SHARJAH: The Pakistan Super League (PSL) may be a huge success and produce several superstars but former captain Mohammad Hafeez has warned authorities to not let the tournament gloss over the fact that country’s domestic structure is in shambles.
Hafeez, who opens the batting for Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL, said there was a dire need to focus on club-level and First-class cricket if Pakistan are to solve their batting crisis.
“There are no two-ways about it. A tournament like PSL can help you unearth some talent which can function well under pressure, but if you want quality batsmen, you will need to fix the quality of domestic cricket,” Hafeez said in an interview.
Pakistan have experimented with more a dozen opening pairs in the last five years while Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have held things together. But with both players set to retire soon, Hafeez has warned that the team may face a crisis.
“We need to pay attention to club level cricket and First-Class cricket. Both of these types of cricket need to be developed into a highly competitive level of cricket if we are to produce these world beater and high quality batsmen.”
The ‘Professor’ said the solution to Pakistan’s batting problems may be as simple as changing the quality of balls being used on the domestic circuit.
“If we are even compromising on the quality of balls being used in domestic cricket then we cannot improve the quality of our domestic batsmen, nor can we produce quality fast-bowlers or spinners for that matter.”
“As we know, the talent that plays for us on the international level must emerge from domestic cricket and unless the skills of these players are within 40%-60% of what is needed at the international stage, then we will always struggle to find players of high quality.”
The PSL may be successful in addressing some of the issues but according to Hafeez, the league must shift to Pakistan to really have a trigger effect.
“In any venture, there is always room for improvement. The most important thing for me is for the PSL to be moved to Pakistan at the earliest. It will be very special for all of us to see our crowds flocking back to the stadiums to watch these games.”
Hafeez also called for an increase in the number of franchises in the league to ‘accommodate’ all the promising local players.
“It would be great if the PCB can consider increasing the number of teams by one or two then we can be assured of seeing even more Pakistani talent emerging from this tournament.”
Hafeez echoed Pakistan World T20 captain Shahid Afridi’s words, who was also disappointed at lack of local batting talent in the PSL.
“I was hoping to see some new batting talent emerge from this tournament,” Afridi says.
“We have found a couple of promising bowlers in the tournament and even they have been spinners. I’m all for giving more chances to players to a point where if I believe I’m holding up a place that a younger talent could use, I will gladly step aside.”
Afridi also issued a warning to Pakistan’s World T20 squad, announcing that they may be chopped from the team if they don’t perform at the Asia Cup T20 that precedes the world event.