KARACHI: Pakistan cricket team’s head coach Mickey Arthur has once again emphasised that a player will have to perform at optimum level to be a member of the national side. Arthur was talking to the media on the sidelines of the first day of Pakistan’s three-day training session ahead of the West Indies series on Thursday.

When asked whether he had dropped Mohammad Hafeez from his plans altogether, he said: “The doors are not closed for him at all. He knows it and I have had a chat with him about it. If Hafeez is bowling, he becomes a very good option for us. If he doesn’t bowl, it becomes a problem.

“We have often said that we are not going to pick players who just do one discipline. We want players who do all disciplines and fielding is not negotiable now. If you can’t field well, you cannot play for Pakistan anymore.”

Hafeez, however, will remain part of the thought process for the one-day side, he added. With the first of the three-match series between Pakistan and West Indies kicking-off here at the NSK on Sunday, the visitors are yet to announce their squad.

According to media reports, West Indian star players Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, and Marlon Samuels may opt out of the tour.

“I expect a cracker of a series,” Arthur said. “People are saying that some of the big names are not here. But at the end of the day, West Indies are a very proud cricketing nation. The players that they send here have absolutely nothing to lose. They are looking to forge their careers and are going to be very dangerous. And we will have to play exceptionally well. I think this is going to be a great series.” Pakistan added four uncapped players - Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Shaheen Shinwari, and Rahat Ali - in their 15-member line-up for the series to be played on three consecutive days.

Commenting on their first day in the T20I side’s training camp, he said: “We are very excited to see some new young faces. Seeing them go about their business have been very exciting. They bring fresh energy to the side and we are very, very happy where we are at the moment.” Arthur, however, expressed his concerns about the Pakistan Super League (PSL) being unable to produce quality batsmen. Out of the four players selected for the series, only one of them is a specialist batsman.

“My concern with the PSL has been that only our bowling stocks have been getting better and better because of it. We are not finding many young batsmen, which is certainly an issue for me … We haven’t seen a young stand out batsman coming through the ranks, like we have seen in terms of our spin and quick bowling stocks.”“If we are able to get 150, I’ve always said that we would be able to defend it. So, bowling is our strong point.”

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2018

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