Misbah confirms Wahab's availability for Tests against England
Misbah-ul-Haq has revealed that experienced left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz would be willing to make a comeback to Test cricket if his bowling services are required during the England tour.
Pakistan recently announced an extended 29-player squad for the trip to England comprising three Tests and three T20Is with the selectors opting to stock up the fast bowling unit by naming 10 pacers.
Misbah, who serves as Pakistan's head coach-cum-chief selector, claimed that travel restrictions in the current coronavirus situation prevented the team management from roping in replacements in the event of an injured Test regular.
He thus confirmed that Wahab has conveyed his availability for the Test matches despite the 34-year-old having taken an indefinite break from red-ball cricket last year.
"The inclusion of Wahab and Sohail Khan in the squad also takes into account the factor of playing red-ball cricket in England for almost two months," Misbah told reporters via teleconference.
"Ideally, we would like to focus on the players who are a regular part of the Test team but we need reinforcements as we cannot call in replacements midway through the tour so we have made these provisions keeping in mind the prolonged period."
“I spoke to Wahab about this and he said if needed, he will be available to play the practice and Test matches in England,” he added.
Wahab last appeared in a Test match for Pakistan in October 2018 against Australia in UAE. Although he has played only 27 Tests for his country, his tally of 83 wickets makes him the highest wicket-taker among Pakistani pacers over the last 10 years.
Wahab's untimely decision to step away from red-ball cricket in September 2019 followed Mohammad Amir's shock Test retirement two months earlier.
While the two fast bowlers continued to make themselves available for limited-overs internationals, they faced criticism for their premature exit from the longer version of the game.
Misbah had even gone on to state that the PCB was mulling over a policy to stop players from placing less importance on Test cricket.
"This can be a big problem for Pakistan in the future because when you invest in these players, you expect them to give back but they do not fulfill their commitment and this is not right," he had said in December.
Wahab and Amir were then left out of the Bangladesh T20Is at home in January 2020 whereas their names were omitted from the new central contract list.
Amir pulled out of the upcoming tour of England to spend time with his wife who is due to give birth to their second child in August.
Shedding light on the complications of adjusting to the fresh regulations introduced by the ICC to eradicate the risk of virus transmission, Misbah said players would require time to get used to it.
“Hopefully the five weeks training camp and practice games we have in England before the first test will allow all the bowlers to settle down and also get used to new SOPs like not using saliva to shine the ball, avoiding celebrations after taking a wicket, etc.
“It is not easy for a pace bowler, in particular, to get back into rhythm after three months of not playing cricket or nets at all."
The series against England will be held following the completion of the Test matches between the hosts and West Indies scheduled next month.