quickly, which makes him a very effective bowler.”
Junaid has already been invited for a PSL team pre-camp earlier, and as Rayad said, it is not too far away when we will see him in a different franchise team roaster.