Forming two national teams will help improve bench strength, says Afridi

Published January 1, 2023
Interim head of the PCB selection committee, Shahid Afridi, speaks to media in Karachi on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
Interim head of the PCB selection committee, Shahid Afridi, speaks to media in Karachi on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

KARACHI: Shahid Afridi is looking at improving Pakistan’s bench strength by forming two separate squads but he doesn’t plan on staying too long in his role as the interim head of the national team’s selection committee.

“I want to create two teams for Pakistan before my tenure ends in order to improve the bench strength,” Afridi told reporters here at the National Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s been the case that players tend to stay in their comfort zone knowing they don’t have a backup, and therefore, we are working on this aspect to ensure there is always a ready-made replacement for any player.”

But Afridi, who was handed the role after the management committee led by Najam Sethi took over the PCB earlier this month, is running short of time in being able to do that. The initial tenure of the selection committee ends with the culmination of New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan. The second Test, starting on Monday, and three One-day Internationals remain.

“It will be a bit difficult for me to continue with this new responsibility [post-New Zealand series] as the activities of my charitable foundation require my personal involvement,” said the former Pakistan captain.

“We are here for this particular series and we want to do justice with our job,” added Afridi, who has former Pakistan cricketers Abdur Razzaq and Rao Iftikhar Anjum as members on his committee.

Afridi said that a communication gap that existed between players and the selection com­mittee has hindered Pakistan cricket.

“The chief selector should be in direct contact with individual players to be aware of their positions properly,” he said.

Informing about the late call-ups for Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail to the probables’ list for the New Zealand ODIs, he said that he got a real picture about their fitness once he spoke to them. “That’s why I invited them for a fitness test,” he added.

Afridi hinted that the pitch for the second Test would be better than the one for the opening game, which ended in a draw.

“We are deliberating upon preparing a pitch that may help bowlers and batsman alike,” he said. “We cannot become a top team by playing on these wickets. The wickets on which we’ve been playing are injurious for our bowlers.”

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2023

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