Hafeez admits to poor showing in Tests
Mohammad Hafeez is quite likely to be axed from Pakistan's Test squad given his poor showing in the format this year but, Hafeez said, he couldn't complain if that happened and it would be part and parcel of the game. A lack of first-class game time, he said, has contributed to his woes, but he still believes he is "one big innings" away from establishing himself in Test cricket.
"It's not a bad patch, it's not form too," Hafeez said in Lahore. "It happens in cricket, you try your best but sometimes you can't perform in a particular format. It's not a matter of technique even, the ball is coming on to my bat but I am not able to play a big innings. It happens with any big cricketer."
Hafeez has aggregated 102 runs in 10 Test innings this year, and his biggest struggle was the three-match Test series against South Africa in February. That signaled the start of his current slump, as he was doing reasonably well since being recalled in 2010 after a three-year gap. In South Africa, he was exposed against moving ball and became Dale Steyn's bunny. On the recent trip to Zimbabwe, he remained off-color in the Tests, scoring 59 in four innings despite being the Man of the Series in the ODIs.
He cited Pakistan's lack of Test matches as a major hurdle for him to turn his form around: "If you look at Test series we played against South Africa six months ago, we didn't play first-class cricket [until the Zimbabwe series this month], so it's a lengthy gap and it's not easy to adapt yourself in the format after such lengthy gap. But yes it's not an excuse, I admit that in the previous five Test matches my performance has not been good and I am concerned about it."
Given his current form, Hafeez says he will accept his fate - whatever it be - when the squad is announced. "I am playing well in the other formats and it's not like that I am not doing the handwork, but maybe I need to be doing more handwork. I am just one big inning away from being settled in the format. But the selectors' job is to pick the best team for Pakistan, if they think my place is there in the team, they will pick me, otherwise I will accept their decision."
Hafeez, 32, is currently the captain of Pakistan's Twenty20 team. He scored 665 runs at 23.75 as a T20 opener but his batting average started to rise after dropping to No. 3 - this year, in four matches at the position he has averaged 52.00. When asked if he would bat down the order to find his rhythm in Tests, Hafeez said: "It's not my decision, to decide whether to bat lower down the order. I am always ready to play at whatever the number they want me to play at, but it's the decision of team management."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here