Tales of triumph over adversity are a dime a dozen in contemporary sport, but the story of Pakistani Farhan Saeed brings all others into perspective.
A victim of polio as a two-year-old, Saeed has lived his life with a left leg that has been of little use to him; instead, he relies on a crutch for mobility, and incredibly, to perform the task for which he possesses a burning passion: bowling.
Like the legendary Shoaib Akhtar, the man who inspired him to pursue the craft originally, Saeed hurtles in from a long run, crutch propelling him along the way, and delivers the ball with all the menace he can muster.

Farhan Saeed in action with his Pakistan team

And just like the deliveries of the Rawalpindi Express, Saeed’s offerings since his debut with Pakistan’s national physical disability team have turned heads in their own right.

“The first time Pakistan’s disabled cricket team played international series was in 2012 against England in the UAE,” said Mohammad Nizam, the side’s media manager and joint-secretary of PDCA.
“Many high-profile people of cricket, including the former ICC Chief Haroon Lorgat and the former PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf, were present at the venue when Farhan Saeed delivered first ball.
“Everyone’s eyes became wet on seeing him bowl for the first time. If you see videos of his bowling action it is really unbelievable and it is rare to find such talent.”
Saeed himself says his miraculous bowling action – which once garnered him 5-22 in a five-over spell – was honed on the streets of Pakistan and prospered from the prayers of his parents.
“I haven’t learned it from anyone,” he told cricket.com.au. “I have done everything of my own.
“During the days of street cricket, my friends used to wonder how I would bowl like a proper bowler so they suggested me to do away with the run up and chuck the ball.
“But I was keen to bowl with a run up and over-arm action rather than doing the spot bowling so I kept trying it with overarm style and when I finally learned it many people, including some first-class cricketers, suggested me to continue with it.
“Most of the batsmen find it difficult to bat against me. They come to me after the match telling how confusing it was for them to play against me.
“It is all due my parents’ prayers and my passion for the game that I bowl so well.”
Farhan Saeed in action with his Pakistan team

That passion was also fuelled by a meeting with none other than Shoaib – one that turned out somewhat differently to what both bowlers may have expected.
“I have met nearly all players of the Pakistan’s national cricket team,” Saeed smiled.
“Shoaib was quite impressed to see me bowling, so much so that after the meeting I read in a newspaper him saying, ‘I went to give tips to a bowler who was on crutches, but after seeing his control on line and length I myself learned many things from him and I urge other bowlers to learn from him’.”

Farhan Saeed in action with his Pakistan team

Saeed believes he has developed considerably since being welcomed into the fold of the Pakistan Disabled Cricket Association (PDCA), an organisation that is gathering momentum thanks to recent financial support and media recognition.
“A lot of people get amazed when they see me playing,” he said. “They wonder at my confidence on bowling with the stick (crutch).
“They usually get concerned when they watch me running as they fear I will lose balance and fall over but I have never felt that way.
“When I used to play on the roads and streets, I was prone to losing balance and slipped many times.
“Now I have been part of the disabled team since 2007 and not even once I felt like losing balance or felt the stick getting slipped.
“The members of PDCA – President Saleem Karim, Secretary Amiruddin Ansari, joint-secretary Mohammad Nizam – have instilled lot of confidence and passion in me and made me believe that I can do things which sometimes a normal person can’t.
“I am very thankful to all the people at PDCA who have treated me like a family member.”
Farhan Saeed in action with his Pakistan team