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May 13, 2014
Umar Gul, the Pakistan fast bowler, has expressed interest in filling the vacant post of national Twenty20 captain, though he insisted he first wants to return to top form. The PCB has been looking for a Twenty20 captain since the World T20, after which Mohammad Hafeez stepped down.
Gul, 30, is a vastly experienced T20 player but had a difficult 2013 when he was sidelined by injury for nine months, before returning in December. Doubts over his fitness resurfaced when he withdrew from the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka in January. However, he continues to make the limited-overs squads and is currently the world's second highest T20 wicket-taker and one of the most senior players in the Pakistan squad.
"I also wish to be a captain so that when I retire I will be remembered as former captain," Gul told reporters at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "But it depends on PCB what they think. I want to return to performing like I used to in the past, and if so then why not (consider the captaincy). But I have no issue playing under any captain, either the senior or junior, and recently I have fully supported Hafeez as well."
Gul sustained a knee injury in March 2013 during the second ODI against South Africa in Centurion, and has missed five series since, including the Champions Trophy. Following the injury, he travelled to Australia for surgery and after six weeks of rest, began his rehabilitation.
"It's very difficult to come back after injury in international cricket but still I am lucky enough to survive. Though things were a bit up and down I am feeling much better in this summer camp. I am trying to do hard training more than others so that I could be as much fit as I was before operation."
He took nearly a year to regain full fitness, and has re-established himself in the limited-overs sides, though his Test career remains in the balance.
"I haven't yet decided whether I am fully fit for Test matches but this summer camp will obviously give me a great opportunity to fine-tune myself in the time without international cricket. I can't say whether I will be fit again (for Test cricket) but I will see later (after the camp) whether I am fit for Test matches or not.
"T20 is easier than Test and ODI, in one hour 20 minutes you have to bowl a four-over spell, every player is preferring to play and you don't need that much fitness for it. But for the sake of fitness and for the ongoing training camp I had turned down an offer from Somerset so that I could prepare hard for the upcoming international cricket."
After the World T20 in Bangladesh ended in early April, Pakistan have no international cricket till August. The PCB decided to hold a month-long summer camp to ensure the players stay fit during the international break. Gul is among 40 players who are undergoing extensive training at Lahore under the supervision of bowling coach Mohammad Akram.
While Pakistan's players are training at home most of the top players around the world are in India featuring in the Indian Premier League. Gul, who was part of the first season of the IPL, rued the missed opportunity. "We miss IPL because we are deprived of sharing a dressing room with the best players in the world," said Gul. "Being a professional you learn a lot by sharing a bench with players like Hussey and many more. In fact, even our junior players should go out and play such leagues whether it is county cricket, Big Bash or IPL. It will make you more professional."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalsonFeeds: Umar Farooq
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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