It is the 4th of March, 2009. England have just touched down in Trinidad ahead of the final Test of their West Indies tour. The dust is settling on a drawn game in Barbados, in which their hosts made 749 in almost 200 overs to maintain their 1-0 lead. England had played all the cricket in the series, but the West Indies had held out in all three games since Jamaica, where a catastrophic, calamitous two hours had gifted them the Test and sowed the seeds which would eventually flower into this website.
The England management had some decisions to make. Andrew Flintoff had gone home, Ryan Sidebottom was averaging 181 in the series, while Steve Harmison was at least five years past his sell by date. They wanted pace and penetration, and they were running out of options. There was only one man for the job. Nods of agreement all round, it was time for the secret weapon. They were about to create a legend. The first man to be both an Unlikely Lad and a One Cap Wonder (apart from both Ajmal Shahzad and Jon Lewis – Ed). It’s the Prince of Denmark. It’s…
The road from Copenhagen to a Test match in the Caribbean is not a well-travelled one. In fact, our Amjad is the only Danish-born Test cricketer ever, so it isn’t just his pace and skill that makes him unique. Only in cricket could the youngest player to represent Denmark go on to become an English one-cap wonder, but that’s how his career panned out. Assuming, of course, that there is to be no glorious comeback in the years to come. Which there won’t be.
Amjad made his List A and first class debuts for Kent either side of the millennium and his performances at domestic level vary wildly from excellence to comedic ineptitude, a trait which presumably prompted Peter Moores’ England setup to keep their eye on him. It wasn’t until returning from knee surgery in 2008 that international honours became a realistic possibility, and from there things happened fast; drafted into the Performance Squad in 2008 he would have joined the full ODI tour to India the same year were it not for some very naughty men doing some very nasty things in Mumbai.
By then it was just a matter of time; he would grace the England shirt at some stage, the question was when. It was not to be the Test series in India, though he was in the squad, and for a time it looked like he’d miss out again in the West Indies. That was until Ryan Sidebottom misplaced his compromising photos of various ECB officials and was promptly thrown out of the side. So, with England desperately trying to save the series, Amjad’s week in the sun had arrived.
And what a week it was. He didn’t bat in either innings as England declared twice in the match, and began his international bowling career with three no balls in his opening over. He bowled 12 in all on his way to figures of 1/111. The only man to fall victim to his peculiar brand of filth was Ramnaresh Sarwan, who had made 294 in the previous game. Andrew Strauss’s confidence in his new charge was beautifully demonstrated in West Indies second innings where, with the tourists again racing against the clock to bowl them out, Amjad bowled just four overs. Two more no balls later and that was his Test career done and dusted.
He did play once more for England, though, in a T20 against the same opponents just a few days later. These were the good old days, where England were really, really rubbish at the twenty over stuff; the side contained Gareth Batty, Dmitri Mascharenhas and Strauss batting at number six. Amjad took two scalps (Sarwan, again, being one of them. It’s no wonder he doesn’t think Leicestershire is that bad a gig) but there were three English run outs, they were bowled out for 121 and absolutely walloped by six wickets. Since then he has emigrated from Kent to Sussex, where he can occasionally be spotted getting out first ball in CB40 matches which happen to be on TV while you’re writing about him.
That 2009 tour to the Caribbean was truly horrific watching for the most part. The pitches were flatter than the poor piece of turf Graeme Smith body-slammed at Headingley, both teams were painfully negative and England didn’t even win. But it did give birth to some 51allout legends, of which Amjad Khan is one. Conversation in the bunker often drifts to that series; to Brendan Nash wheeling away for hours, to the almost incomprehensibly bad Daren Powell, to collapsing in the face of Suliemann Benn’s ungainly, loopy rubbish or to Amjad no-balling like Imran Tahir on steroids. For that we will always be grateful. A small, gin-fueled den will fight to keep his legacy alive.