Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan slammed the fitness levels of Pakistan's limited- overs squad but cautioned the team management against too many 'experiments' in the Twenty20 side with World Championship in India just four months away.
Khan, who was speaking to the media on Thursday amid reports of divisions within the Pakistan camp, clarified that all 'stake holders were on the same track' and team selections were not based on personal preferences of the captains.
“Please don’t believe the rumours. I have full faith in the selection committee and their decisions. We must focus on the real reasons for our defeats which are falling fitness levels of our players,” Khan told reporters outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Khan also stressed the need for 'mental alertness on the field' in a reference to several comical run-outs that the Pakistan batsmen were involved in during the England series.
Khan was quick in backing embattled T20 captain Shahid Afridi when asked about the inconsistencies in team selection and England's 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the recently concluded series.
“All decisions that a captain takes on and off the field are purely based on cricketing reasons and sometimes they do not come off. That is the nature of cricket. There is no grouping or any such thing in the team.”
“We cannot chop and change the team too much with the World T20 around the corner. The time for experiments is up.”
The PCB chief, however, admitted that there were concerns over the return of Mohammad Amir in the Pakistan team and the issue had created some division within the ranks.
“There are slight concerns over Amir's return to the side and as far as I know, the subject has been discussed in the dressing room. But we have told Amir that if and when he comes back, he will have to make sure there are no disciplinary issues.”
On Wednesday, Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis described defeat in the T20 series against England as a “huge eye opener” for his team whose “poor and ordinary” performance needed proper analysis.
Pakistan were blanked 3-0 by England who won the third and final game in Sharjah in a thrilling Super Over finish on Monday -- leaving Waqar to ponder his side's progress just months before the World Twenty20 in India.
Pakistan won the preceding three-Test series 2-0 but lost the four-match one-day 3-1 with the limited-overs performances highlighting the team's serious lack fitness.
Waqar pointed out fitness as the key problem in an interview on Wednesday and stressed on the same point in the Thursday press conference alongside Khan.
“I'm thoroughly disappointed at the nature of our defeats but in T20s one moment can change the course of the game. But where we were found wanting were our fitness levels.”
The former captain said the major reason for the Test team's success was its consistency and experience and called for patience with the ODI and T20 side.
Waqar also moved to rubbish reports of rifts between him and T20 captain Afridi.
“There is no truth to such claims.”
Key points of the Shaharyar-Waqar press conference
Time for experiments in the T20 side is up
Players must dramatically improve fitness levels
There are no divisions within the team
Mohammad Amir's return a bone of contention but the bowler is being considered for selection
Final decision on India series to be taken by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Bids for PSL teams successful
Patience needed with ODI and T20 sides
Fitness a major concern
We will need to experiment with new players before the World T20
Team comes first. It doesn't matter if the player is Shahid Afridi, Ahmed Shehzad or Umar Akmal, the team will be altered with the sole purpose of winning
Mohammad Amir has served his punishment and if he keeps performing, he will be considered for selection