Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Reacting to players avoiding domestic cricket, Pakistan Cricket Team Director Mohammad Hafeez Tuesday stressed that the players' first priority should be representing Pakistan and playing domestic cricket instead of partaking in leagues across the world.
In the recent past, all-rounder Imad Wasim opted to skip the Pakistan Cup and ongoing National T20 since his desire was to play Abu Dhabi T10, which starts today.
Later, he announced his retirement while pacer Haris Rauf has not been awarded NOC and asked to play domestic tournament instead of the Big Bash League (BBL).
Hafeez stressed that the management wanted players to know the importance of red-ball cricket and that some decisions would be made to save Pakistan cricket.
"We need to prioritise 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're seeing many players in Pakistan are moving away from or don't want to play red-ball cricket," Hafeez said in a press conference ahead of departing for the Australia Test series.
"To bring focus back, we're going to take some measures. Perhaps some people will feel they're a little harsh, but this is important to save Pakistan cricket," he added.
"Until we aren't playing red-ball cricket well, we can't 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," Hafeez maintained.
He said that PCB will soon make the NOC policy public while keeping in mind players' workloads.
"When you're offered a central contract, the FTP of all three formats is kept in mind, and players getting central contracts should be available for Pakistan. We have leagues as well, but we saw a lot of talk in the World Cup that players were fatigued due to heavy workloads."
"We have the T20 World Cup in mind going forward, and the NOC policy will keep Pakistan's priorities in mind. If we want fit players, we need to manage workloads," he maintained.
Meanwhile, Hafeez showered praise on Babar Azam for his services to Pakistan cricket.
"As a batter, Babar Azam has immense contributions for Pakistan. Not being captain will release pressure from him. Captaincy definitely adds pressure onto a cricketer, and if someone denies that, they are wrong," he added.
"With that pressure eased, I think Babar's performance will get even better. He has already been making excellent contributions for Pakistan cricket, and I think he will further enhance his performance to help Pakistan achieve success," he concluded.