Tour of South Africa: ‘We need to play more Tests’

Hafeez rues lack of fixtures but confident of good show in South Africa.

January 14, 2013
Azhar’s development as a cricketer, according to Hafeez, has been due to the longest format of the game which Pakistan needs to be part of more and more. PHOTO: AFP

Mohammad Hafeez has rued the lack of exposure Pakistan team has in Test matches ahead of the team’s first Test series since last June.

Pakistan’s last five-day assignment was against Sri Lanka – followed by the three-match series against England earlier that year – and it only played 50-over and 20-over cricket for the rest of the year.

Pakistan will meet South Africa in the longer version from February 1 and Hafeez, the Twenty20 captain, felt that it would not be an easy task for his side to switch to the format after being away from it for so long.

“I think the board should seek more Tests in the schedule [FTP],” the all-rounder told reporters at the National Stadium yesterday. “It’s very unfortunate that we played just six Tests in the entire year while other teams play 12 to 13 matches. It will be difficult to adjust to the format after a long period since Test matches are also very important as it make players which Twenty20 or One-Day Internationals can’t produce.”

Team motivated after India triumph 

Meanwhile, the senior all-rounder said that despite the lack of exposure in the format, the team was motivated ahead of the three-match rubber, given the good show in India.

“Our morale is high after a successful tour of India. The Test squad, under Misbahul Haq, has given consistent performances in the last couple of years. We are very confident and I can guarantee we’ll fight hard against South Africa.”

‘We are one fast bowler short’

Pakistan’s Test squad was announced on Friday but Hafeez, who said he was not part of the selection process, believed that the squad was short of one fast-bowler.

The 16-man squad consists of Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan and Ehsan Adil as the four fast-bowlers, with Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman as the two spinners.

“We are going with four pacers and I personally feel we are short of one fast bowler, considering the conditions there. Junaid is bowling well. Then we have Irfan who proved himself the surprise package in India. He won his place after a good show but it would’ve been good to have one extra pacer.”

‘My success a result of hard work’

Hafeez, who has emerged as the best all-rounder in limited-overs, said the success was a result of sheer hard work.

“I continued to work hard on my flaws even when I was out of the team,” said Hafeez, who won the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Player of the Year Award on Saturday. “I try to learn every day and this hard work is paying dividends.”

Meanwhile, Hafeez lauded the PCB’s move of holding the awards, adding that the prizes will create competition among the players for the coming year.

“It’s a great move by the board and it means that every player will strive to put on a great show hoping to win an award next year. This will create a healthy competition in the team.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2013.

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