'Excellent players but…': Mohammad Hafeez's bitter pill for Babar Azam | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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'Excellent players but you are not…': Mohammad Hafeez's bitter pill for Babar Azam and Rizwan before PCB exit

By, New Delhi
Feb 19, 2024 07:04 PM IST

Mohammad Hafeez had a tough conversation with Pakistan stars Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Former Pakistan director Mohammad Hafeez was shown the exit door after the disastrous tours of Australia and New Zealand. Appointed as director of cricket of Pakistan men's senior cricket team, former all-rounder Hafeez was offered the top job after the 2023 edition of the ICC World Cup. Champions in the 1992 edition, Pakistan failed to enter the business end of the ICC event in India. After a forgetful campaign, premier batter Babar stepped down as the leader of the Green Army from all formats.

Pakistan's head coach Mohammad Hafeez (3R) speaks with cricket players during a practice session(AFP)
Pakistan's head coach Mohammad Hafeez (3R) speaks with cricket players during a practice session(AFP)

With Pakistan entering a new era under Hafeez's watch, the Babar-starrer Pakistan side played against Australia and New Zealand away from home. The visitors were thrashed 3-0 by Australia in the bilateral Test series. Pakistan also suffered a 4-1 series defeat to New Zealand in the shortest format. On Thursday, PCB media director Aaliya Rasheed confirmed Hafeez's departure as Pakistan's national cricket team director.

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According to news agency PTI, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) refused to offer a long-term contract to Hafeez. When Hafeez was appointed as the director of the Pakistan team, former cricketers Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, and foreign duo - Simon Helmot and Adam Hollioak were unveiled as coaches of the senior men's side. Speaking to a Pakistani news channel after his exit from the Pakistan camp, Hafeez recalled having a tough conversation with Babar and wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan.

'Took me about two months to convince Babar'

Hafeez revealed that it took him months to convince Babar to change his batting position. "It took me about two months to convince Babar Azam that you have to do it for Pakistan and you are not the first one who's doing it. You are a great player, you are a wonderful player and you are playing great cricket however you have to develop the Pakistan team. You and Rizwan are very good players, excellent players but you are not the whole team," Hafeez said.

How Babar performed

Saim Ayub opened the innings for Pakistan with Rizwan in the New Zealand T20Is. Taking up the role of a premier batter, former skipper Babar emerged as the leading run-getter for Pakistan against the Black Caps. Averaging 42.60, Babar smashed 213 runs in five matches against the Kiwis. Opener Ayub only scored 39 runs in the New Zealand series.

Hafeez thanks Babar

"We need to develop a team and for that, I want you to come at No. 3 because you have been playing this role in the ODI cricket for the last six years, so it won't affect you; technically you are very solid. Thank you very much to him that he accepted this and he played for Pakistan at No. 3 which obviously I think is the best way to move," Hafeez added.

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