South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd Twenty20, Centurion March 3, 2013

Criticism of Whatmore was unfair - Hafeez


Unless it is the World Twenty20 final, winning a match in the shortest format is seldom the cause for massive celebration. Today, it was.

For Mohammed Hafeez, Pakistan's thumping of South Africa was as much an individual triumph as it was a team one. It showed that he has not lost his touch even after the Test series brought that up for debate. It showed that the team is not incapable of competing with and beating an opposition that continues to be talked up as better than them. And it showed those who have called for heads to roll, their words came too early.

Hafeez animatedly defended everyone in the Pakistan setup, specifically the coach Dav Whatmore, with even more gusto than he celebrated their victory. He thought it proved the criticism they have copped from home was unreasonable and this would put an end to some of that.

"It was unfair. If the results of one format do not come in your favour, it does not mean the boys are not working hard or the coach is not good enough. Those are all premature statements from people sitting I don't know where," he said.

"And it does not mean that if we win the coach is working harder. He was working the same way with us throughout. We are all behind him and we've all been working hard."

Although it was not specifically mentioned, Hafeez's comments were an obvious rebuttal to former captain Moin Khan's call for Whatmore to be sacked. Moin called Whatmore "overrated" and said he was "fighting for survival." Hafeez scoffed at all of that.

Instead, he said his team had simply shown what he always knew they were capable of. He also asked for people to remain patient with them because of the difficulties of their circumstances, which includes not playing at home "for the last four years but still doing good things for Pakistan cricket."

A trophy from South Africa is one of those achievements. Even though it came from a format that is brushed aside as a small boys' game and a contest in which one match was washed out, it means something. "We really wanted to do something good in this format because of the ODIs coming up. We knew the importance of this game," Hafeez said. "Tests require a different discipline but here everyone just played without fear."

Hafeez led by example in that regard. His 86 was a fluent innings, punctuated with classy strokes and calculated risk-taking. After a lean Test series, it will go a long way to boost his confidence. "I knew that I was playing very well in the nets, it's just that I was getting good balls in the Test series and that was disappointing," he said. "But I stayed positive, the coaches kept me positive and worked hard with me."

The move to No. 3 also seems to have worked and Hafeez will likely stay there. With the youngsters Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad upfront, he was required to drop down to provide experience and although it is not his first choice, he can see the benefit in doing it. "I always prefer to come as an opener but this is the requirement of the team. We are looking to the future and Ahmed Shehzad has been doing well domestically and we wanted to give him a chance. I will do whatever I have to for the team."

For the first time on this tour, the team Hafeez so passionately talks about have a reason to smile. It is largely because of him and Umar Gul, who Hafeez said was "outstanding," and is "always good in this format."

They also have a reason to be hopeful ahead of their five-match ODI series in South Africa and Hafeez hopes they continue in this vein. "We've got a great feeling in the dressing room now. It's a feeling that has been missing for 42 days and it's great to have it now."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Uzair on March 6, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    I think we should give credit to South African bowlers in test series. Pakistan was up against best team in the world cricket right now, with the best bowling line up in the world. To me Pakistan did decent job against those best bowling line up. They should have done it better but still this is decent. Pakistani fans should have much more patience coz Pakistan side is full of youngsters.

    Hats off to Gul and Hafeez for their T20 performance. Congrats Pakistan..

  • aziz on March 5, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    Whatmore cannot be judged on one series alone. What i a selection committee, if they have to take approval from the chairman. Moin Khan and Rashid Latif who runs the training centers, should recommend a list of players. The captain and the coach should select the players according to the condition. Sending 15 players was not necessary for the T-20 series in South Africa when the ODI team is already in SA. The selectors could have sent 13 players for the T-20 series, in case of injuries the captain and coach could have taken a few players from the ODI team already there. For ODI also, 13 players are enough and the captaion and coach could add one or two from the T-20 players who did well in those matches. Shahzad Ahmad should replace Imran Farhat. Abdul Rahman and Asad Shafiq should be sent home.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2013, 14:56 GMT

    blame captain and players for the loss not coach, some stupid former Pakistani player including moin khan and mohsin khan gave statement that we need local coach because it's easier to communicate with players. Thats a worst statement i ever heard teach our players how to speak english rather then going against coach

  • Abrar on March 5, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    Pakistan needs to bring some Test Match Specialists for their Test team, and SA needs to bring some better T20 players; as a Viewer I would like to see a good contest but not in Tests and nor in T20 I have seen it.

    Bring some specialist players for each format so that we can see a good contest, a Thriller, no one likes to see One sided matches ...

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    Oh NO!!!! Now Hafeez and Gul will continue to play based on their T20 performance, regardless of how poorly they performed in tests. This is outrageous.

  • Jawwad on March 4, 2013, 19:03 GMT

    There is not a Twenty20 match where Ahmad Shahzad has not taken a spectacular catch and often shines with his seamless hitting. This guy should have always been part of the ODI team.

  • Mobeen on March 4, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    People like Moin Khan are like Vultures who are sitting out there and waiting for anything wrong to happen so they can start munching on the opportunity. Look around Moin Khan India,SL, Bang all with the similar cultures have forign coaches to avoid the favouritism factors from the teams. At the same time I think Hafeez was a little too quick in taking on all the critics, may be he should have held it off till the ODI's. May be he is not convinced and motivated enough to carry this short burst of Twenty20 Victory against the SAfrican trial team to the ODI's. Mr. Hafeez allow the performance give the shup-up call to the critics.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 17:44 GMT

    I am a Pakistani and if there is any other team I like the most after Pakistan is South African cricket team, perhaps because I consider them very unfortunate that despite having full potential they have never won any T20 or ODI World Cup so far. Let's come to the point. I know very well humiliation that we suffered by 3-0 defeat in the test series cannot be overshadowed by this huge victory of 95 runs, but Pakistan has gained some pride back by lifting the trophy of T20 series. Apart from bowling South Africa out in their lowest total of all time in T20, Pakistan can also cheer about they sent all the entire team of South Africa back to the pavilion in just 12.2 overs specially in a bitch which was a batting paradise. Can someone please tell me if there is any other major test playing team who was bowled out in just 12.2 hours or less in T20 before? This shows T20 is NOT just about hitting randomly; you have to choose your shots wisely or you all may be bowled out in just 12 overs

  • Catalin on March 4, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Really really impressed with Ahmed Shehzad ... with the bat .. in the field ... He has a great future ahead !! All the best ! Hope to see him in the next matches !

    And i`m rooting for the SA .. :)) ... before hafeez came to bat i was thinking 'a duck is most likely for him .. again' .... a big 'bravo' to him ! Yap .. playing all that time away from home ... and they are still good and winning matches ! The next Test Series between these 2 will surely be closer !! Looking forward to that games also !!

    All the best !!

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    Criticising when the team is on a tour is not the best time, i think Moin Khan should know this better. The test side lacks batting quality, T20 is a different ball game so a lack in one form does not compensate for the other's loss. But this issue of batting woes can be best addressed after the tour, not to sensationalise it. This is why a friend and i agree on this, not every khan is "Imran Khan".