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If Hafeez plays in the second Test despite his poor run of form, he should at least be fit to bowl. -Photo by AFP
If Hafeez plays in the second Test despite his poor run of form, he should at least be fit to bowl. -Photo by AFP

When Hamilton Masakadza placed Tino Mawoyo at short extra cover, the plan was laid out for everyone to see. Tendai Chatara knew where he had to bowl, as did Pakistani vice-captain Mohammad Hafeez. After playing out seven dot balls that pitched in the channel, Hafeez popped one straight in the hands of the close in fielder. The professor had been outwitted like a school boy.

Hafeez has been nicknamed “Professor” through humorous sarcasm of his teammates. ‘Professing’ his thoughts very vocally on the field of play and in team meetings, Hafeez is the ‘Mr. Know it All’ of the Pakistani cricket team.

His economical bowling is very handy in shorter forms of the game and he has been consistent with the bat. Hafeez is currently ranked as the No. 1 ODI all-rounder and the No. 2 T20 all-rounder in the world.

However, it is Test cricket that has presented a different challenge for his skill set. While his bowling was always going to lack the sting required in the longer format, he has recently not been able to carry his batting form into the five day game either.

In 2013, he has averaged 40.66 with the bat in twenty one ODI games but as low as 8.00 in eight Test innings in the same period. The quality of the opposition might have skewed his numbers but his recent batting miseries in Test cricket are pretty evident. The Proteas have completely exposed and exploited the flaws in his batting technique, again.

Hafeez has the gift of time that is evident in his stroke play; this usually cannot be taught and is an invaluable asset to a batsman. More so, the technical glitches in his game are nothing new for a Pakistani batsman. They are exaggerated in adverse conditions but in friendlier, sub-continent like pitches cause lesser threat.

Hafeez is known to over analyze and over think, especially when it comes to his own game. This usually increases when a batsman is going through a bad patch. One tends to ask; are the feet moving well? Is the head falling over? Is there too much gap between bat and pad? Or is the bat fishing outside off? In clinical psychology, a person can experience fear of performing certain acts or having certain thoughts because of an assumed correlation between doing so and threatening calamities. In simpler words, if you keep thinking that you are fishing outside off, chances are, you will.

After Hafeez pulled his hamstring in the third ODI, he was a doubtful starter for the first Test. He apparently got the nod after an MRI scan and made it to the starting XI. However, heads turned when he did not bowl during the 103 overs that Zimbabwe gritted out in their first innings. It was pertinent to believe that Hafeez had gone into the game without being 100% match fit.

With Shan Masood and Faisal Iqbal in reserve, Hafeez could have easily been rested. It would have presented the perfect opportunity for Pakistan to test its bench strength and also give Hafeez the chance to recuperate.

However, Hafeez is going through a lean period in the longer format and his recent performances in the ODI series suggest that he is just an innings away from a big score. He probably also fancies his chances against a relatively easier opposition and wants to get some runs under his belt before the all important series against the South Africans in UAE.

Cricket is a physical sport but it is the mental strength that separates the over achievers from the also-rans. If he steps out on the field in Harare, it is imperative that ‘The Professor’ takes off his thinking hat, puts on his baggy green and lets his natural instinct take over. He might see the fielder at short extra cover move to deep extra cover very fast.

Most importantly, if Hafeez plays in the second Test despite his poor run of form, he should at least be fit to bowl.

Whether it is the malignant PCB bureaucracy, or a fast bowler steaming in towards him, or his own politically charged teammates, Misbah has always done well to avoid confrontation. It has been his way of doing things, in a lot of ways it is his pivotal strength but in some ways also the cause of his ill fame. As things stand, if declared fit, it is unlikely that he would take the bold step to drop his close aid, Hafeez.

Since November 2010, Hafeez has represented Pakistan in every single international match played across all three formats. Such has been his presence in the Pakistani dressing room, changing that would require a very brave captain.

Comments (37) Closed

Murtaza Sep 09, 2013 06:32pm

I agree 100% with the article. To remove some burden from the captain, the board needs to step up and present this as a decision by the board, coach and the captain. I also think Misbah has to overcome this notion that his job is just to make a 50 and then leave. This has happened many times now; he makes a fifty and is ready to score a big hundred and then gets out in a sloppy fashion.

Yafis Barlas Sep 09, 2013 07:09pm

Hafeez the only "Professor" that doesn't know anything about his subject.

Ali Khan Sep 09, 2013 07:16pm

Please can we stop selecting Faisal Iqbal,Imran Farhat,Taufeeq Umer and Imran Nazir.How many chances will they get to prove themselves and how many times they will let us down?

Ali Shah Sep 09, 2013 08:08pm

Hafeez really is a very ordinary batsman and nowhere near good enough to be a test opener

Shahid Sep 09, 2013 08:21pm

That is true if Hafeez, professor or not, cannot score runs he has to go and let someone else play and score. This game is for scoring runs and not for just showing. Thanks

Sarah Sep 09, 2013 09:16pm

Before dropping Hafeez ,we are forgetting about Khuraam Manjoor complete flop in first Test.Not sure how he was selected to Test squad.Total waste of No.1 spot.Hafeez medical fitness looks doubtful so replacement should be on for both No.1 & 2 spots.Don't know what to do with Shafiq he seems to have lost touch with batting completely and his place in future might go to Umar Akmal.Pakistan bowling with Ajmal and Rehman looks very exciting and enough to rip through any batting line up in world and not just Zimbabawe.England is leading example of such experience.

ahmed Sep 09, 2013 10:04pm

Apart from anything else, a sportsman needs to be physically fit. that's it..end of story.

Cricket is a team sport which means sitting yourself out and let the other guy on the bench who has proved himself to be in that position have a chance. If Hafeez is playing for self, maybe he should consider athletics.

Nasser Sep 09, 2013 10:16pm

Hafeez has NEVER been test material - simply not good enough! The figures speak for themselves. He should never even be considered, let alone selected for tests. In the inferior limited overs cricket, he is useful. Sep 09, 2013 10:32pm

hafeez is too good of a cricketer to be dropped.he is a genuine all rounder hebats bowls and an asset do not change winning ombination dr naeem tareen

Rana Sep 09, 2013 11:08pm

If I didn't do my job properly I would be sacked and no questions asked. Why so much leniency towards Hafeez?

Is he representing Pakistan? If so he should have the decency to step aside if not performing- no excuses.

ivehadit Sep 09, 2013 11:21pm

Even though our team seems to get the jitters a lot, it's still a match against Zimbabwe, not it's southern neighbour. Pakistan should experiment with new talent. They should be confident and Zimbabwe under pressure after the last game.

sami Sep 09, 2013 11:45pm

No offense but Hafeez is not a test cricket opener. He is an allrounder and should bat at lower middle order if Abdul Razaq is not available...

Where are all the fast bowlers? What's the name of new fastest bowler that was selected from all Pakistan bowling camp. Rahat Ali?

Malik Sep 10, 2013 12:27am

seems to me whole team is just playing to hold on to their place and try to do just enough to hang around in team. although Younis scored 200 (with 2 chances) none of the rest perform with heart to do something special for themselves and for country. Hafeez needs to sit out along with Khurram Manzoor for sure in 2nd test without any doubt, Instead Faisal Iqbal and Shan Masood should be given chance...

Aqil Siddiqi Sep 10, 2013 01:01am

@Rana: U think, Pakistani Batsmen will ever sit aside for others new comers to perform ???? Never.

Shoaib Sep 10, 2013 01:05am

Hafeez, Ha Ha Ha.Ha can never be dropped of any format of game. Despite of very poor and pathetic performance in regular intervals. He was selected as a batsman but he is being survived due to his bowling. If a company needs a Sales Person and an applicant says I can handle every department except of sales than is there any use of that person? Absolutely not. We need genuine batsmen instead of bowlers as we have immense talent of bowlers waiting for their turn while sitting on benches. This Professor should not be even existed in the premises of 100,000 kilometer radius of Pakistani team, neither Misbah who plays for himself too.Younus should be the captain of test squad and need some fresh legs in rest of the formates.The have destroyed Pakistani cricket. Please have a glance over Hafeez Batting average in all formats of games. Tests---- 33, 2023 Runs,Avg just 34 ODI;s--129, 3527 Runs, Avg just 28 T20-----47, 1093 runs, avg 24 with strike rate of 118 and most of the runs have been secured on subcontinental wickets against relatively weaker tems...........................?

Sarah Sep 10, 2013 01:07am

@Malik: I watched the whole innings of Younis scoring 200.Didn't notice 2 chances written on score board neither his age was written on the scoreboard.All was written 200 Not Out.So is this you people are creating from your own mind with 2 chances and ages? :) Funny but true.

Hyder Sep 10, 2013 01:38am

Mohamed Hafiz is prime example of extensive opportunities given to a mediocre batsman in test matches.

Pakistan will never produce a world class opening batsmen again unless the selectors stop short changing our cricket by continuously going for jack of all trade and master of none.

Umair Khalid Sep 10, 2013 01:42am

time to say good bye to the so called professor from test matches give enough chances to youngsters like Umar Amin, Haris Sohail and others and they will produce results for you, instead of trying the old horses again and again and again.......

Farrukh Amanullah Sep 10, 2013 03:02am

Why Anwar Ali is sitting on the benches? Rahat Ali who? Friend of Misbah? Yes in a third rated batting line up of the world Misbah is the leader. Injustice ki intiha hai

Tariq Hanif Sep 10, 2013 04:57am

Khurram Manzoor is playing after long time we need to give these guys some chances to prove them selves. Hafeez is playing consistently but not showing any improvement. He should be dropped from the test team. They shoud bring back Fawad Alam, he played only 3 tests and shows tremendous potential, his average is 40+ in those 3 tests and it was away from home, We should do justice to Fawad we should stop selecting players based on what language they speak or where they belongs to otherwise it is not that far when karachi will be fielding their side against Pakistan. Similarly Sarfaraz is a test wicket keeper, he should be played in test not in T20. kickout Adnan as he is not a good wicket keeper and fins a better wicket keeper for T20 who can do batting also with T20 temperament.

Shahid Sep 10, 2013 06:27am

It is not lack of bravery, its corruption which is ripe in cricket just as in every other walk of life in Pakistan. We the fans used to scream and shout but today's Pakistan has every one depressed and thinking about other horrible things that today, cricket doesn't mean so much to us as it meant some years ago, so we let it be. Selection of Faisal Iqbal (with an average of 24 in 50 international matches) and Imran Farhat instead of letting Haris Sohail and Umar Amin establish their claim in this comperatively easier series, isn't anything but just a product of corrupt selectors or those who make them do this.

AJ Sep 10, 2013 06:29am

Why Rahat Ali and not Irfan? Why Faisal Iqbal with average of 23 and not Umar Amin or Fawad Alam? Why not Taufiq Umar who has the best stats among all test opners?

Mr. Haq Sep 10, 2013 06:57am

I think Misbah would have dropped him if Hafeez was not captain of T20 team. Because of that, and in general in Pakistan, 2 captains can divide a team. So if Hafeez is dropped, he'll definitely make life hell for Misbah and he doesn't want that. So Hafeez will play even if he scores 0 in both innings. Hafeez is not a test player by any stretch of the imagination. But this is Pakistan. Who cares about talent or being in team based on skills. See Faisal Iqbal and Imran Farhat. None of them are test players.

Mr. Haq Sep 10, 2013 06:57am

@Malik: Please no Faisal Iqbal. Yes, Shan Masood, young and should be tried.

Mr. Haq Sep 10, 2013 06:59am Bhaijan, wake up and smell the coffee. Hafeez is not a test player. He has been playing test for 11 years now and hasn't done anything significant outside dead Asian pitches.

Mr. Haq Sep 10, 2013 07:01am

@Shahid: Showing up because you are liked or have supporters or you are T20 captain. No skills required. Welcome to Pakistan, the world of Nepotism.

Mr. Haq Sep 10, 2013 07:01am

@Ali Khan: Add Hafeez to your list as well.

Mr. Haq Sep 10, 2013 07:01am

@Yafis Barlas: Good one.

Mr. Haq Sep 10, 2013 07:03am

@Ali Khan: And don't forget Kamran Akmal. Another tried and tested waste of position in any of Pakistan's team. Catching is hard for him, his primary job behind the stumps.

Anees Sep 10, 2013 09:07am

He is NOT a Test player AT ALL. He never was. He would not like to face Steyn even in hotel or mall, let alone on a pitch.

SKhan Sep 10, 2013 09:13am


Agree with ommission of Hafeez but just after one match , you are prepared to discard Khurram Manzoor? That is how exactly we waste our future talent.

Our fans will never learn.

Que Sep 10, 2013 10:43am

Why is PCB waiting? Throw Hafeez out of test cricket team!!! Try out new talent in his place! Also, Hafeez should not be captain of T20 squad; Umer Akmal should be given that job! On the otherhand Afridi should be given the captain job in the ODI; instead of Tuk Tuk Misbah! Misbah should be just a regular guy in the ODI squad...

Zuhair Sep 10, 2013 10:49am

Agreed...time to drop Hafeez (at least down the order) as he is not a top order batsman, does not have the technique or temperament. Even in the limited overs formats he should bat down the order, something in the mold of Afridi. No way is he an opener or a top order batsman.

Effy Sep 10, 2013 01:49pm

No one in PCB is man enough to challenge Misbah and tell him to drop his friend Hafeez. This Pakistan team has become of Joke. It seems like its Misbahs private team and not a pakistani team. Even a successful captain Dhoni doesnt do it. But Misbah acts like he has won Pakistan all the major tournaments, while as the reality is Misbah is a super flop.

Sarah Sep 10, 2013 09:11pm

@Effy: How is he super flop? Pakistan team is No.4 Test Ranking team and No.2 in T20 ranking.Surely you don't follow stats of performance.Any team which is routing England 3-0 on any ground ,red salute to that team.

Ali Sep 11, 2013 09:19pm

@Anees: hahahaha...well said Anees

Zaid Sep 12, 2013 05:25am

@Ali Khan: Taufiq Umar has done well in his last several tests.