Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez admitted that he was nowhere near his best in the recent ODI series in Australia, but despite this, the 36-year-old firmly believes that he deserves to be in the national team.
In the ODI series against Australia, Hafeez, who was a late call-up after batsman Azhar Ali got injured, only scored 123 runs in five matches at an average of 24.60. He also failed to take any wickets despite bowling a total of 39 overs in the five games.
Hafeez continued to struggle in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), where he represented Peshawar Zalmi, who went on to win the tournament. In 10 matches, Hafeez accmuluated 153 runs at an average of 17, but took seven wickets at an average of 13.85.
Even though he failed to impress in Australia and throughout the PSL, Hafeez was still included in Pakistan’s ODI and Twenty20 squads for the upcoming tour of the West Indies.
“My performance in Australia wasn’t outstanding, but I felt it was okay,” Hafeez said in Lahore. “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 if he has plans to retire soon, Hafeez made it clear that he won’t wait around if he feels that he is unable to perform to the best of his abilities.
“I will definitely think about [retirement] when my time comes,” he said. “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.”
Like Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Hafeez admitted that any player found guilty of corruption in cricket should be banned for life.
Hafeez’s comments on the matter come after Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan and Shahzaib Hasan were provisionally suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for their alleged roles in a corruption scandal relating to the PSL.
Sharjeel and Latif have already been charged, while out-of-favour opener Nasir Jamshed was arrested in the United Kingdom before being released on bail.
“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.”