Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has revealed that legendary pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar convinced him not to retire after he kept being overlooked.
Tired of being stuck in a cycle where he was not playing international cricket, Hafeez admitted that he considered taking some “drastic steps”, but admitted that a phone call from Akhtar, along with support from his wife, stopped him from doing so.
Hafeez was overlooked for the recent Asia Cup and was initially left out of the squad for the ongoing Test series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates.
However, he was added a few days before the series began and made his presence felt on the opening day of the first Test in Dubai by scoring a magnificent 126, which was his 10th century in the longest format.
“I had a few problems in the last few months,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “I could have taken some steps, drastic, but I was stopped from taking them. I could have taken them, my wife stopped me. Shoaib Akhtar specially called me and at that time I was thinking of drastic steps as I was very disturbed.
“I think Allah is the best planner and he planned good things for me. I could have been something else this time. I probably think this is the place where I had to stage a comeback. When I came back in the team all the players welcomed me and gave me confidence, and that increased my inner energy so I am very happy at the comeback.”
This is the fifth time Hafeez has made his comeback in Test cricket, but the 37-year-old pointed out that having to prove his worth time and time again made him into a better cricketer.
“Look, [even] Younis Khan had to prove himself, even in his last Test, so it happens with us,” Hafeez said. “It’s like this and it’s tough to make [others] understand, and understand it yourself, how many times you have to prove yourself.
“You are challenged by that, your critics challenge you, and they wait for your bad performances and highlight them. That challenges you and it brings the best out of you. That has worked for me and Allah has helped me. I always want to play positive and leave behind all such things.”
Hafeez also admitted that he knew a recall was coming, even after he was left out of the Test squad initially, due to his performances on the domestic circuit.
Hafeez represented Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and some of his highlights include a six-wicket haul against the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and a magnificent 213 against Peshawar.
“Don’t know about the mindset because I was looking forward to take that challenge,” he said. “I was announced as 18th member by the management later on. I was playing domestic cricket and scoring runs so I was expecting a recall. I was in a positive frame of mind that I am going back into the team and that I will perform.”
Given a rough few months, where he was frustrated at being overlooked and not representing his country when selected, Hafeez insisted that he wants to conclude his illustrious career “with respect”.
“Look, whoever the player is, he wants to leave with respect, and that is my wish,” he said. “I want to play with respect and end with respect. There are other avenues after that but whatever life is left in me I want to play for Pakistan and leave on a high.”