Pakistan v England 2011-12 December 27, 2011

Riaz relieved to be back after unexplained break


Wahab Riaz, the Pakistan left-arm fast bowler, has said he is relieved to be back in the Test squad for the series against England, after an unexplained six-month break from international cricket. Riaz seemed to have cemented his place in the Pakistan team after an impressive introduction to international cricket but has found himself out of the national side after the tour of the West Indies in May this year.

His name had come up during the spot-fixing trial of Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir in October. The prosecution read out a written statement by Pakistan's security manager, Major Khwaja Najam Javed, which said Najam had found Azhar Majeed, brother of player agent Mazhar Majeed who was convicted of spot-fixing, in Riaz's room in the company of Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal after midnight during The Oval Test match. At the time his name came up in the case Riaz was with the Pakistan Test squad in the UAE for a series against Sri Lanka but did not play any of the Tests and was sent home before the one-day series.

"I am happy and relaxed to be selected again," Riaz told ESPNcricinfo. "I am honoured that the PCB and the selectors have kept their faith in me and supported me all the way. It was a nagging situation for me when I was out and it's obviously difficult when you are not part of the national team despite having all the ability to represent them.

"It was tough not being part of the squad for some time. But I had a firm belief that things will be cleared; I don't want to get into the details. What I know is that I am ready for yet another stint. I have kept myself fit and in form while playing domestic cricket so I don't think I will face any difficulty."

Riaz's last Test match was against West Indies in May. After that he had a stint with Kent during the English domestic season and was rested for Pakistan's tour of Zimbabwe. He seemed set to return for the series against Sri Lanka but did not play a match and was subsequently left out of the squad for the tour of Bangladesh. In the meantime, he took 30 wickets for National Bank of Pakistan at an average of 24.86 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's first-class competition. He also got 213 runs in eight innings at an average of 35.50.

Riaz, 26, said he is working on troubling the England batsmen with pace during the Test series that starts in the third week of January. He is among two left-arm seamers in the Test squad, the other being Junaid Khan, who has taken 13 wickets in four Tests in Riaz's absence. Riaz said he had added to his game by improving his batting and wanted to help Pakistan continue their successful run.

"I am fully fit and in good rhythm to carry on. I'm focusing on speed and some variation in my deliveries. I am bowling at a speed of 150 kph and am useful with the bat down the order.

"Our team has done well through the year. The England series will be a tough one but we've got a good combination of bowlers. I will do my best to live up to the expectations."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mir on December 29, 2011, 23:58 GMT

    my best wishes to both teams.the spin bowlers of england have mushtaq as their coach.he knows our batting ang UAE pitches too.the players of both team are in such a form to poise this series with some gripping cricket.

  • Aamir on December 29, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    @ jonnybtestmatch To be honest, will England survive in the UAE? Can their fast bowlers adapt to UAE pitches? The blazing heat will get to them. Swann will be decent but Pakistan's pace attack will perform better than England's pace attack. We wouldn't have to worry about Strauss or Cook at all. We are only wary of Trott, Bell, KP(Sometimes), Morgan and Swann. I would understand you not fearing Hafeez's batting but Azhar can stay at the crease for long periods of time and can frustrate the bowlers. England have got to worry about Hafeez(Bowling), Azhar, Younis, Misbah, Umar Akmal, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul(Sometimes depending if he delivers a yorker). Personally, I have not seen any preparation of England towards Pakistan as Pakistan will be a dangerous opposition towards England. The only thing I have seen is England bringing in Panesar of whom I believe, will not be a threat to Pakistan.

  • irfan on December 29, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    good luck wahab riaz. think we don't need to wait for aamir we have much better bowlers like wahab ,talha,tanveer ahmed,anwar ali, junaid ,umer gul and cheema

  • Ali on December 29, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    woohoo.......Riaz is back and bowling at pace......

  • Jonny on December 29, 2011, 12:32 GMT

    England have struggled in the sub continent in the past because they have had a poor side ill suited to the conditions. Now England have a class side, with a class spinner and class players of spin bowling. I think Pakistan will choke the minute their batting is put under pressure and England should win this series easily. The attack of Pakistan is good, but not great like their fans are led to believe. I belive Morgan will hold the key for England in this series, as he can murder the spinners if he gets going. Bell is a brilliant player of spin too and I can't see him haveing troble with the chucker Ajmal and the medium pacer Rehman. At worst England will draw, as the pitches are dead and offer no assistance to anyone. But as for Pakistan winning 3-0 then you must be kidding. Trust me no-one in worlkd cricket fears Azhar Ai and Hafeez.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2011, 9:42 GMT

    1.Hafeez 2.Tufeeq 3.Azher ali 4.Yunas 5.Misbaha 6.Umer akmal 7.Adnan akmal 8.WAHAB 9.Gul 10.Junaid 11.Ajmal final test elevn mentioned so need to persist with this lineup in three test matches,england have to face musizk this time,m gona tell u now every series will be clean sweep from pakistan. they are hungery now ..common rock pakistan team

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    After reading many comments from some English fans, I think they Should not be very over confident about their team, they only played 2 t20s in UAE as I remember so it might be difficult for them to adjust the conditions.Also Pakistanis don't have a bad test record in UAE so the series will be a 50/50 for both sides.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    Where is Anwar Ali, He is the best fast bowler in Karachi.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2011, 6:00 GMT

    hope pakistan win the series! umer gul, wahab riaz, and mohammad talha should be the pacemen for the first est.

  • Suman on December 29, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    @BarmyIan - Don't be too confident mate. I think that Pakistan has the bowlers to keep the deep English batting line up in check. I do however think that England will win the series, but it will be close (unlike the India test series)

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