Afridi, speaking at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), expressed his belief that Rauf should have been part of the Pakistan Test side, especially given the conditions in Australia, which he felt were ideal for Rauf’s style of fast bowling.
Rauf’s Participation in the Big Bash League
Rauf’s absence from the Test series was self-imposed, as he chose to manage his workload and protect his body.
During this period, he played four games for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia.
This decision has been a point of contention, with Pakistan’s Test squad lacking high-pace bowlers in the series.
The Impact of Rauf’s Absence on the Pakistan Team
Pakistan’s pace attack in the series comprised medium-fast bowlers like Khurram Shahzad and Aamer Jamal in the first Test, and Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali in the second.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, despite being the young leader of the pace battery, has not fully recovered his pace post a knee injury, mostly operating in the low 130s kmph.
Afridi believes that Rauf’s inclusion could have significantly bolstered Pakistan’s bowling lineup in the Australian conditions.
The Challenges Faced in Perth and Melbourne
The pitches in Perth and Melbourne, particularly at the Optus Stadium and MCG, were lively and offered extra assistance to fast bowlers.
Afridi noted that the kind of pace Rauf possesses would have been highly effective on these pitches.
The absence of a high-pace bowler like Rauf was felt acutely as Pakistan struggled in the series, especially in the face of Australia’s seamers’ success.
Afridi’s Broader Views on Pakistan Cricket
Shahid Afridi emphasized the need for Pakistan to invest in depth rather than focusing on individual players.
He highlighted the importance of having a strong bench, stating that the A team should be as robust as the main team.
This approach, according to Afridi, would ensure that the absence of key players like Shaheen, Babar Azam, or Mohammad Rizwan does not significantly impact the team’s performance.
Afridi’s Confidence in Pakistan’s Capabilities
Despite the challenges, Afridi backed Pakistan to maintain a fighting spirit in the ongoing Test.
He expressed confidence in Babar Azam’s abilities and the potential of the team to chase down significant targets, even in challenging conditions like those at the MCG.
Conclusion: Balancing National Duties and League Cricket
The debate around Haris Rauf’s decision to play in the BBL instead of participating in the Test series against Australia raises important questions about balancing national duties with league cricket.
Afridi’s comments reflect a broader concern in the cricketing world about the impact of lucrative T20 leagues on international cricket commitments.
As the sport continues to evolve, the decisions made by players like Rauf will likely remain a topic of discussion and analysis in the cricketing community.