Chief Selector Wahab Riaz revealed the 18-member Pakistan Test squad for the upcoming Australia tour, marking his inaugural task since assuming the position of the head of the national men’s selection committee last week. The three-match series is slated to occur from December 14, 2023, to January 7, 2024.
Nevertheless, the composition of the squad has generated scrutiny due to the absence of the pacer Haris Rauf. Wahab addressed this exclusion in a press conference, providing insight into Rauf’s decision to opt out of the tour citing concerns related to workload management.
“We engaged in discussions with Haris Rauf about this tour two days ago, and he initially expressed his willingness to play Tests for Pakistan. However, he reversed his decision last night and declined to be a part of this Australia Test series,” stated Riaz.
“He expressed apprehensions about fitness issues and workload. Despite our assurances and our physio confirming no injury concerns but fatigue, he chose to withdraw and is unavailable for this tour. I believe this could have adverse implications for Pakistan cricket,” he added.
However, an ESPNCricinfo report presents a contrasting perspective on the exchange between Rauf and Wahab. A source close to the player informed the publication that Rauf had never committed to participating in the Test matches in Australia from the outset. Therefore, there was no question of a last-minute withdrawal. Rauf reportedly conveyed to Wahab that he hadn’t been extensively involved in red-ball cricket in the lead-up and expressed his intention to concentrate on enhancing his white-ball skills and overall fitness.
The report additionally highlights uncertainty regarding the issuance of a No-Objection Certificate by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for Rauf to participate in the Big Bash League (BBL). This uncertainty stems from strained relations between the chief selector and Rauf.
The discord between the player and the selector creates a perplexing situation as the Big Bash League approaches. Rauf, considered a marquee player for the Melbourne Stars, may encounter obstacles in securing the necessary clearance to participate in the league.
The BBL is scheduled to commence on December 13 and conclude on February 4, overlapping with all three Tests in Australia, which would have impacted Rauf’s availability had he been part of the Pakistan squad.