Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez defends resting Shaheen Shah Afridi for third Test

Team director Mohammad Hafeez has defended Pakistan’s decision to line up without spearhead fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi in the third Test, saying he had a duty of care to the Pakistan players that extended beyond individual games and series. He also said it was the team management – and not the player – that had made the final call.

Speaking after Pakistan’s eight-wicket defeat against Australia at the SCG,, Hafeez said he had to prioritise Afridi’s long-term career. “He bowled really well in those two games and bowled the most of any bowler,” he said. “When I asked him before the third Test, his body was sore. And I need to look after him more than anything.”

Afridi’s omission further weakened an already depleted Pakistan bowling attack that had begun the series without the injured Naseem Shah, the unavailable Haris Rauf, and the unfit Abrar Ahmed. Pakistan’s reliance on Afridi in such circumstances was evident in the frequency with which Shan Masood turned to him in the first two games, with Afridi bowling just shy of 100 overs in two Test matches. No fast bowler from either side – even those who played three Tests, bowled anywhere close to that number, and by the end of the second Test, the second-busiest bowler was offspinner Nathan Lyon, having sent down fewer than 70 overs.

The short turnaround time between the MCG and SCG Tests proved a bridge too far for Afridi. “If someone thinks their body is sore and they can’t deliver the best, we need to look after the career of the individual. I will never make a decision where a player can lose his career for six months or a year. It was a tough call but we made that decision for the betterment of the players. Because we cannot make that decision at the cost of a player’s career.”

The call to sit Afridi out provoked intense debate, with accusations that the PCB was prioritising T20 cricket at the expense of the longer format. That criticism was most fiery from former Pakistan fast bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, with Wasim rejecting the claim that the management had rested Afridi, believing the player had made himself unavailable.

“Let’s not pretend this has anything to do with the management,” Wasim said on Fox Cricket. “It is solely Shaheen’s decision. “Straight after this there are five T20s in New Zealand, and Shaheen’s the captain. But T20 cricket, who cares? It’s there for entertainment and it’s there for financial gain for cricket boards, for players, but cricketers should know that Test cricket is the ultimate.”

Waqar said Afridi’s absence “made me laugh”, calling it “a real shocker”. “I was expecting him to be a part of this Test match because he looked good in the previous match. He started feeling like the old Shaheen Afridi and started to swing the ball and the pace was getting better.”

Afridi was appointed captain of the Pakistan T20I series in November, and the vice-captain of the Test side ahead of the first Test in Perth. He has yet to take charge of a match, with his first assignment a five-match T20I series in New Zealand from January 12 to 21. It is followed by the PSL, where Afridi is captain of Lahore Qalandars, whom he led to successive T20 titles in the last two years. The T20 World Cup takes place in June in the United States and the West Indies.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *