Thursday July 18, 2024

'Parachute selection' should be discouraged in national team: Hafeez

Former team director opines national squad should comprise players picked up on basis of domestic performance

By Arfa Feroz Zake
April 26, 2024
Former Pakistan skipper and team director Mohammad Hafeez in this undated photo. — PCB/File
Former Pakistan skipper and team director Mohammad Hafeez in this undated photo. — PCB/File

RAWALPINDI: Pointing out Mohammad Amir, Imad Wasim, and Usman Khan's inclusion in the national team, former Pakistan all-rounder and team director Mohammad Hafeez termed it a 'parachute selection' made by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which should be discouraged.

Hafeez while talking exclusively with Geo News, has shed his views regarding the recent selection process, reliance on the Babar-Rizwan duo, issue of NOCs to players for playing leagues, and his analysis of Green Shirts’ strength ahead of the T20 World Cup.

Former Pakistan skipper and team director Mohammad Hafeez speaks exclusively to Geo News in this still taken from a video. — Screen Grab/Geo News
Former Pakistan skipper and team director Mohammad Hafeez speaks exclusively to Geo News in this still taken from a video. — Screen Grab/Geo News

He said, "Amir, Imad, and Usman are talented players but there is a systematic process to be followed for selection. These players should have played domestic cricket and upon performance must have been picked for the Pakistan cricket team. Such parachute selection does not send a good message to the domestic players."

Hafeez was criticised for not being a high-level qualified coach during his tenure as a director of the Pakistan men’s cricket team.

Responding to the criticism regarding his coaching skills, he said "The process of removing me as director of cricket team was unfortunate. I am a qualified level-one coach. Coaching courses are an education but not complete eligibility to become a coach. We cannot ignore the experience of international cricket."

Recently former chairman PCB Najam Sethi claimed local coaches make decisions on personal relations. "I'm really disappointed with the statement of the former PCB chairman because such a statement has disappointed many former players. Pakistan has got legends of cricket which is admired by the rest of the world."

He added, "This is a slavish mindset of PCB that only a foreign coach should be appointed. I have never seen any local coach promoting nepotism or personal recommendations."

The T20 opening duo of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan was broken in the tenure of Hafeez as team director.

"Babar and Rizwan are great players but do not represent the whole Pakistan team. Babar and Rizwan cannot take the whole responsibility of the team upon their shoulders. I felt Saim Ayub as an opener was a solution for us. Why current team management has retained Saim as an opener if I was wrong?"

Elaborating his opinions regarding the batting order, "Babar has been batting at number three for last seven to eight years. There will be nothing new for Babar to bat at number three in T20. Rizwan and Saim as openers followed by Babar and Fakhar at three will make a strong top order for Pakistan."

Hafeez further said "Babar is a strong batter who knows how to bat in different conditions. Saim must play as an opener in T20 WorldCup 2024 despite early failures."

Hafeez sheds light on the importance of the strike rate, "Cricket has changed now. You can compromise on consistency but performance must be impactful. Other cricket teams don't rely on single players. You can see their different players giving performance in different matches."

Hafeez disagreed the comparison made between Babar and Virat Kohli. "There is simply no comparison between these players. Kohli has given great services and performances for India whereas Babar is doing well."

He further added "Babar is a fantastic player and can bring improvements in his game. This is a wrong perception that Babar has to perform everything. However, Babar has to adapt the skills required to play modern day cricket. Babar is learning quickly and has understood areas of improvement. He played with intent in the last PSL which are good sign."

A controversy fired up regarding the NOC for leagues during a recent tour to New Zealand. The players were rumoured to be unhappy with the decision of PCB regarding the NOC.

Hafeez said "I was wrongly pushed in the matter of the NOC for leagues. I had no link with such a matter because this was a three-year contract made between PCB and the players which allowed them to play two leagues in a year other than PSL. According to me, contracts made with the players must be acknowledged. However, a player must always prioritise playing for his country."

Hafeez is optimistic about the chances of Pakistan’s victory in the upcoming T20 World Cup. "Pakistan has full potential to win T20 World Cup. They only need confidence. The changes in the top hierarchy of PCB do affect the Pakistan cricket team."

Hafeez supports Indo-Pak cricket and wants India to visit Pakistan for the Champions Trophy 2025. "I will be very happy to see India visiting Pakistan for the Champions Trophy because this is more than just a game for Indo-Pak fans. The eyeballs of the world follow Indo-Pak cricket. Politics must be kept away. India and Pakistan must play each other across all three formats. Both the teams should play at neutral venue incase unable to visit each other's countries."