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  1. #1
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    "It's always best to retire with respect rather than being forced out" : Azhar Ali

    Former Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali believes Somerset possess "tremendous ability in all formats" but he is doubly determined to help the west country outfit claim their maiden County Championship title.

    Azhar scored 402 runs at an average of 33.50 last summer, but couldn't drive Somerset past champions Surrey, with the county finishing runners-up for the second time in three years.

    The 34-year-old is available for the duration of both the Specsavers County Championship and the Royal London One-Day Cup, having retired from ODI cricket, and he told Saj Sadiq he has very clear goals for the coming months…




    Azhar Ali: "I don't see any weaknesses in the Somerset squad this season"


    What brings you back to Somerset for another stint in county cricket?

    Azhar:
    "The biggest thing for me is the opportunity to learn from team-mates, from opponents, and, also, it's another great chance to play high-quality cricket in unfamiliar conditions. In addition, it's a chance to share your experience and knowledge with your team-mates, so it's really a two-way learning exercise. On top of that, county cricket is a highly competitive form of cricket, and it's a chance to keep your practice levels up and fine-tune yourself in between international matches."



    Azhar says he is looking to learn new skills as well as share his experience


    What are your targets with Somerset this season?

    Azhar:
    "The main target has to be to win the County Championship, and that is something that I hope I can help Somerset achieve this time around. I've arrived early for the start of the season ahead to acclimatise, and I can't wait for the season to start. I think the Somerset squads are very strong in all three formats, and I believe we can challenge for honours in all three formats."


    Do you think Somerset have the strength in depth?

    Azhar:
    "Yes - it's superb. What I really feel is outstanding for our side, and a factor that could prove crucial, are the fitness levels of the squad. Some teams may be more suited to either white-ball cricket or red-ball cricket, but I honestly believe that this squad has tremendous ability in all formats. I don't see any weaknesses in the squad, and the competition for places and the skill level in all facets from what I have seen is excellent. We had a good season last time around and we were there or thereabouts, but I feel if we make some slight improvements, we could be challenging for the top position this year."



    Azhar is confident Somerset have the strength in depth to compete in all formats


    What can Pakistani domestic cricket take from County cricket?

    Azhar:
    "There are lots of positive ideas and changes being spoken about for Pakistan domestic cricket and I feel that is a good thing. It's mainly about improving the quality on the domestic circuit and nurturing and guiding the abundance of talent we have in Pakistan. I'm very optimistic about the future of Pakistan domestic cricket and am hopeful that there will be some positive changes."


    It seems, doesn't it, that against-all-odds Pakistan continues to produce young and raw cricketing talent?

    Azhar:
    "That's very true and we have seen that recently in the Pakistan Super League with Mohammad Hasnain and Umer Khan. The more opportunities are given to young upcoming cricketers in Pakistan, the better the standard will become and this talent will become polished much quicker. These guys are the future and Pakistan cricket needs them to serve the country for a long time."


    As a current Test cricketer, are you concerned about the future of this format?

    Azhar:
    "No, I think the concerns are being exaggerated. If you look at crowds in Australia and England, they are still huge and stadiums are packed. Yes, in some parts of the world like the sub-continent attendances are poor and of course in the UAE the local population are limited in which times and days they can attend matches so that affects attendances. People are saying that the popularity of Test cricket is being affected by the other formats gaining popularity, but I feel that Test cricket is still a very popular format and remains strong in the eyes of cricket fans around the world."


    Is day/night the future of Test cricket?

    Azhar:
    "I think it's good that the people who run cricket are trying new ideas and being innovative. However, despite enjoying a good performance in day/night Test cricket and experiencing it in a positive way, I am someone who prefers Test cricket played in the traditional way."


    Describe the pain of not being able to play international cricket in Pakistan.

    Azhar:
    "People should not underestimate just how difficult it is. You are constantly playing cricket away from home venues, away from your friends, away from your family and your fans. Playing in front of your own fans, your countrymen is what every sportsperson yearns and dreams of and you get a lift from playing in your own country in front of packed stadiums as we have just seen in Karachi at the Pakistan Super League. Only those who cannot play in front of their own crowds know just how tough this is and how heartbreaking it is."


    After the successful hosting of PSL matches in Karachi, do you believe Pakistan is ready to host international cricket?

    Azhar:
    "The signs are very positive and I hope that the world of cricket is now ready to trust Pakistan and tour there. We have seen a World XI play in Pakistan, Windies also tour Pakistan and of course the hugely successful 8 PSL matches in Karachi that saw many overseas players, ICC officials and commentators visit the city. The signs are great and I feel that a positive message has gone around the world regarding international cricket returning to Pakistan soon."


    Why have Pakistan plummeted down the ICC Test rankings?

    Azhar:
    "You come across good and bad phases as a team in any sport and there will be times when you struggle. There is a lot of potential in the team and I think it's only a matter of time before we get our act together again get back to winning ways. We have shown in the past that we can win Test matches in UAE and away from home too, but then we lost two very senior players in Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan and I have also been out of form, and I feel that has hit the team hard. Admittedly, I have struggled for form after my knee injury and you could say that these things have all come together and had a big impact on our performances in Test cricket. I think we are over the worst and we will regain our confidence and get back to winning Test matches in the near future."


    Critics feel that your knee injury will mean that you will never be the same batsmen you once were.

    Azhar:
    "I don't think that is the case. With a knee injury, it will always flare up now and then, but I feel fine now and am raring to go again. Sometimes form can be related to fitness, but I'm happy with my recovery from injury. I thought I batted well in New Zealand and regained my form there, but then I struggled in South Africa, which was disappointing. But I'm here at Somerset and it's a good opportunity for me to keep working on my form and fitness during an international break."


    Win at home and lose away from home seems to be the motto for Test teams nowadays. Why do you think that is?

    Azhar:
    "If I look at the example of Pakistan, then that is down to the fact that we have a number of new players in our Test team and many of them have not toured places like South Africa before and that's why we struggled there. In fact, only three members of our Test squad in South Africa had toured there previously. In addition, we have not been having many 'A' tours to places such as South Africa and that is so important. However, now with more 'A' tours planned I feel that the performance level of the Test team will improve as players will have more experience of different conditions around the world. I think it's easy to criticise teams for not performing in overseas conditions, but also some issues are historic and Pakistan has never really performed well in South Africa over the years."


    With the World Cup around the corner, have you any regrets about retiring from ODI cricket?

    Azhar:
    "No - I'm a firm believer that whatever happens, it happens for the best. Of course, you want to play as much as you can for your country, but when guys like Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, and Shan Masood are performing and playing well, then they deserve to play in the World Cup ahead of me.

    "In my case, when Fakhar and Imam were doing so well, I thought it was the right time to call it a day in the 50-over format, and at the same time rest myself for Test cricket. I think we should all back the likes of Fakhar and Imam, and wish them well at the World Cup. I think it's always best to retire with respect rather than being forced out. When you are playing Test cricket, you don't want to focus on making a comeback in other formats, so I made a clear-minded decision to concentrate only on Test cricket in future, and I am comfortable with this decision."


    Pakistan stunned the cricketing world in 2017 to lift the Champions Trophy. Can they do the same this year at the World Cup?

    Azhar:
    "I actually believe that Pakistan has a better chance to win the World Cup this time around than we did two years ago at the Champions Trophy. Back in 2017, nobody gave Pakistan a chance, but this time around people are mentioning Pakistan as potential winners of the World Cup. I think Pakistan has a very good chance, providing the team clicks. The combination for Pakistan is very good, but it's all about clicking and peaking at the right time, as we did in 2017. The World Cup this time around is a long tournament, so you have a bit of time to find your feet and peak.

    "Pakistan is strong in all areas, but the key will be getting a solid base from the top-order batsmen and getting runs on the board for the bowlers to work with. Pakistan's bowlers are always strong, and this time is no different. As we saw at the Champions Trophy, you can't write off Pakistan in any tournament. I'm very hopeful and think they will do well, as I think they have a stronger squad than they had at the 2017 Champions Trophy."


    Who do you see as the main contenders for the World Cup?

    Azhar:
    "I think India, Pakistan, Australia, and South Africa are the main challengers, although I don't think New Zealand should be written off, as they always tend to perform well at World Cups. I think the winner will come from one of these teams. But then this is cricket, and anything is possible, and whoever runs into form and peaks at the right time will come out as champions."

    https://www.skysports.com/cricket/ne...county-formats


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  2. #2
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    Good luck to him at Somerset.

  3. #3
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    Well done. Best of Luck.

  4. #4
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    If he flops with Somerset then he should be dropped from Pakistan Test team. Didn't do anything in the Tests in SA

  5. #5
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    Unlike Misbah, Azhar does care about dignity and leaving at right time. Its very nice of him saying positive things about the younger players who took his spot in ODIs, Fakhar and Imam.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by moghul View Post
    Unlike Misbah, Azhar does care about dignity and leaving at right time. Its very nice of him saying positive things about the younger players who took his spot in ODIs, Fakhar and Imam.
    Lets see if he actually does the deed. I have my doubts judging by how he kept on sticking to the ODI team despite the disastrous results.

  7. #7
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    Him and shafiq must go from Tests - Saad Ali and Usman saluhuddin come in.

  8. #8
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    Anyone else got the feeling that he is going to be forced out of the test team?

  9. #9
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    He's saying that but he should retire now technically his game has gone south and it looks like only in UAE can he be effective that too at a 40 strike rate.

  10. #10
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    I live in Canada; My heart lives in Pakistan
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    Practice what you preach and leave us from Tests.


    Hai yeh Josh-e-Junoon, hai yeh apna yaqeen, ke jo tum mein hai dum, woh kisi mein nahin!

  11. #11
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    Dont come back near Pakistani team

  12. #12
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    Perhaps he should take his own advice and retire from Tests as well. He is finished.

  13. #13
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    The good boy/good girl dilemma. I dont understand why these guys always run after the approval of others.

    Why respect of others matter to him. No one cares about him. People will bash you for every little reason, hence it dosen't mean you make decisions like retirement on the basis of other peoples liking or dislking.

    He made a foolish decision, should had continued playing List A, and if got the opportunity play on ODI cricket. Was a good ODI batsmen.

    Even if he didnt get ODI cricket, LIST A would had provided him good practice.


    "Life is Pain"
    ~House~

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Major View Post
    The good boy/good girl dilemma. I dont understand why these guys always run after the approval of others.

    Why respect of others matter to him. No one cares about him. People will bash you for every little reason, hence it dosen't mean you make decisions like retirement on the basis of other peoples liking or dislking.

    He made a foolish decision, should had continued playing List A, and if got the opportunity play on ODI cricket. Was a good ODI batsmen.

    Even if he didnt get ODI cricket, LIST A would had provided him good practice.
    Hes not an ODI batter . He lacks the shot range. Bowlers can tie him up easily and he is poor at strike rotation

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hasan123 View Post
    Hes not an ODI batter . He lacks the shot range. Bowlers can tie him up easily and he is poor at strike rotation
    hes an odi player. He has a good List A avg

    Plus, he played a good innings in the Champions Trophy final aswell


    "Life is Pain"
    ~House~

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Major View Post
    hes an odi player. He has a good List A avg

    Plus, he played a good innings in the Champions Trophy final aswell
    No he is not.
    The CT FINAL was meant to be. It was a super day and team PAK was on a mission. There was no stopping the green machine that day.

    It was ultra super saiyan level stuff.

  17. #17
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    So when is he retiring from Test cricket then? As I don't think he has much days left before being thrown out of Test Squad.

    Also, our next series is the starting of World Test Championship for us and we can't take it lightly, rather a strong team needs to be built.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Major View Post
    hes an odi player. He has a good List A avg

    Plus, he played a good innings in the Champions Trophy final aswell
    I don't care about his list A average. I have seen him bat. He can't place balls into gaps. He can't rotate the strike. He is no use in LO.

  19. #19
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    Hes nothing to offer the test side anymore as a batsmen, we can find someone else to perform nightwatchmen role in test cricket going forward.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arsalan Pro View Post
    So when is he retiring from Test cricket then? As I don't think he has much days left before being thrown out of Test Squad.

    Also, our next series is the starting of World Test Championship for us and we can't take it lightly, rather a strong team needs to be built.
    Exactly: all his contemporaries like Cook and De Villiers have already retired.

    Goodbye.

  21. #21
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    Nothing on the embarrassment of the SA tour?


    Politics trumps intelligence (pun intended).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haroon786 View Post
    Nothing on the embarrassment of the SA tour?
    Read it again.



  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Read it again.
    Was referring to no questions specifically asked to Azhar about his tour of SA.


    Politics trumps intelligence (pun intended).

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haroon786 View Post
    Was referring to no questions specifically asked to Azhar about his tour of SA.
    I dangled the carrot.....

    Why have Pakistan plummeted down the ICC Test rankings?
    Critics feel that your knee injury will mean that you will never be the same batsmen you once were.



  25. #25
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    What raw cricketing talent have we produced in the last 2 years in terms of batting?

  26. #26
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    Azhar Ali making some points in his recent performances for Somerset!


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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    Azhar Ali making some points in his recent performances for Somerset!


    110 runs in 93 balls....





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  28. #28
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    I genuinely love this player. True servant of Pakistan and he always gives his 100%

    Hopefully we won't miss him in the WC

  29. #29
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    Let's be honest, Azhar is performing in a tier below world level. He has been tried in odis enough times. As much as I like him he can't be in the current squad.

  30. #30
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post

    "Babar Azam is a wonderful bloke, he is a nice guy and a wonderful batsman who has been performing consistently, especially in white-ball cricket"

    "He's the number one batsman in T20Is and hopefully he can bring that form to Taunton and hopefully we can use his abilities for our good"

    "Pakistan will be underdogs definitely as far as the World Cup is concerned, but I know their strength and we have been like this before but we can surprise everyone"

    "Hopefully we can surprise everyone again"


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  32. #32
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    It must not be forgotten how inept he looked in the tour to South Africa being such a senior player. This is why the likes of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq keep getting away with poor form, because of the huge gaps between our test matches and by the time the next test series comes 6-7 months down the line, these two are the first names in the teams again.

  33. #33
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    so who else missed him today?


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