Sarfaraz will be first choice wicketkeeper in T20Is on England tour: Latif

Former captain was named in the 29-member squad announced for the upcoming tour

Sarfaraz will be first choice wicketkeeper in T20Is on England tour: Latif PHOTO: AFP

Cricketer-turned-analyst Rashid Latif believes former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed will be Pakistan’s preferred option as wicketkeeper for the Twenty20 International (T20I) series on the England tour.

Sarfaraz was named in the 29-member squad announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the upcoming tour of England. Pakistan is scheduled to take on the home side in three Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), which will be played in August-September.

While talking to Cricket Pakistan in an exclusive interview, Latif said that wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan will continue to be Pakistan’s first choice behind the wickets in Test cricket.

"Sarfaraz will be Pakistan’s first choice wicketkeeper in T20Is and second choice in Tests. Rizwan’s performances in Test matches have been really good so far. So I don’t think Sarfaraz will be preferred over Rizwan in Test cricket. The reason for taking Sarfaraz along is because they had to pick a bigger squad as the team will be in quarantine initially due to the pandemic," said Latif.

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"It will be a difficult challenge for Sarfaraz to sit on the bench after leading Pakistan for three to four years and winning titles like Champions Trophy for the country. However, it is not impossible and I expect him to fight and overcome this tough task," he added.

Former cricketer feels the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) could have better managed Sarfaraz’s comeback considering his stature in Pakistan cricket.

"Sarfaraz could have gone a little late as well. He could have travelled during the middle of the Test series. Maybe PCB was not able to plan it properly. Since there is a chartered flight being sent by ECB, the board thought of sending everyone together. Sarfaraz didn’t have to go together as he is a very big name of Pakistan cricket as a captain and leader," he said.

The 51-year-old is pleased with the appointment of Younis Khan as batting coach for the England tour and believes his partnership with Pakistan’s chief selector-cum-head coach, Misbah ul Haq, could prove to be fruitful for Pakistan.

"PCB should make use of Younis Khan’s experience for a long period and not just the England tour. He wants to transfer his experience to youngsters and guide them," he said. "Misbah is very flexible in his approach and keeps an open mind. Misbah and Younis go a long way back. If their partnership as coach is similar to their partnership as players, it will be very beneficial for Pakistan."

Latif considers England tour to be a tough challenge for the Men in Green as they will not get the chance to play in London this time around.

"We don’t have matches where Pakistan has done well in the past. Our performances have been better at Lord’s and the Oval in London. It will be a tough tour for Pakistan. In 2016, they had Misbah and Younis which helped them in drawing the series. But this time around, it will be tough," he said.

Latif isn’t too impressed with PCB chairman Ehsan Mani and has a word of advise for the board’s Chief Executive Wasim Khan.

"I am not interested if Ehsan Mani heads Asian Cricket Council or International Cricket Council. He hasn’t made any difference in PCB so far. You don’t make a difference by just wearing a tie. You make a difference by actually working," he said.

"Wasim Khan has energy but he is very reactive. He needs to be calmer in his approach. He is trying to work for cricket but he reacts very quickly to media. I advise him to interact with media that criticises him instead of shunning them," he added.