Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali has said that he and his team-mates entered into an agreement to maintain their fitness during lockdown so that cricket can be restarted.
Pakistanis have not played any competitive cricket since the Pakistan Super League was halted due to the Kovid-19 epidemic in March earlier this year. However, with a tour of England on the horizon, some players are working at the Makeshift Home Gym, while those based in Lahore are using Qadar Academy and the private net facility of head coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
Once Pakistan’s primary squad reaches the UK, they begin with a two-week quarantine in Worcester, during which they will be able to train, and then move to Derby. They are also set to play two internal warm-up games in August and September before three Tests and three T20Is.
“We are happy now,” Ali said at a pre-departure video conference from a hotel room in Lahore. “The wait is over and cricket is starting again. There is a lot of excitement and hunger to play cricket. For a long time, we were not able to play cricket, a sport that we love the most and it is the most It was a difficult time. Through a lot of challenges at home over the past few months. We all kept in touch with each other on the WhatsApp group and made an agreement that we had to maintain our fitness.
“There were many people who built a gym at home, some had found a different place to keep it and made sure that we would have to maintain our physical fitness. Because we know that if we are in good shape, We can work on our skills at any time. The platform to regain our momentum later. Now, we have a month in England to prepare and hopefully, it is to focus on the skills and in our groove, It’s enough time to come back. ”
The PCB initially planned to send a team of 29 players to the UK, but earlier this week ten of them tested positive for coronavirus. On Saturday, PCB chief executive, Wasim Khan, announced that six of those ten returned negative results when he was tested for the second time. The primary squad, which flew from Lahore to Manchester on Sunday, will consist of 20 players and 11 support staff. The other two will join them after returning the negative test.
“We weren’t worried about saying that we didn’t have any symptoms,” Ali said. “In fact, we never really thought that anything can get positive results even without any prompting. So there and then we all started getting worried because we spent hard times waiting for cricket and once it started Was about to happen. Suddenly the thing [ten players tested positive] happened. But if anything happens, you can’t control it. We knew about the testing process and we had at least two tests before going to England. We were mentally prepared. But obviously this news about the positives scared us. ”
Did Pakistan try to divert attention from cricket after this? “Now it’s a part and parcel of the game and we’ll get used to it,” Ali said. The first couple of tests and once you are in a bio-safe environment you feel completely different. We were at home and came here [hotel] and we started feeling more secure. There are still challenges but cricket will have to move that way for some time. It is a difficult time and we will try to entertain all the people there waiting for cricket. So the boys are confident and looking forward to the tour which will hopefully go smoothly. ”
Pakistan last played Test cricket in February, when a teenager Nasim Shah raced through Bangladesh in Rawalpindi. He was later scheduled to play the second Test in April, but the epidemic threw the sports calendar out of gear by then. However, Ali still drew confidence from his recent success at home and his previous trip to England in 2018.
“The batting has always been tough in England but we did well in our last outing,” he said. “At home in the last Test, our batsmen had scored a lot of centuries and the confidence still remains. So we have a lot to take to England. In England, once we get over 300 runs on the board, So I hope we do well in Test matches.