Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz said Monday he has agreed to return to Test cricket if required for a series in England.
The 34-year-old Riaz has taken 83 wickets in just 27 Test matches since making his debut in 2010. He was among 29 players named for the three Tests and three Twenty20s in August and September after the Pakistan Cricket Board decided to send an extended squad in case a player is ruled out due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board communicated with me to play Test cricket (in England), if required, and to play for Pakistan is always a priority so I said yes without even thinking,” Riaz told reporters during a video teleconference organized by the PCB.
Riaz took an indefinite break from Test cricket last year just before Pakistan toured Australia. Mohammad Amir, another left-arm quick bowler, also quit before that tour and the pair’s absence didn’t go over well with head coach Misbah-ul-Haq or fast-bowling coach Waqar Younis.
But Riaz defended his decision because he had played just four Test matches in three years despite being a regular member of Pakistan ODI and Twenty20 teams.
“The priority was not different last year,” Riaz explained.
“I haven’t been playing Test cricket regularly in the last three, four years before this management arrived so the priority was to focus on white ball cricket.”
Riaz also lost his place in the centrally contracted players this year, but for him playing for Pakistan was more important than looking at the contract.
“Of course central contact gives security to a player,” he said.
“But playing for Pakistan is more important to me and I have got this opportunity once again by being selected in the team.” When asked whether it would be only a one-off Test series, Riaz said he had to see how things go in England.
“I know playing in England is not easy,” he said.
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) June 15, 2020
“Getting an opportunity to play for Pakistan in red ball cricket is also a challenge for me which I have to accept and I accepted it.
“As a senior player, I wanted to create an example … because it all has to be for Pakistan, not for yourself and the color of the ball does not matter.”
The rise in COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has forced the PCB to cancel a training camp of the team and the team is expected to leave for England in early July to get enough time to get used to the conditions.