Be cricketers, not quitters: Mohammad Wasim tells First XI cast-offs

Faizan Lakhani
Northern head coach Mohammad Wasim. Photo: File 

Northern head coach Mohammad Wasim has expressed his disappointment over recent withdrawals from Second XI, stating that players should make use of whatever opportunity they have in their front instead of being disheartened at not making the First XI and quitting.

The Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) new domestic structure is divided into two tiers, with the First XI being the main side and Second XI composed of second-stringers.

Several experienced players, including Salman Butt and Sami Aslam, have recently withdrawn from the Second XI after failing to make the main squad, while Mohammad Irfan Jr has gone to the extreme of giving up cricket altogether due to the snub.

Wasim has advised such cricketers to fight and persevere, also reminding them that all the domestic head coaches are by default also members of the selection committee and quitting would not reflect nicely on their records.

"You’ve to respect whatever opportunity you get. There’s always a window available for you to perform and to get to the next level. There are examples that players have graduated to First XI after performing in Second XI," he told Geo Super via Zoom.

"We are not only the coaches of respective regions but also the members of selection committee so we make decisions keeping the future in account."

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'Mental toughness will be key this year' 

Wasim further said that mental toughness will play a pivotal role in this year's domestic season as players will be restricted to their bio-secure environment. 

The PCB, with the help of its English counterpart, has created its own bio-secure zone along with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the domestic season. 

Wasim, who is currently with his team in a bio-secure environment in Multan for the first leg of the National T20 Cup, admitted that the restriction in movement was a challenging situation for players.

"It is not easy and only those who are mentally tough and strong will succeed this season," he told Geo Super

"The situation can affect anyone - be it the players, coaches or support staff so it is important to remain focused."

Despite the restriction, the former Pakistan and Netherlands batsman said that the arrangements made by the authorities, which include recreational activities, would help players remain mentally fit. 

"All the players are at the same hotels. There are different games available inside the venue so it is helping players stay fresh." 

When asked about the players' ability to perform after a large break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the coach said that "the cricketers have ample time to regain their lost momentum", adding that his sole focus for now was his players' mental health rather than skills. 

"There may be players who would not be able to middle the ball or could struggle to bowl the right line. It is important that we let them regain their self-confidence gradually. The good thing is that we have got 10-12 days before the start of the tournament, which will allow the players to regain rhythm before the competition," he said. 

“As a coach, right now my focus is not on anyone’s skills. I am trying to make them mentally strong and help them regain their confidence,” he added.

Meanwhile, Wasim confirmed that Shadab Khan will lead the side in absence of Imad Wasim, who is in the UK for his county commitments.

Be cricketers, not quitters: Mohammad Wasim tells First XI cast-offs