Mohammad Hafeez denies retirement rumours, says he is always available for Pakistan

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Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez insisted he has not given up hopes of a comeback after rumours of imminent retirement.

Hafeez’s career received a setback on Tuesday as he was excluded from the squad for the Asia Cup in the UAE.

Pakistan went in for young opening batsman Shan Masood after the 37-year-old Hafeez didn’t get to play a single match in the five-ODI series against Zimbabwe.

Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said Hafeez remains part of Pakistan’s World Cup plans. “Hafeez is a part of the 20-22 players that we are considering for the World Cup. Hafeez is a good player and now he can bowl as well (after the ICC cleared his action). But, we have other options now,” Inzamam said.

Hafeez called a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday with many expecting a rant against the management or even his retirement announcement. But according to various reports from Pakistan, Hafeez received a call from the Pakistan board assuring him that he was still part of the team’s plans.

Hafeez went ahead with another presser in the evening, where he denied all rumours of his retirement.

“Whatever decision the stakeholders of Pakistan cricket take, I am with them. All rumours (about retirement) surrounding me are not true. I am available for Pakistan cricket,” Hafeez said.

“I am a fighter and will fight this scenario. I will play Qaid-e-Azam trophy and try to put in performances. selection is not in my hand,” he added.

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PCB's new chairman Ehsan Mani says Pakistan will not 'ask' India for matches

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Newly appointed PCB chairman Ehsan Mani.

Pakistan Cricket Board’s new chief Ehsan Mani has taken a tough stance when it comes to India, declaring that he will fight for Pakistan’s interest.

Talking about the challenges facing the Pakistan board vis-a-vis the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the legal battle over India’s failure to play bilateral cricket with his country, Mani said he will fight for his team but insisted Pakistan will no longer ask for matches.

“I will not request India to play with us. Their own policy has been contradictory, as they are ready to play multi-nation tournaments like Asia Cup and World Cup but have a different stance on bilateral arrangements,” Mani was quoted as saying.

“I never understood their positions… India’s influence is far greater (in ICC) but I will fight Pakistan’s corner.”

The Pakistan board is seeking damages to the tune of $70 million in lost revenues following the BCCI’s reluctance to play two series – in 2014 and 2015 – which was part of an agreement signed in 2014.

Mani also said one of his main targets was to bring in greater professionalism in the PCB’s structure as too much power lies in the hands of the chairman.

“Too much power is accorded to the chairman, which isn’t good practice,” Mani said. “Nowhere in the world does this happen so we have to tweak the constitution. Ideally professional teams run on a professional basis. The idea is to take Pakistan to the next level by professionalising the system.”

Mani has extensive administrative experience. He represented Pakistan at the ICC from 1996-2002 and was the ICC chief from 2003-2006.

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Salman Butt reportedly being considered for Pakistan 'A' team against England Lions

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Salman Butt

Disgraced former Pakistan captain Salman Butt is back in the limelight but this time for a different set of reasons.

The 33-year-old left-handed batsman has been overlooked, quite understandably, by the Pakistan management for three years following the expiry of the five-year ban imposed on him for his involvement in the 2010 Lord’s Test spot-fixing scandal.

Left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, also implicated in that scandal, came back into the team almost immediately upon the completion of his ban but Butt, who was seen as the leader of the operation and much more aware of the seriousness of the situation than the-then teenaged Amir,  has not found many supporters in the Pakistan senior establishment.

Butt returned to domestic cricket in 2016 and hit top form straightaway, helping his team WAPDA win Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first-class tournament. However, despite promises of being considered for selection, Butt didn’t get a look-in. It is believed the 2017 PSL spot-fixing scandal made the management edgy about optics.

However, it seems there is a ray of hope for Butt. According to reports in Pakistan, Butt has a good chance of making it to the Pakistan ‘A’ that will face the England Lions towards the end of the year in the UAE.

Speaking to Cricbuzz, Butt said he deserves an opportunity just like Amir and should at least get to play for Pakistan ‘A’.

“Nobody from the board has contacted me,” Butt said. “Inzi bhai had said in a press conference that I would be tried in the A team first. That time the A tour did not happen. Now with this series coming up, it is good that you have reminded of it.”

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