Yoosuf Azyan is an international cricket for the Maldives cricket team. Having played premier cricket in Australia, Yoosuf is one of the upcoming stars of associate nation cricket. In this exclusive, we caught up with him to chat about cricket in the island nation and more.
Zushan Hashmi: How did you get involved in cricket? What inspired you to start playing?
Yoosuf Azyan: From the moment I was born, all I can remember is having a cricket bat in my hand, and my family has a cricketing background so I guess that is how I got involved in cricket.
Both my Grandfather and my father have also played cricket locally and for the national team, so I guess I have it in my blood.
You have been pitted as one of the future stars of Maldives, do you find it easy to live up to these expectations? How do you manage them?
Getting to the top is never the hard part. Maintaining your game at the level is the real challenge and it is hard work to live up to the expectations, but I love the challenge. I always try to do my best and not to put too much pressure on myself.
You obviously bowl a bit and bat too, tell me a little bit about being an allrounder?
Being an allrounder is certainly challenging. You have to be fitter than most of the other players around.
But you also have more of a chance of being a game-changer for your team, as you’ll have to be involved in all aspects of the game.
I, personally, prefer being a batting allrounder, as I enjoy batting more than bowling.
How is cricket growing in the Maldives, and why do you want to be a part of that?
I think cricket in the Maldives is slowly growing, I think with the right guidance we have the potential to move up the ranks.
The Maldives will always be my home country and before I retire I want to do something special for Maldives cricket at the world elite level.
Do you have the appropriate sporting systems in place in the country for you to improve and grow your game?
We have a decent indoor facility here, but I feel like we do not have enough resources right now for me to take my game to the next level. One day, we might have a good enough system so that The Maldives can also produce world-class players.
Tell me a bit about the T20I’s you played as part of the South Asian Games Men’s Cricket competition?
It was my T20 debut so I was very excited about it. The game against Bhutan was my first T20 international game and to be able to hit the winning runs and win the game for the team was a very special feeling.
Also being able to rub shoulders with some great international cricketers from the opposing team was amazing.
Was that loss against Nepal difficult? How was it working with your support staff to move on and look ahead from that?
As heartbreaking as the loss was, we had lots of positives to take from that game.
To have been able to give such a strong fight to such a big team has shown how much we have improved as a team.
All the support staff and people back home had very positive feedback for us and hopefully, soon enough, we will be beating big cricketing nations as well!
As a young player, is playing cricket enough to make a living at the moment?
Here in the Maldives, it is not possible to make a living out of cricket as players do not get paid too much, so most of us have to play cricket and also go to work in order to make a living.
Do you expect this to change in the future?
Honestly speaking, I have no idea about it, but I hope it changes because people like me would love to make a living out of playing sports and I am sure there would be others who would want the same as well.
Tell us a little bit about the Maldives cricket team, some of the players, and your own experiences in the dressing room?
The Maldives Cricket team is quiet young, but full of talented players. Mohamed Rishwan is one of the best most dangerous batsmen going around the associate level, and we also have one of the best fast bowlers at associate levels in Hassan Ibrahim.
There are many other players as well, and with such a young squad with the mixture of experienced players in the team. I think there is a good vibe in the dressing rooms as we constantly keep learning from each other.
What would you say to young Maldivians who want to play cricket?
I think it is important that you enjoy the game, more than anything, and there is so much more to it than just playing, as you meet new people and learn so much in life through cricket too.
Any other thoughts comments?
I would want to thank everyone who has supported me by my side every step of my career and especially to the Greenvale Kangaroos Cricket Club in Australia for giving me the opportunity to play premier cricket in Australia.
It has been one of the biggest steps for me to go and ultimately play at a much higher international stage.