‘Super fit’ Shoaib Malik says he can play two more years

The 40-year-old said that he is not too bothered by critics who are gunning for his retirement

‘Super fit’ Shoaib Malik says he can play two more years PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan veteran cricketer Shoaib Malik has claimed that age is just a number and said that everyone has backed him to play more.

In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, the 40-year-old said that he is not too bothered by critics who are gunning for his retirement.

“Despite my age, no one can claim that I am a liability. I have performed at the highest level – especially in the T20 format –and I have shown my worth with the ball, with the bat, and especially in the field,” said Malik.

“I am thoroughly enjoying my cricket right now because I am utilising all my experience and intensity during the games,” he added.

Malik, who finished as the fourth-highest run-scorer in the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) season seven, said that being a middle-over batter he has to rely more on his fitness as opposed to openers.

“I am not claiming that opening is an easy task but in the middle overs, the field restriction is not there. That means you have to rely on running between the wickets a bit more; this is where your fitness truly comes in,” he said.

“You can always improve on fitness but I want to thank God Almighty because for me, it is something that is naturally instilled in me,” Malik further added.

Former captain of Pakistan, Malik has always been appreciated for being a “team player.” The 40-year-old played a helping hand in Babar Azam’s rise to success. Speaking about it, Malik said:

“We do talk on regular basis and we had the conversation about my future plans during the World Cup, I told him that after how everything panned out – I don’t feel like continuing anymore. However, if you ask me personally then of course I still want to represent my country,” Shoaib said.

“I asked Babar to communicate with me, even if that means playing limited series. He told me to play the series against Bangladesh and I did. Following that, we had a series against West Indies and Babar said he wanted to play a couple of youngsters and I stepped aside and rested for that series,” he explained.

Malik further added that he is on the same page with the all-format captain Babar and has asked him to keep him in the loop in regards to his services towards Pakistan cricket.

“I have asked Babar to tell me clearly even if my services are no longer required because clarity is the most important thing for every cricketer, especially for those who have served Pakistan cricket for as long as I have,” Malik added.

Shoaib admired Babar’s ability to handle these kinds of situations maturely and added that age doesn’t matter when it comes to leadership.

“These productive conversations are always welcomed as they define your culture. Youngsters learn from these things and players who have served Pakistan cricket should get their deserving send off,” he said.

Carrying on the conversation, Malik said that the players, management, and the board could have given Mohammad Hafeez a proper send off during the PSL as he retired recently.

“The PSL recently finished and we could have shown a gesture to honour his [Hafeez’s] services; a trophy or a souvenir would have sufficed. These gestures should be given because every cricketer longs for these moments,” Malik said.

Looking forward to the upcoming T20 World Cup, Malik said he can play for at least two additional years but does not want to force anyone’s hand.

“As I said, I have clear and open communication with Babar. I have not made up my mind about the World Cup because I want to retire with respect. If Babar asks me to play then I will play otherwise I will step aside respectfully,” Malik concluded.