HYDERABAD: Former Pakistani pacer Mohammad Asif is contemplating writing a letter to International Cricket Council (ICC) to find out if the world cricket governing body has instructed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) not to select him in the national team.
“Some information to this effect recently reached me that the PCB has been asked by the ICC not to consider me for the national team selection,” Asif told Dawn while representing Wapda in the Super Eight match of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy against Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) being played at the Niaz Stadium on Saturday. “I don’t know how authentic is the info. On my part, I am playing regularly in the [domestic] season. So I definitely intend to ask the ICC if they have any reservations about me,” he remarked.
Asif said he is quite satisfied with hisfitness. Commenting about the pace he is bowling at, Asif in a lighter vein said, “Others are not bowling from a canon….I at least bowl like them too.”
“It is fine if PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan has left it to the selectors to decide when to induct Salman Butt and me, but the selectors have to be fair and should pick those who have been performing well,” argued the lanky pacer. “We should have been invited to the camp to show our performance but we were ignored,” he complained.
Commenting on the current pace attack of the Pakistan team, Asif said he is not very impressed. “We talk about talent…but this is all the talent that we have. I don’t think there is anything special about our pacers. It is an average sort of attack,” he said candidly. “To develop something special, you must work hard. And of course some have abilities which are God-gifted. I’ve played a full season now but I didn’t see anything special be it Rahat [Ali] or Imran Khan or Sohail Khan.”
Asif — who has captured 15 wickets in three matches so far, is playing his fourth match here. He, however, expressed disappointment at the slow pitches being prepared in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for Pakistan Tests. “We get wickets in the UAE that favour our spinners. Yes we have won matches there and that has improved our rankings, but the truth is that playing constantly on the UAE pitches have deteriorated the standard of our cricket.”
He observed Pakistan should shift ‘home’ venue to South Africa or Sri Lanka where the pitches are better and conditions more competitive. “Even Sri Lanka has better pitches compared to UAE,” he remarked.
Asif lamented the way Pakistan batting was exposed in the recent New Zealand Test series. “A little more bounce and swing made batting a different ball game for our players there,” he said. “These things must be noted by the experts and the coaches as well as the PCB.”
“We could face a similar situation in Australia as well though pitches there will be relatively better,” he said. “Our pacers bowled short of length in New Zealand which was a wrong strategy. An out-of-form Ross Taylor managed to score a hundred as he was bowled loose deliveries by our pacers and he was allowed to cut and pull at will. None of our pacemen could force him to drive straight which is his weak area.”
He called for grooming youngsters at the academies including NCA for better results. “You see New Zealand has come up with a fine team in a population of three million. We are 200 million but our batting survives in Dubai alone where there is low bounce which can easily be negotiated”, he observed.
“I didn’t play cricket for five years but the PCB could not groom my replacement. They had to turn to Amir who is performing somewhat better though he didn’t get too many wickets in the recent matches. The reason is that he didn’t get good support from the other end. Fast bowlers often hunt in pairs but that is not happening today,” he said.