Pakistan news January 14, 2013

Hafeez wants Pakistan to play more Tests

Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan's Test vice captain, has urged the PCB to schedule more Test matches for the national team because he believes it is the format that helps produce quality cricketers. In the last five years, Pakistan have played 35 Tests, more than only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. England, in comparison, played 63.

"It's unfortunate that we get less Test matches," Hafeez said in Karachi. "We played three Tests in January [2012] and then three in June, and again after six months we will play in South Africa, which is hard on us. I would urge the board to take up this issue and try to schedule more Test matches for us because I believe players only develop by playing Test matches.

"Test cricket produces good quality cricketers, like we have found Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq. We need to promote Test cricket but if we play only six Tests in a year then it will be tough. I think PCB needs to fight for more Tests in the next fixture because you get quality cricketers from Test cricket."

According to the ICC's FTP, Pakistan are scheduled to play 88 Tests between 2012 and 2020. They will play ten Tests in 2013 and then face a five to six-month break before hosting Australia for three Tests in October 2014. Pakistan have had to play their home Tests at off-shore venues such as England and the UAE after the Sri Lankan team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in March 2009.

Pakistan's last Test series was in Sri Lanka in June and July and they head to South Africa later this month for a three-match contest, which begins on February 1. Their previous tour to South Africa was in 2007, and of this current squad only Hafeez, Younis Khan and Faisal Iqbal were in that tour party.

"A Test series in South Africa will be challenging because the conditions are different. We played there in 2007 but this time we are carrying an entirely new combination," Hafeez said. "We are going there ten days in advance and have a side match before the Test so it will give us some good preparation. They have a good combination of batting and bowling but we too are going there after winning our series in India, which has lifted our morale a lot."

Pakistan selectors on Friday named two rookie fast bowlers - Mohammad Irfan and Ehsan Adil - for the South Africa tour, along with Junaid Khan and Umar Gul. "It's a decision of the selection committee," said Hafeez, accepting his "side is short of another fast bowler" but he was confident this attack, which includes spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, would fare well in South Africa.

"We have an emerging bowler in Junaid Khan and then Umar Gul is very experienced," Hafeez said. "Mohammad Irfan is also progressing well."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent