Pakistan are scheduled to play three Test matches in Australia starting mid-December. Ace white-ball speedster Rauf, however, won’t be part of the series after having withdrawn his participation citing workload and fitness concerns.
Newly appointed Pakistan men’s selector Wahab Riaz revealed in a press conference this week that Rauf, who holds a central contract, was considered for selection for the Australia Tests, but pulled out at the last moment after initially agreeing to play.
Rauf has previously expressed concerns regarding his workload and his fitness, although the Pakistan team physio had cleared him of any injury concerns.
Akram, speaking to reporters at Kayo Sports’ Summer of Cricket launch event today (December 8), said that it was Rauf’s decision if he wanted to prioritise white-ball cricket, but added that Test cricket is essential to build a legacy as great of the game.
“That’s his decision,” Akram said. “He’s a contracted player, so there’s a lot of controversies back home. There are some white-ball specialist cricketers in this day and age, if he thinks he’s not there as yet, then that’s his call.
“Test is a big boy’s game at the end of the day. You’ve got to bowl eight-over spells. In T20 you bowl four overs and stand at fine leg. Piece of cake. Test cricket is a long race, and if you want to be remembered as a great of the game, that’s where Test cricket comes in.”
Rauf has played only one Test match so far, against England in 2022. His first-class career is still just nine matches young, while he has played more than 200 white-ball games across formats. He will now next be seen in action in the Big Bash League, plying his trade for Melbourne Stars.
Pakistan will be led by Shan Masood in the Test series following Babar Azam’s resignation as captain. Akram believes that while it will be a tough challenge for a new management and leader, it will also be a blessing in disguise.
“It’ll be tough, the last time Pakistan won here was 1995,” said Akram. “New captain, new management. It will take some time. Ideally this is not the best tour for any young captain or your team to come into. It will be very tough for them.
“I think it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. It’s a tough start for a new captain, but if they do well here, if they can compete with the mighty Australians, that will give them a lot of confidence for future games as well.”
Pakistan’s bowling attack will be led by left-arm seamer Shaheen Afridi, with Naseem Shah not yet fully recovered to be considered for selection. The first Test starts in Perth from December 14.
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