KARACHI: Senior Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq vowed on Wednesday to improve his Test figures while admitting series of circumstances has been the reason of a middling career record.
Speaking to reporters here in Karachi via video link, the soft-spoken Asad was honest in saying that despite playing international cricket for almost 10 years, he has underachieved at the highest level.
“I think it is a fair assessment to say that [my] track record at the Test match level should have been much better than what it is at present. The goals and plans which I had preset for myself at the start [of career] have definitely gone the way I would have wanted. Something that I had stated on and off,” the 34-year-old Asad admitted in a frank tone.
“As an individual the targets were not executed because of the circumstances that I had to go through. Back in mind I know that I’ve underachieved down the line, given the capability and level of potential I had in the early phase of [my] international career.”
Since November 2010 — when he made debut against South Africa at Abu Dhabi — Asad has accumulated 4593 runs from 74 Tests at 39.25 with 12 centuries and 27 half-centuries. Twice he scored 137 — against New Zealand at Sharjah in 2014 and versus Australia at Brisbane in 2016 — his best score in the highest form.
“Every player knows what can be achieved or otherwise. I’ll be the first one to point out that as an individual I’ve not been able to execute the plans to my liking. Perhaps the circumstances were beyond if people judge by my skills level and the potential. But if I make maximum use of the qualities I’m sure I can reach the level to everyone’s satisfaction.
“Further I don’t like making excuses for not being able to reach optimum as an international cricketer but having said that I know what can achieve. I’m trying hard to be rated among the top lot and Insha’Allah I’ll achieve those goals because that remains a burning desire.”
Asad negated the general feeling that he is hampered by mental block as a key factor of him being an inconsistent performer.
“No, no. that is totally incorrect assessment because there is no issue of me troubled by mental block or something of that nature. In fact on the contrary the past two years had been a big learning curve for me,” Asad stated. “People have every right to form an opinion about any person. But I’ll try to explain the reasons of not getting maximum benefits as a Test batsman.
“Chiefly, I have batted most of my career at No.6 [Asad scored 3011 runs in 48 Tests at 41.81 at this number] in present of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq [two individuals who were role models for a number of Pakistan players, and not just me] and that that is one glaring example of ‘underachieving’ in Test cricket.
“Playing alongside Younis and Misbah was in a different scenario to what now we are facing since they retired in 2017. I’m sure these sorts of things would play a part in helping me become a better player.”
Commenting on the prevailing situation and the fitness tests conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to ascertain the fitness levels of Pakistan players in the wake of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Asad observed it has been tough confined to homes by the lockdown.
“As everyone is aware that the entire world is feeling the brunt of coronavirus [Covid-19] pandemic and we should stay safe in the home environment as much as we can. The scenario the world is facing at the moment is very, very tough and everything is at virtual standstill,” Asad said. “The onus is on us to follow the guidelines and take maximum safety precautions.
“Sports also have suffered the repercussions with scores of major events such as Olympics, club football, tennis and athletics etc have either been postponed or cancelled. Therefore, it is imperative that we must maintain the [high] levels of fitness as professional sportsmen.
“The PCB has given each of us fitness schedules sometime ago to follow in order to remain in the best possible shape. Over the past couple of days we went through the online fitness tests conducted by Pakistan team trainer Yasir [Malik].
“These tests are different to routine [fitness] tests we follow but the prevailing situation compelled the PCB to redesign the methods. The concept adopted is a good step because whenever this pandemic is over, we won’t get extra time to work extensively on our fitness.
Asad expressed his satisfaction over the revamped domestic 2019-20 season and the experience of playing under the new structure was extremely useful. “Playing with the Kookaburra balls under the new setup was pretty exciting. The level of play was competitive because all six teams were strong and it was hard to pinpoint the weak links among each of the squads.
“And although I was unable to play the entire season of Quaid-i-Azam Trophy due to Pakistan team commitments, I had fair idea in the early weeks of the competition that the cricket that was being staged was of very high standard. Moreover the quality of pitches was better compared to previous season.
“Overall speaking, it was a decent experience from the players’ perspective because of international cricket returning to Pakistan at long last because our generation had not play Test cricket on home soil until last December.
It was really very exciting for us to be playing in front of our own fans in familiar territory. It was dream come true to play a Test in Pakistan, not just for me but rest of the guys as well. The crowds were amazing and that was one key element which we missed for all these years,” Asad concluded.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2020