Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) yesterday decided to recall and add Mohd. Hafeez a.k.a. “Professor” in the squad that will meet Australia for two Tests in UAE during the ongoing month. So, here is a look at 3 questions that arise following professor’s late inclusion and hence, his Test comeback.
Why After 2 Years?
Hafeez’s inclusion means that he is likely to be part of the playing eleven. The decision it is understood has been influenced by multiple factors. Some of these include top order’s failure in England and during Asia Cup; Australia’s decent performance in the warm-up game; a lack of trust on Bilal Asif and other part timers and because Pakistan perhaps is looking forward to attacking Aussie left-handers with an off-spinner.
It is also worth mentioning here that Hafeez has struggled at the Test level in conditions that offer pace and bounce but conditions in UAE are likely to support his batting and bowling styles. Additionally, since he has just shown form and scored a double century at the domestic level; ignoring him was no longer an option.
End of Mickey Arthur’s Hegemony?
So, if really Hafeez was the right man to do the job then why wasn’t he selected ahead of Bilal Asif in the original 17 member squad? Perhaps, because apparently, he no longer enjoys a healthy working relationship with head coach, Mickey Arthur. During Sheharyar Khan and Najam Sethi’s tenures Mickey for most part has called the shots and there is no doubt that he has been a dominant figure in Pakistan’s dressing room.
However, professor’s late comeback certainly seems to be a decision coming from either the chief selector or the captain. There is no doubt that both Inzamam-ul-Haq and Safaraz Ahmed are under pressure to keep their place and therefore, victory against Australia is important and it matters little if they have to patch up with a senior player for the cause.
Thus, apparently change in PCB’s hierarchy and the Asia Cup debacle have resulted in bringing an end (at least for now) to Mickey Arthur’s hegemony.
A Step Backwards?
Recalling the 37 year old all-rounder and that too after two years goes onto show that Pakistan has not been able to find his replacement in Asian conditions yet. Some will then argue that it is a step backwards while others would debate that there is no reason why you shouldn’t select a player on the basis of his age; particularly, if he can be of good use in the middle.
Nevertheless, there is no denying the fact that even if “Professor” succeeds against Australia and New Zealand in UAE conditions his real Test will come in South Africa where Pakistan play later in the season.