Hafeez critical over no focus on sports in Khan's tenure as PM

The 41-year-old termed it a big question mark that under 'Sportsman' Prime Minister Imran Khan, no road map has been designed for athletes yet

Hafeez critical over no focus on sports in Khan's tenure as PM PHOTO: AFP

Former Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez is not happy with Imran Khan's government over no clear sports policy for athletes across the country.

In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan post-retirement, the 41-year-old termed it a big question mark that under 'Sportsman' Prime Minister Imran Khan, no road map has been designed for athletes yet.

"Personally, I am disappointed with the current government," Hafeez said.

"No infrastructure has been set where sportsperson in our country can excel. This is a huge setback for me. I know our Prime Minister is a sportsman and if there is no focus on sports in his tenure, then this is a huge question mark," Hafeez added.

Hafeez also shed light on Khan's decision to shut down departmental cricket and hailed his colleagues, Misbahul Haq and Azhar Ali for raising the matter with them.

"I am proud of them. They took a big step and sincerely raised concern for others. Pakistan is not yet a welfare state and departments were catering to many players, they were fulfilling financial needs. No alternative has not been found yet too."

Meanwhile, Hafeez urged Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) not to call back players from franchise leagues as they receive huge contracts and calling them back damage their reputation. 

"Calling back players from leagues put a dent on player's portfolio. Recently, Pakistan players were called back from BBL, I want PCB to revisit this process. When players get NOC, they must play completely as his and Pakistan's reputation is at stake." Hafeez emphasized as he has been called back from leagues midway on many occasions in the recent past.

There have been reports of various rifts between Hafeez and higher PCB officials but the 41-year-old said they were unhappy with his stances which led to these impressions.

"There was no rift with anyone but yes, I had some principle stances on which I don't compromise. I stood tall against the things and raised my voice. People were unhappy with it and they took some decisions which were felt that my relationships were not on good terms with higher authorities," he added.

Hafeez called his retirement recently and revealed that he was thinking of announcing it after the 2020 T20 World Cup but the competition moved to 2021, therefore, he further pushed himself to play.

"I wanted to end my career on my own and with legacy, pride, satisfaction. 2020 World Cup moved to next year and I aimed to become part of the world cup winning squad but unfortunately, it didn't happen," Hafeez added.

Hafeez's last match in Pakistan colours was the World Cup semi-final clash against Australia. The Men in Green lost a closed match by five wickets.

"I had decided after semifinal lost and opted not to be part of the team in Bangladesh where I told selectors to select youngster," he added.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam is currently considered one of the top batters in world cricket, but Hafeez thinks he still needs to achieve more and learn many things as captain.

"He is still far behind in achieving many things for himself. If he can push himself more, viewing talent and fitness, he can be proved as a different kind of batter ever played for Pakistan."

Hafeez will happily serve Pakistan cricket in future in any capacity but won't run after money as a job seeker in the cricket board.

I will surely serve Pakistan in future and would like to add value to our cricket but I am not a job seeker, therefore, I won't be doing it for money and run behind it.

Professor concluded by hailing Shaheen Shah's growth as a pacer and is looking forward to playing under him at Lahore Qalandars in HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) season seven.