Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has said that he wants to serve Pakistan cricket with respect in the remaining years of his career.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, the 38-year-old said his first priority is to represent Pakistan cricket rather than pursuing alternate options.
“I want to serve Pakistan team with respect and my first priority is always to represent my country although there are parallel options available,” he said.
Hafeez also said that had it not been for his friends and family, he would have taken retirement from the game altogether after being left out of the side.
“The attitude of some people with me was totally unacceptable which is why I started pondering over taking retirement but my family and close friends motivated me to stay positive and ensure that I end my career on the field,” he said.
Hafeez was declared player of the series in the recently concluded three-match T20I series against New Zealand. Talking about his performances since comeback, he cited confidence as a major reason behind his success.
“I’m glad that that through my performances Pakistan is winning,” he said. “A key factor behind my performance since comeback is improved confidence and also knowing that this is my last chance with the Pakistan team.”
He added: “Throughout my career I have tried to respond to my critics through performances on the field and it’s the same this time around.”
The 38-year-old also stated that he won’t retire unless there is a proper replacement available — who can serve Pakistan cricket for a long duration.
“When you put your heart and soul into something for so many years, it is important to end on a high and I have the same intention,” he said. “I’m not going to leave cricket solely on my own terms as I want to ensure that whenever I leave there is a proper replacement who can take my place for the next ten years.”
Hafeez also pointed out the difficulties he has faced while bowling with a remodeled action.
“It is difficult to bowl with the same impact with a remodeled bowling action,” he said. “In order to avoid being reported for suspect bowling action once again, I keep on analysing my bowling action thoroughly after every match.”
Sharing his thoughts on playing all three formats of the game, Hafeez said that there is little pressure of this unless until his form and fitness deserts him.
“I have been playing all three formats of the game for the past eight to ten years so adjustment is not an issue,” he said. “As soon as I am unable to meet the demands of playing every format I will step aside, but for now I think I have the form and fitness to feature in both limited overs and Test cricket.”
Hafeez also stressed on the need for resumption of Indo-Pak cricketing ties.
“Performing in an Indo-Pak series generates an entirely different feeling all together no other performance can replace that,” he said. “The series generates a lot of interest whenever it takes place and people and players from both sides of the border miss its absence.”
He added: “Politics and cricket should be separate and I hope bilateral series between Pakistan and India begins soon.”
Speaking about the dwindling value of Test cricket, Hafeez believes that longest format of the game needs an additional factor of entertainment in order to thrive.
“I think there is need for some entertainment aspect in Test cricket in order to lure people towards the stadiums,” he said. “As things stand, only two to three countries experience massive crowds when it comes to Test cricket.