Pakistan pacer Mohammad Irfan has said that the six-month ban felt like “six years” and that time was tought for him. The fast bowler was handed a six-month suspension after he failed to report two approaches made by bookies during the Pakistan Super League. He was not allowed to play any form of cricket during the ban period of one-year but now his contract with WAPDA, a domestic team, has resumed.
In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Irfan said that he had no fixing allegations but regrets not reporting the two incidents during the PSL. He also added that people still like him.
“The last six months have been very tough on me. In fact, it felt like six years, during which I incurred great losses,” Irfan was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “Indeed, it was my mistake, and I admitted it instantly, but there was no fixing allegations against me. But, in all this, I am thankful the situation wasn’t any worse.
“I was actually working in my private gym at home to keep myself fit. But I had been training privately, so I hope things will go well. These six months, I think I can view it as a rest period which will help me rejuvenate.”
The PSL fixing scandal broke last earlier this year in which two players — Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif — were banned for five years apart from the fine. Mohammad Nawaz was also under scanner and was banned for two months. Irfan was handed a six-month ban.
“I regret that I didn’t report it and I have realised how serious it is if you don’t report a corrupt approach. But I am still very much accepted and people still like me. I don’t want to go into details about whether the punishment was harsh. There were reasons I didn’t report instantly but I did reject them [the bookies] straightaway.
“After my mother and father’s death, I was lost and wasn’t able to decide what to do, hence the delay. Then, I went to the PSL, where the PCB came up with some information and since it was correct [to report], I did so, and I am happy that I am back after a minor ban and still have a chance to revive myself.”
Talking about his time off cricket, Irfan said that he was playing too much cricket at the start of his career and it was nice to take a break adding that in Pakistan there no one to manage him and the only help game from Grant Luden.
“In the last six months, I have been resting with no workload, and that has really helped me,” Irfan said. “I got time to take a break from cricket; otherwise, the early part of my career, I was playing a lot. Due to my height and body structure, I get tired early, and need more time for recovery. In Pakistan, there was no one to manage me, but as soon as an English trainer [Grant Luden] came, I did exactly what he told me to do which really helped me.”
Irfan has played only four Tests for Pakistan. In the limited-overs cricket, he has played 60 ODIs and 20 T20Is since his debut in 2010 but injuries have proved to be more consistent in his career than performances. Pakistan cricket team has made the fitness standards higher for its players and Irfan may find it difficult to make a comeback. Young fast bowlers with encouraging performances can also be a roadblock.
“For now I am not really worried about the competition because I am unique because of my height. But over the last few months, I have seen there are a lot of young bowlers who have come in, which is actually a good sign for the country. And playing with competition around makes it more fun,” he said.
Irfan’s captain at WAPDA, Salman Butt also praised the bowler and said that he has observed Irfan over the last six months adding that the bowler looks determined.
“He has done well in the nets and in practice matches ahead of the tournament,” Butt said. “This is the first time I have seen him over the last six months and I believed he bowled well. He looks determined and we will try to use him in a way not to risk injury. We will manage his workload and use him in important games. He did well last year and I hope he responds well this year too.
“Obviously he is not somebody who can bowl longer spells, but somebody who with short bursts can turn a game and we will try to take advantage of that. If he is used sensibly and kept fit, he is definitely a very good prospect for any form of the game.”
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