Pakistan Cricket director urges focus on domestic cricket for Pakistani players

Pakistan Cricket

ISLAMABAD: In response to a trend of players bypassing domestic cricket, Pakistan Cricket Team Director Mohammad Hafeez said on Tuesday that representing Pakistan and participating in domestic cricket should take precedence over engagements in international leagues.

Recently, all-rounder Imad Wasim opted out of the Pakistan Cup and ongoing National T20 to play in the Abu Dhabi T10, starting today.

Subsequently, he announced his retirement, while pacer Haris Rauf, denied a NOC, was encouraged to play in a domestic tournament rather than participating in the Big Bash League (BBL).

Hafeez underscored the management’s desire for players to recognize the significance of red-ball cricket, noting that decisions would be made to safeguard Pakistan cricket.

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“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 before 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 announced that the PCB would soon unveil the NOC policy, taking into consideration 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.

In the meantime, Hafeez commended Babar Azam for his contributions 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.

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