Team director Hafeez says Pakistan to adopt modern-day cricket as new ‘mantra’

Published November 29, 2023
PAKISTAN team director Mohammad Hafeez gestures during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.—M. Arif/White Star
PAKISTAN team director Mohammad Hafeez gestures during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.—M. Arif/White Star

LAHORE: Pakistan’s newly-appointed team director Mohammad Hafeez has said the team’s “mantra” under him will be to play modern-day cricket and that he expects the players to demonstrate it in the upcoming three-match Test series against Australia.

Hafeez took charge of the post after Mickey Arthur’s removal from it following Pakistan’s failure to qualify for the semi-final of the recently-concluded World Cup in India. The former captain is aiming to bring a host of changes, ranging from style of play and selection eligibility, using what seems like complete authority which is given to him to run the national side’s management.

Pakistan are set to take on Australia in the first Test in Perth from December 14, before clashes in Melbourne and Sydney and Hafeez expects from players a team-centric approach.

“We have to play modern-day cricket and by following it then results will come in a better way for us,” Hafeez said during Pakistan’s pre-departure press conference here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.

“I want the Pakistani players to use maximum skill for the team. This is my goal. I am not here for a job but to give service to the Pakistan team, just to trying to bring improvement.

“But I cannot do anything alone and for it I want good support from all including the media.”

Hafeez admitted it would take time for the players to get a hold of the philosophy he was trying to inculcate, but stressed it was more about the intent and the drive to dominate during games.

“Modern day cricket demands impactful performances,” he noted. “You have to remain ahead of the game and play aggressive game, which we have to adopt. “I believe we need to step out of our comfort zone and show intent towards playing modern-day cricket.

“It can help you to beat other teams with more impactful performances. It is a simple mantra which we need to adopt. To achieve the goal the team is looking forward to and you will see modern-day cricket of Pakistan team in Australia as the first step.”

The Hafeez-led Pakistan team management conducted a six-day preparatory camp with the team ahead of the tour, the last day of which was held here. According to the ex batter, Pakistan worked in the camp keeping in mind the potential challenges they could face in Australia.

“It is a really exciting opportunity for everyone to perform in the challenging conditions (in Australia) and we have to perform,” said Hafeez. “I want us to be challenged and we have to perform under different conditions.

“It is a challenging tour but exciting as there is nothing to lose but it is an opportunity to gain a lot and you will see better results for the Pakistan team.”

Hafeez said his role as the team director was to make the team’s strategy while the support staff and players had the duty to execute it. But he added that he would take full responsibility in case of team’s failure. “The credit of winning”, he went on to say, “would belong to the players”.

Hafeez’s appointment was part of the post-World Cup revamp of the national team setup, which also saw former pacer Wahab Riaz brought in as the chief selector and more important Shan Masood given the Test captaincy duties after Babar Azam’s resignation as the all-format skipper.

Asked if the lack of experience of the trio in their respective new roles would put them at a disadvantage against Australia, Hafeez said: “I am not considering inexperience as a factor to be addressed and I don’t recognize it. You have to be a professional. The entire coaching staff, chief selector and captain are picked with a good intent and they all are those youngsters, who had done well for the Pakistan team in the recent past.”

Hafeez was of the opinion that Babar being relieved from captaincy will help him bat with more freedom and hence give Pakistan an edge as their main batter.

“Babar’s services for the Pakistan team are praiseworthy and I personally I accept it,” Hafeez observed. “Babar did not lack behind in giving his best for the Pakistan team. He had a great role in making strategy. As a batsman Babar is a world class player and after losing captaincy Babar will feel less pressure and his performance as batter will improve.”

Hafeez said he reached out to Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim and Mohamamd Amir to ask for their availability to play for Pakistan. He went on to reveal that Haris and Imad first asked for a couple of days to make up their mind and later they refused.

Similarly he said he also asked Amir to withdraw his retirement from international cricket and play domestic cricket if he wished to play for Pakistan again.

“Haris was not ready to play red-ball cricket and Imad was also not ready for the T20 series against New Zealand,” Hafeez said. “Amir had the mind that he wanted to play T20 leagues only.”

Hafeez said the PCB would announce a new policy for the NOC for T20 leagues, adding that every player, who was on the central contract, was bound to give first priority to Pakistan instead of league cricket.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023

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