LAHORE-Newly-appointed Team Director of Pakistan men’s cricket team, Mohammad Hafeez, has emphasises the importance of players putting representing their country and participating in domestic cricket ahead of global leagues.
Hafeez’s comments come amidst recent instances where players opted for foreign leagues over domestic competitions. All-rounder Imad Wasim’s decision to skip the Pakistan Cup and National T20 to play in the Abu Dhabi T10 raised concerns, leading to his subsequent retirement. Similarly, pacer Haris Rauf was denied a NOC to participate in the Big Bash League (BBL), emphasizing the team management’s stance on prioritizing domestic cricket.
“We need to prioritize representing Pakistan. We also need to bring playing domestic cricket in Pakistan to the top of our priorities. Red-ball cricket is the most important cricket, but we are seeing many players in Pakistan are moving away from or don’t want to play red-ball cricket,” Hafeez said this during a press conference here on Tuesday ahead of the Australia Test series. “To bring focus back, we are going to take some measures. Perhaps some people will feel they are a little harsh, but this is important to save Pakistan cricket,” he added.
Hafeez, known as ‘Professor’, explained the significance of red-ball cricket in polishing players’ basics. “Until we are not playing red-ball cricket well, we cannot play any cricket. Long-form cricket polishes your basics, and our strategy is that we will promote players, who play red-ball cricket and give them maximum opportunities. If someone has moved away from this path, we need to bring them back to improve their game.”
He also revealed that the PCB would soon announce the NOC policy, taking players’ workloads into consideration. “If we want fit players, we need to manage workloads,” Hafeez emphasised, linking it to the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Praising Babar Azam for his contributions to Pakistan cricket, Hafeez acknowledged the pressure relief that comes with not being the captain. “Not being captain will release pressure from Babar. Captaincy definitely adds pressure onto a cricketer, and if someone denies that, they are wrong. With that pressure eased, I think Babar’s performance will get even better.”
The Pakistan team is set to leave for Australia on November 30 to participate in a three-match Test series, a crucial component of the ICC World Test Championship. The series will commence with the first Test in Perth from 14-18 December 2023.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board has announced the Team Management for the upcoming Test tour to Australia. Naveed Akram Cheema (Team manager), Mohammad Hafeez (Director – Pakistan men’s cricket team), Adam Hollioake (batting coach), Simon Grant Helmot (high performance coach), Umar Gul (fast bowling coach), Saeed Ajmal (spin bowling coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Mansoor Rana (assistant team manager), Shahid Aslam (assistant batting coach).
Others include Drikus Saaiman (strength and conditioning coach/Trainer), Cliffe Deacon (physiotherapist), Talha Ejaz (team analyst), Lt Col (Rtd) Akhtar Hussain (security manager), Raza Rashid Kitchlew (media manager), Ammar Ahsan (videographer), Dr Sohail Saleem (team doctor) and Malang Ali (team masseur).