It's like another start - Razzaq
Abdul Razzaq feels as "thrilled and excited" at the prospect of being able to resume his international career as he did when he made his debut. Razzaq, who was out in the cold nearly two years ago when he decided to join the ICL, will be on his way to bolster Pakistan's squad for the ICC World Twenty20, having been named as a replacement for Yasir Arafat, who is out of the tournament after pulling a hamstring in Pakistan's opening match.
"I am thrilled. I've always wanted to play for Pakistan because it is the biggest honour as a player," Razzaq told Cricinfo. "I've always wanted that and now that the ICL stuff has been sorted out and the NOC approved, I'm glad this is out of the way. It is like another start and I am very excited."
Razzaq will fly out of Lahore in the early hours of Friday, which means his participation for the Super Eights game against Sri Lanka at The Oval on the same day is still uncertain.
Razzaq signed up with the ICL in anger after being overlooked for Pakistan's squad for the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in September 2007. He also decided to retire from international cricket, having had a public blast at the previous selection committee as well as unidentified players in the team, though he soon reversed that decision.
Since then, most of Razzaq's cricket over the last two years has been in this format and he has been hugely successful in the ICL's two seasons. He scored 183 runs at 22.87 and was the joint-highest wicket-taker with 18 wickets in the first season, and finished fifth on the run charts with 276 runs and took 12 wickets in the second. However, international cricket, as he acknowledged, is a different level altogether. He is confident that he is match-fit, but that will only be confirmed if and when he plays.
"I've been concentrating and working hard on my fitness all this time," he said. "I've been playing a lot of Twenty20, but also some first-class cricket [this season] and club cricket. I know international cricket is a different level but I'll try and overcome any deficiencies there may be. I am confident of my match fitness."
Razzaq's canny medium-pace and explosive batting higher up or in the middle order seem ideally suited to Twenty20, as the ICL experience suggests. Unsurprisingly, he is fond of the format. "It's excellent because it requires you to play smart cricket. You feel like you don't have time to think once the game starts but you have to be smart with your bowling, your variations. And, depending on where you bat, you have to adjust very swiftly to the pace of the game."
Razzaq has fond memories of England, where he first made such a telling impact in the 1999 World Cup. Though his career never took off as expected thereafter, it would be a fitting venue to make another impact. "Obviously I have experience of the conditions and good memories from the 1999 World Cup. I think the experience should hold me in good stead and if I can do what I did back then, I'd be more than happy," he said.
The move, Razzaq hopes, might pave the way for a return to Pakistan colours in the Test and ODI set-up. "I'm ready and willing to play for Pakistan in whatever format. Obviously selection is up to the captain, the board, the selectors but, if I do well enough, why not?"
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo