Tape ball is the entertaining street version of hardball cricket and Muhammad Shahbaz is the king of this sport in Pakistan. Several exciting talents have come and gone in the street game for decades, but Shahbaz continues to hold his place as Pakistan’s top tape-ball player of all time.
Let’s check out why Shahbaz is the most popular tape-ball player in his home country and other reasons why this sport excites fans in Pakistan.
All About Muhammad ‘Kalia’ Shahbaz
Shahbaz Kalia is the undisputed king of tape ball cricket in Pakistan. He is a top tape ball figure in the sport when you consider his longevity, success, and followership. Kalia featured prominently in the early days of tape ball cricket, performing at several levels to excite street fans.
Insane batting record
Kalia is a popular figure in tape ball cricket mainly due to his performances for more than twenty years. The expert cricketer was able to edge out opposing players to hit up to twenty runs per over in tight games. His batting performance is one of the game’s finest with his appearances in regional and international tape ball events.
Kalia gained fame for hitting many sixes in multiple tournaments, sometimes getting over a dozen runs in a 10-over innings.
Top tape ball promoter
Kalia doubles as one of the game’s biggest promoters in Pakistan and beyond. Many cricketers, fans, and commentators liken Kalia’s ambassadorial role as a tape ball star to pioneers of hardball cricket in England.
Many organizers have worked with Shahbaz in the past and he is a massive promoter from major sponsorship brands in Pakistan. Kalia has organized major tape ball tournaments across many cities in Pakistan. He staged an exciting tape ball event recently featuring experienced Pakistan cricketers like Saleem Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam ul-Haq, and other legendary players.
Belief in tape ball development
Shahbaz believes that tape ball could have a national structure in the coming years based on its popularity and acceptance among Pakistani cricket fans. Currently, the prize money for winning a tape ball tournament could go as high as Rs. 6 lakhs.
Shared history with top international batters
Kalia kicked off his international tape ball career at the Ludhiana Cricket Club, Lahore. The cricket club produces some top Pakistan cricketers like Saud Khan and Waseem Akram. However, Shahbaz’s international career was not to be as he focused on the entertaining variation of street cricket.
Shahbaz confessed that several factors made him abandon his hardball international career for tape-ball cricket:
“Several reasons forced me to opt for tape-ball’s game…Expensive cricket kits, shortage of cricket grounds, little scope of hard-ball cricket at the local level and the destruction of the domestic cricket structure.”
These factors were major drivers that made tape-ball more appealing to Kalia than regular cricket.
Why is Tape Ball So Popular in Pakistan?
Pakistan is the home of tape ball and is a favorite sport for countless street fans and cricketers. The inexpensive setup and wide acceptance among fans makes it one of Pakistan’s most popular street sports.
How Has Tape Ball Evolved Over the Years?
Tape-ball started with wet tennis balls in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Over time, players needed a ball that could provide much-needed resistance to ground impact to even out the odds for batters and bowlers.
Some events saw players shave tennis balls, but this new development was not sustainable and did not provide required results. Players opted for balls taped with electrical wire in the early to middle 1980s; providing better bounce and impact potential than shaved or wet tennis balls.
Which Tape Ball Star Had a Wicked Spin Back in the Day?
Many reports claim that Nadeem Moosa was one of the most unplayable cricketers in the 1970s and 80s. The street cricketer perfected his bowling skills before players began taping tennis balls. He improved his bowling technique to deliver deathly blows by pressing on tennis balls before pitching.
Some commentators also believe Moosa’s prowess forced opposing teams to cover tennis balls with electrical tape.
Which Popular Pakistan Cricketers Started with Tape Ball?
Tape-ball became widely popular in the 80s; generating interest in many young fans to feature as professionals or transition to hardball cricket. Dozens of current and ex-Pakistan cricketers started their career with tape-ball. Some popular Pakistani cricketers that began their career as tape-ball players include Umar Gul, Waqar Younis, Mohammad Sami, and many other big names. Top cricketers like Aaqib Javed and Mohammad Amir were scouted as tape-ball players in their pre-teen years and went on to feature for the national side long after