Pakistan news March 19, 2017

Hafeez admits struggle, but says selection justified


Mohammad Hafeez did not have a productive tour of Australia © Cricket Australia

Pakistan allrounder Mohammad Hafeez has said he was satisfied with his recent ODI performances in Australia - although "it wasn't outstanding" - because he felt under pressure on two fronts: he was making a comeback to the team and it was his first series with a remodelled action.

Hafeez wasn't selected in the original ODI squad for the Australia tour but was called up a few days later because Azhar Ali got injured. He scored a match winning half-century in Melbourne to lead Pakistan to their only win on the tour, but finished with 123 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 72.

In the PSL that followed, Hafeez made only 153 runs at a strike rate of 99 in nine innings - 77 came in one game - during Peshawar Zalmi's run to the title. However, he was retained in the ODI squad and recalled to the T20I side for the upcoming tour of the Caribbean.

"My performance in Australia wasn't outstanding, but I felt it was okay," Hafeez said in Lahore, when asked if he had expected to be retained. "I was under pressure for two reasons - one because it was my comeback as a player, and secondly because it was my first series back as a bowler. Though I couldn't get wickets, I felt I bowled according to the situation and my economy was quite good, which helped the team.

"In the PSL, my role wasn't defined properly and my position in the batting order changed, but that is not an excuse. I did struggle and my performances weren't strong enough. But when selectors opt for a player, they look at the conditions and requirements in the team. I am happy they have given me the responsibility and trusted me.

"If you look at my numbers, I think I deserve to be in the Pakistan team. In the last two years, I think I have played 28 to 29 matches and averaged 38 in ODIs. I have always believed that a few matches, or one or two series, don't justify your talent. Good and bad days do come but when you are a proven player, you surely get more chances."

When asked about Pakistan players' reluctance to retire, Hafeez said he would not hang around if he felt he wasn't able to perform. "I will definitely think about [retirement] when my time comes. I am 36 right now. I believe that my performances and fitness are justifying my place for Pakistan. I will only play until I feel I can match the level of performances I expect of myself."

Hafeez reiterated his views about corruption, saying that guilty players should be banned for life. In 2015, he reportedly turned down an offer to play for Chittagong Vikings in the BPL because Mohammad Amir, who was returning from a five-year ban for spot-fixing, was on the team. Hafeez had also been reluctant to train with Amir but has played with the fast bowler since. Pakistan cricket recently suffered another blow when a corruption scandal hit the PSL. Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed were provisionally suspended by the PCB in relation to the case.

"Everyone can have their opinion but mine is strong," Hafeez said. "I have stood by it for all my life and it is a principled stance. It wasn't for or against any individual. The stance was simple: whoever hurts the reputation of Pakistan and is proven guilty shouldn't get that respect back. I am not a policy maker but what we are facing now is very painful.

"Whoever plays for Pakistan is responsible for upholding the respect that he gets on an individual level. And if someone tells me that it was a mistake, I don't consider it a mistake; it's a crime. So this thing coming up again is painful for me and for the whole country, so it is high time that a stern decision is made about players who have been proven guilty to set an example for others."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • karimm1329628 on March 23, 2017, 22:10 GMT

    Clearly Hafeez lives in an alternative reality.....

  • crick06227652 on March 23, 2017, 18:18 GMT

    This is not so good. Hafeez is yes an experienced player but pakistan needs young talent. Yes, we need support for sarfaraz but he has been in the team long enough now. Team should be 1:Ahmed Shehzad 2:Fakhar Zaman 3:Babar Azam 4:Malik 5: Sarfaraz(c/wk) 6:Shadab Khan 7:Imad Wasim 8:Nawaz 9:Hasan Ali 10:Rumman Raees 11: Wahab Riaz. This isnt bad considering what we are taking but we are missing many players such as fawad alam and muhammad amir(understand that he is rested)

  • Dawood on March 23, 2017, 0:53 GMT

    Go Hafeez Go. Go Hafeez Go

  • zaf on March 22, 2017, 19:25 GMT

    PAK can't win without SARJEEL KHAN. Make my words.

  • ahtasham on March 22, 2017, 2:45 GMT

    I hope Shadab khan plays well in WI. Only that we can get rid of this non performing hafeez. Hafeez had advantage of an alrounder. But Shadab khan can do a lot better. Still early days though for him

  • Ali on March 21, 2017, 19:33 GMT

    Hafeez, Malik, Tanveer, Wahab -- you see a trend? We have too many non-performing players in the team.

    Heck, even Shafiq seems to be a better choice than Hafeez in T20Is and that is saying a lot!

  •   cricfan4505434012 on March 21, 2017, 16:11 GMT

    Well said hafeez. I am your biggest srilankan fan. You are a good all rounder but most if pakistan fan critucs your performance in every series ; waiting to see your new rise agaunst west indies hope we srilanka and pakidtan will play in the champions trophy semis 2017 ; please play well against indians and we 22.5 millions srilankan are supporting pak and u always massive respect from srilanka. Thank you hafeez*

  • Farhan on March 21, 2017, 11:34 GMT

    Bigger fear is that Hafeez (and the other mediocre bunch) will perform a little better against rubbish WI attack and cement their place in the team for two more series. Pathetic ... absolutely (without doubt) Pathetic

  •   cricfan69564930 on March 21, 2017, 2:40 GMT

    well done Mr Hafeez on your outspoken anti-corruption stance..guys like you and Misbah would be good to have policing cricket corruption after you retire..or on the PCB...

  •   cricfan69564930 on March 21, 2017, 2:35 GMT

    i hope all readers read the side-story with Misbah calling for life bans for fixers... i 100% agree with Misbah,and guys like him and Azhar Ali who speak out against fixing should be offered anti-corruption policing jobs after they finish playing...or jobs in the PCB...

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