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ĎThe more I study and progress, the more I enjoy ití
Ajmal Shahzad was the first British-born Asian cricketer to play cricket for Yorkshire. Since then he has played Test, one day and T20 cricket for England. But he has another preoccupation Ė studying for his AAT exams
Tell us a bit about your cricketing achievements.
Iím lucky enough to have been a professional cricketer for the past 12 years, representing three county teams Ė Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and currently Sussex CCC. Iíve also represented England in all three formats of the game and I was lucky enough to be part of a T20 World Cup winning squad in Barbados (in 2010), an Ashes winning squad in Australia 2010-2011, and to have participated in the 50-over World Cup competition that was held in India in 2011.
You had to choose between sport and study when you were younger.
Cricket has been a huge part of life since the age of 17, when I turned professional and left my studies behind. But I have a passion for studying and studied pharmacology for a year at the University of Bradford prior to being selected to represent England.
Your father is an accountant. How much influence has this had on you?
Yes, my father is an accountant. After coming to this country and studying accountancy he worked for a business and soon after opened his own practice. This is what allowed me to not only receive the best education possible but to also participate in sports and not worry too much about the future.
What prompted you to start studying accountancy?
I recently turned 30 and as an experienced campaigner I know Iím coming towards the back end of my cricket career. At best I may have six or seven years. I had to start thinking about plans for the future. Where would my income come from? Iíd be naive to think Ďall will be OKí. Hopefully, six years more cricket will give me time to plan and prepare for my future. My father came over from Pakistan and built his business from scratch, so it only feels right to be able to continue to take it forward. I also know this would make him immensely proud. His hard work allowed me to follow my dreams and play cricket without fear of failure, and I feel I owe it to him to study hard so he can enjoy his retirement years.
We understand regular PQ contributor Philip Dunn also had an influence on you.
Philip is a friend and keen Yorkshire cricket supporter, and I speak to him on a regular basis. After Iíd explained how I felt about my years after cricket, he suggested that I should get back into studying and think about the accountancy courses the AAT offers to get me on the accountancy ladder. All I can say now is that I feel itís the best decision Iíve made regarding my future.†
Where are you with your studies? How do you find time to study?
Iím currently studying Level 2 AAT. Iíve completed all but one chapter of this course (I should have it completed by the time this article is published). I feel that to get where I want to be in accountancy I need to start here to grasp the basic principles that will give me a solid foundation to build on. The Kaplan Home Learning course has allowed me to study part-time in and among all my cricketing commitments, and sit my exams when I feel Iím ready. No pressure! Iíve found it immensely stimulating and refreshing. I also feel itís brought an element of freshness to my cricketing game. It allows me to switch off away from the game and concentrate on other goals. Passing assessments on the Level 2 AAT course, I feel Iím getting closer to my end goal and that motivates me even more. The more I study and progress, the more I seem to enjoy it!
What does the future hold?
Times have changed Ė 10 years ago studying anything other than cricket was seen as unnecessary energy expenditure! When I was coming through the cricketing system, school, college, university was seen as a waste of time. Cricket was everything. But as time has gone on, and the financial climate has changed, it seems we are getting paid less and everything costs more! Playing professional cricket is a wonderful occupation, but if you donít have a plan for your future after cricket, then life can quickly become very difficult. A cricketerís wage doesnít come close to a professional footballerís. For that reason, my peers in cricket not only appreciate and support what Iím doing, but are also proud of me. Likewise my family and friends.
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