MCG demands fitness and precision from pacers: Sarfraz

By Abdul Mohi Shah
December 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Melbourne hero and the only Pakistan fast bowler who has taken 50 Test wickets in Australia, Sarfraz Nawaz, has urged the pacers to try to make the best use of the new ball to earn wickets.


Talking to The News ahead of the Boxing Day Test, Sarfraz, who earned the famous win by picking up seven wickets for just one run in a spell that still is remembered at Melbourne, said teasing line and length backed by immaculate fitness holds the key in Australia.

Australia's Usman Khawaja (R) plays a shot as Pakistan's Agha Salman looks on on day four of the first Test cricket match between Australia and Pakistan in Perth on December 17, 2023. — AFP

“For pacers, it is all about how you bowl with the new ball. Speed and fitness hold the key. Keeping immaculate line and length, especially with the new ball, is very important.”

Sarfraz, who picked 9 for 86 in Australia’s second innings to give a Pakistan 71-run win in 1979 at Melbourne, said that it was a must for the fast bowlers to keep their fitness intact throughout the Test match.

“Use good length bowling strategy with the new ball and when it gets old try to introduce yorkers backed by the use of reverse swing. That is the proper strategy while bowling in Australia. But to achieve that, bowlers have to stay fresh throughout the five days of the Test match.”

Sarfraz said he was taken by surprise when someone shared stats. “It was nothing less than a surprise to see that I am the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in Australia. I am the only bowler who has taken 50 wickets for the country in Australia. Whenever I bowled in Australia, my effort was to make the batsmen play the new ball and try to use reverse swing when bowling with the old ball.”

Sarfraz was also worried about Pakistan’s spin bowling options. “We don’t have a match winner when it comes to spin bowling so all the pressure comes back on the pacers as they are the ones who can win the Test for the country.

Pakistan will have to play extraordinary cricket to beat Australia in Melbourne. Though it is not impossible, yet it is too difficult for Pakistan to beat Australia in Melbourne. Every member of the team will have to play extraordinary cricket to beat Australia to square the series.”

The former fast bowler called on the Pakistani batsmen to play fearless cricket. “There is no point in being defensive, rather try to make the best of opportunities coming your way. Once you land at the wicket, try not to chase the ball at an early stage.

After settling down you can attack the bowler. The right approach at Melbourne for batsmen is not to miss run-scoring chances but for that, you have to settle your eye first. It is easier to get out at the early stages of the innings. Once you get accustomed to the pace and bounce of the wicket, going gets easier for the batsman.”