Pakistan announced their 18-man squad for the Test tour of Australia that starts on December 14. The squad contains as many as seven seam-bowling options, including Shaheen Afridi among others. However, one name not in that list is that of Haris Rauf.
Rauf, who recently featured in Pakistan’s ignominious 2023 World Cup campaign, picking 16 wickets from nine games, has featured in just one Test match for Pakistan – in Rawalpindi against England where he was carted for 1-78 in 13 overs.
Despite not having much first-class experience, he was in the scheme of things for the Test tour to Australia, given the injury to Naseem Shah and other express quicks such as Mohammad Hasnain and Ihsanullah.
Haris Rauf backs out after agreeing to play Tests vs Australia
Wahab, the new Pakistan chief selector, however, revealed in a press conference today (November 20) that despite initially agreeing to participate in the Test series, Rauf backed out at the last minute citing workload and fitness concerns.
“We had a talk with Haris Rauf for this tour. When we talked with him two days back, he gave his consent that he will play Test cricket for Pakistan. But last night, he changed his mind and he doesn’t want to be part of this Australia Test series,” said Wahab.
According to Wahab, Rauf was concerned about his recovery after a long World Cup campaign.
“We talked to Haris [Rauf] yesterday and he was worried about having fitness and workload issues. So Mohammad Hafeez, the team director, and I sat with him and tried to facilitate him in every way. Even if he would have failed on the tour, I was ready to accept it as a chief selector,” said Wahab.
The Pakistan chief selector said that they consulted the team physio regarding Rauf’s fitness and were given the green light. “About his fitness, we talked to the physio and he said he [Rauf] won’t be having any fitness issues going ahead.
“Obviously he’s played so much cricket so he is fatigued, but we could have carried out things really well. But he pulled out at the last moment and made himself unavailable for this tour, which I think will cost Pakistan.”
Chief selector Wahab Riaz criticises Rauf
Elaborating further on the plan of picking Rauf for the Test tour, Wahab said that the team intended to use him in short bursts.
“What we discussed with the coach and captain was that we wanted to utilise Haris Rauf in Test cricket because he’s an impact bowler. We weren’t demanding more than 10-12 overs from him in a day, which he has done in ODIs as well.”
Rauf’s backing out irked Wahab, who said that being a contracted player, it is Rauf’s responsibility to play for Pakistan and make some sacrifices if need be: “The only issue is when you say you are available for Pakistan, and especially now when all three of our Test fast bowlers who can create an impact, who can bowl 140+ are unfit, you need to look to sacrifice and play for Pakistan instead of backing out.
“When it comes to professionalism, we have to see what’s best for Pakistan. Haris [Rauf] has not been part of any Test series after the England Test, but since we felt that we needed him and when you are a centrally contracted player, it is your duty to serve Pakistan.”
The three-Test series starts on December 14 with the first match to be played in Perth, followed by two games in Melbourne and Sydney.
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