No player’s career is over: Sarfraz Ahmed

Pakistan captain reassures veterans they can still be selected for the team in the future

No player’s career is over: Sarfraz Ahmed PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan cricket team captain Sarfraz Ahmed has brushed aside criticism he received from veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal and opening batsman Salman Butt over their non-selection in the team.

Akmal has been sidelined after the emergence of Sarfraz as the Men in Green’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman, whereas Butt is yet to represent the Green Caps after finishing his ban in the spot-fixing scandal.

Akmal and Butt are not the only players who were left disappointed after being overlooked by the team management, as veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has already wrote a letter to newly-elected Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani and registered his protest after being dropped for the Asia Cup.

Both Akmal and Butt accused Sarfraz along with Mickey Arthur in the media for playing role in their non-selection, but the Quetta Gladiators captain believes the decision for the team selection is taken collectively.

“I don’t think it is right to point one or two individual for the non-selection of any player as the decision is taken collectively,” said Sarfraz while talking to the media in Lahore on Tuesday. “We know that they’ve been performing really well in the domestic cricket as well as in the PSL, but they should not lose hope. We never decide which players’ career is over. There is a lot of cricket to be played in the next few months till the World Cup and whenever we feel like they can add value to the team, they will be called into the squad.”

The Men in Green will play their first match in the 14-day long tournament against Hong Kong on September 15, whereas the match against arch-rivals India will be played three days later.

Weather in the UAE will be one of the toughest challenge during the competition, and Sarfraz believes team’s bowling at night will have the advantage.

“We are playing the tournament in extremely hot conditions which will be very tough for any team,” he said. “Therefore, I believe teams will be willing to bat first after winning the toss so they can field in better atmosphere at night. Also, at night time, with all the humidity around, the conditions become favourable to pacers as well, so it makes even more sense that teams will prefer to bat first.”

Keeping such stiff weather conditions in perspective, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has allowed teams to select a 16-member squad instead of 15-member contingent, but even then, Pakistan will go into the competition with only one full-time wicketkeeper in captain Sarfraz.

When asked if the move can backfire during the event, Sarfraz said: “We have a lot of wicketkeepers who are grooming at the academy and during A team tours as well. Mohammad Rizwan will be with the A team for two months in the UAE as they will be facing New Zealand A and England Lions. So if there will be any injury and there is a need for reinforcement, we can add any player from the A team at any time.”