Wahab addressed Rauf’s omission in a press conference, shedding light on pacer’s decision to withdraw from the tour at last minute due to concerns over workload management
Chief Selector Wahab Riaz unveiled the 18-member Pakistan Test squad for the upcoming tour to Australia, marking his first assignment since assuming the role of the head of the national men’s selection committee last week. The three-match series is scheduled to take place from December 14, 2023, to January 7, 2024.
However, the squad has raised eyebrows as it does not feature the pacer Haris Rauf.
Wahab addressed this omission in a press conference, shedding light on Rauf's decision to withdraw from the tour due to concerns over workload management.
"We spoke to Haris Rauf about this tour two days ago, and he gave his consent to playing Tests for Pakistan. However, he changed his mind last night and didn't want to be a part of this Australia Test series,” Riaz said.
“He was worried about fitness issues and workload. We gave him assurances that we will facilitate him and accept any potential failures. Our physio said he has no injury concerns. He is fatigued, but we could have managed him well. However, he pulled out and is unavailable for this tour. I think this could hurt Pakistan cricket,” he added.
However, according to a report by ESPNCricinfo, Rauf has a different perspective on his exchange with Wahab. A source close to the player told the publication that Rauf had never committed to participating in the Test matches in Australia in the first place. Hence, there was no question of pulling out of the tour last minute. He explained to Wahab that he hadn't been involved in much red-ball cricket in the lead-up and expressed his desire to focus on improving his white-ball skills and overall fitness.
The report further added that there is uncertainty about the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) issuing a No-Objection Certificate for him to play in the Big Bash League (BBL). This uncertainty arises from the strained relations between the chief selector and Rauf.
The conflict between the player and the selector sets a confusing situation as the Big Bash League approaches. Rauf, considered a marquee player for the Melbourne Stars, can face potential hurdles in obtaining the necessary clearance to participate in the league.
The BBL is scheduled to start on December 13 and run until February 4, overlapping with all three Tests in Australia, which would have affected Rauf's availability had he been part of the Pakistan squad.