LAHORE - Pakistan star all-rounder Shahid Afridi Thursday said that if he was asked, he would have given up his spot for a younger player in the squad for Zimbabwe tour.
Talking to the reporters here at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) where the camp of Pakistan team is in full swing to prepare for Zimbabwe tour, Afridi said: “Tours, like this, are great opportunities for the youngsters who should get as much of a chance to play as possible. I think the youngsters deserve the most opportunity against Zimbabwe. This will be a thought in the captain and coach's minds, and I hope the youngsters get their chance. If asked, I would have given up my spot for a younger player. However, I will not comment on any issues with selection. If they have selected me, then it's my job to play.”
He said every tour for Pakistan was important, regardless of the team they were playing against. “I know that facilities are not available due to the rain, nonetheless, indoor practice has been organised. I know it isn't the same as preparing outside. You cannot practice fielding properly indoors as there are many chances of an injury when practicing on an artificial surface.”
“Fast bowlers are not getting ample practice while batsmen are using throw-downs and machines to practice. Apart from that, the boys have been practicing individually,” he added.
Talking about West Indies series, the star all-rounder said: “Winning any series - like we did against the West Indies - regardless of the opposition, serves as a great morale booster for the team. I think this tour is a good opportunity for the boys and for me as well. We can get in form with both bat and ball through this tour. There are also new young players coming to the team, so this is a good sign from the selection committee as they deserve credit for this.”
“I think we can use the Zimbabwe series as morale booster. If we perform well in this series - with the boys scoring lots of runs, and bowlers bowling well then that will increase confidence within the team. No doubt, Zimbabwe and South Africa are very different tours in terms of opposition. The series against South Africa will be quite challenging and fun and we can use that as preparation for the series against Sri Lanka,” he added.
Commenting on the upcoming World Cup in 2015, he said: “I know it is far ahead, but before that we should have at least 10-15 young players that can be selected to play for our team.”
To another query, Afridi said: “Scoring a century is very tough at No 7. Yeah, if it so happens that everyone on top gets out quickly, then that's a different situation. I have never been looking to simply score big, if you perform according to plan, according to the captain's plan and help the team out, that performance is more than enough.”
When asked about the inconsistency in the West Indies tour from him, he said: “This is something I have always said, I hope to become more consistent with my performances and I always try to do so.”
To a query regarding his retirement, the all-rounder said: “The 2015 World Cup is in my mind, however, that will depend on my performance and fitness as well.” Praising the captaincy of Misbahul Haq, he said: “I am very impressed with the positive manner in which Misbah is leading the team. His positive approach in his captaincy is what I would like to play under.”
When asked about a lack of upcoming quality spinners after Ajmal and himself, the all-rounder said: “I think domestic cricket is taking place and the selection committee has their eyes on the players. It's not possible that in a nation which is filled with people who love cricket - where people have cricket in their blood - there is no quality spinner coming up. Once we look carefully, we will find at least one spinner. In my view, there is a lot of talent available in domestic cricket.”
To a query regarding no international cricket in home grounds, he said: “Obviously, it affects you when you can't play international cricket in your home grounds and it makes a lot of difference. But, I will say this again, I have said this many times before we need to make our domestic cricket as strong as possible.
“And like there are T20 competitions in our domestic cricket that the PCB organises, tournaments like this should also take place in towns like Gujranwala, Bhawalpur, Hyderabad, and other places like Rawalpindi as well where there will be huge and enthusiastic crowds to watch these games.”