May 14, 2012

Pakistan cricket

Clean and confident Hafeez has it all to lose

Carlyle Laurie

Pakistan’s new Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez may be seen as a clean and a confident player who has worked his way up the ranks with strong performances in domestic cricket. Osman Samiuddin, writing in the National, says that at a time when players are jostling for spots and even leadership roles, Hafeez’s man-management skills will be put to the test.

Captaincy should not overwhelm him, at least not immediately. He has led domestically, though more relevantly has been an involved and influential deputy to Misbah-ul-Haq, a man from whom the captain has often sought advice and support. As it is, his grasp of people will be more important. Pakistan's Test side is stable but in flux elsewhere. Players are jostling for spots and roles, even leadership.

Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik, former captains, are their own centres of influence. Misbah was not happy about the T20 snub – naturally – and though the pair are close, these decisions change the dynamics of a relationship.

In all this, Hafeez's own game will come under increased scrutiny. As worthy as his contributions have been – he still judges his returns as batsman first – he is still one purple patch from being a top batsman; he needs hundreds and more fifties, not just delicious 30s and 40s. That kind of player is never too far from being cast aside.

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