Former Test pacer Mohammad Zahid has said that Pakistan can do well in the ICC T20 World Cup which will be held in Australia later this year. “Pakistan can do well in the T20 World Cup,” Zahid told ‘The News’ here in an interview. “We have a pace attack which can do wonders on a given day. Shaheen (Shah Afridi) leads the pace battery quite nicely. We have a balanced team. We have good batsmen, all-rounders and spinners as well,” he said.
“Irrespective of our team’s standing in Test and ODI we always have a solid chance in T20 cricket,” he was quick to add.
Zahid suggested that it will be a good step if after the T20 World Cup stumper Mohammad Rizwan is handed the captaincy of the T20 team which will relieve pressure on Babar Azam.
“Yes, Rizwan should be given the T20 team’s captaincy after the World Cup. It’s usually a part of the development programme of any team or country which will also help prepare another captain,” he said.
“When Rizwan becomes T20 team captain, he also will have his deputy who will be prepared for the future. I think it will be a very good step. It’s very important for Pakistan cricket. It will relieve the pressure on Babar and he will have more time to focus on ODI and Test captaincy. It will be a good step for Rizwan, for Babar and above all for Pakistan,” Zahid reiterated.
Zahid was not happy with the current domestic structure which he said has rendered many cricketers jobless. “I will oppose the current domestic structure as it has made a lot of cricketers jobless. We need to promote cricket and increase its quantity. We should now find out ways to accommodate the existing cricketers within the system. I am very happy that city cricket has been brought in which helps young players also get salaries which we did not get in our times. It’s a form of reform and is a good thing for cricket development,” said Zahid, who serves Sefton Park Cricket Club here in Liverpool as a coach.
He said only four-day cricket can develop cricketers in a real sense. “It needs almost five years to develop a player physically and mentally. You cannot make a player through PSL. You can develop a cricketer when he plays four-day cricket which tests your technique, temperament, concentration level and your fitness,” said Zahid, who had a few months stint with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as Lahore’s National High Performance Centre (NHPC) fast bowling coach in 2020-2021.
He said he is always ready to serve Pakistan. “It will be a great honour to work for the Pakistan team. It was my passion to play for Pakistan. I was handed over coaching responsibility at the National High Performance Centre in Lahore but unfortunately due to family circumstances I could not continue that. I will continue to work for Pakistan cricket’s betterment and whatever is possible I will do,” said Zahid, who is doing his level-III coaching course.
Zahid played five Tests, 11 ODIs and 43 first-class matches.
“Yes, back and knee injuries were severe,” Zahid said. “When I was making a comeback there was a bad environment in Pakistan cricket. All were thinking about themselves. The careers of some people were about to end and being in an influential position they were trying to prolong them. I quit because I thought that it was just a waste of time. I think it was a wrong decision. I should have stayed and fought but if there is a dirty game how will you get justice and I could not be dirty. It’s now past,” Zahid said.
He said that Pakistan’s cricket structure needed reform. “It’s a debatable thing. We must think about how the structure should be refined. It’s a slow process. You cannot do anything overnight,” he said.
“I don’t only talk about cricket but about overall Pakistan sports. We have huge talent in every sport but we lack structure. I congratulate Arshad Nadeem, who belongs to a remote area of Mian Channu, for breaking the Commonwealth Games record. I don’t agree that we don’t have runners, long-racers, swimmers and footballers. We have the type of body structure which could challenge the whole world but we don’t have proper infrastructure and system, which could help the athletes to develop,” Zahid said.
He said Pakistan still lacks proper grounds. “Good work is being done. Professional coaches have come, but we still lack proper grounds. We also need to promote the rest of sports. A lot of talent comes from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In its rural areas there are no facilities. Even Peshawar lacks proper facilities. They are hard-working and are physically superior,” Zahid said.
He is happy that city cricket has come under the umbrella of the PCB.
Zahid believes that Babar Azam has the ability to surpass Virat Kohli. “One cannot make a comparison like this. Virat has performed a lot. But I think Babar is more elegant. Babar is so fluent. I think he will break Virat’s records when he plays as many matches as Virat has played,” he said.
“Babar has a good eye, is fluent and has the ability to play the ball late. He is really quick on his feet,” he said.
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