Asif hopeful for Australia tour says …The ball will talk, not me


Islamabad—Spot-fixing convicted Pakistan fast-bowler Mohammad Asif eyes return to international arena when Pakistan tour Australia at the end of this year.
Asif, who was banned from cricket for bowling deliberate no-balls for money during the infamous 2010 Lord’s Test, boasted his extraordinary bowling performances in the region when he last toured New Zealand and Australia in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Talking to ESPNcricinfo, Asif said: “Hopefully I will do well in Pakistan and get selected for the national team for the tours to New Zealand and Australia.”
The right-arm pacer is currently playing club cricket for Christiania Cricket Club in Oslo to enhance his fitness.
“I got a schedule from the Pakistan cricket academy trainer, so I’m working hard on that and my fitness is getting better day by day,” he said.
“It’s quite difficult after five years to come down and bowl fast, but I’m a different kind of bowler. I’m not like a 100-mile bowler – I’m more dependent on swing and seam, they’re my main weapons.
“My pace was always 130 or 135 kph. This is a good pace for swing. I just need good fitness.”
The 33-year-old has been kept away from competitive cricket at home, as he went unpicked in recent Pakistan Super League and Pakistan Cup events.
His ban expired last year at the end of Pakistan’s domestic cricket season, however, he made his List-A return in the National One-Day Cup, where he picked 7 wickets in as many games at the strike rate of 43.
The performance did not compel the Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises to pick him earlier this year while his partner during the sport-fixing scandal Mohammad Amir became the first Pakistani bowler to bag a T20 hat-trick.
Similarly, Asif was also left out from the five-team Pakistan Cup.
As Asif bowled to the club-level batsmen in Oslo, Amir departed for the British Isles on Saturday to make his Test return at Lord’s, where he played his last Test match.
“I’m happy for him, and for my team it’s a big tour in England. England are playing well now, but we’ve got a good bowling side – better than Sri Lanka’s – so hopefully Amir, Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz will give England a tough time.”
Asif was destructive with the ball when Pakistan last visited the British shores in 2010. He bagged 33 wickets in six Tests against Australia and England.
He believes in his ability to make a convincing return: “In my hands the ball will talk, not me.”
“The dream is just to come back to play for three to four years. I want to play a good standard of cricket again – that’s my dream.”
After his ban expired, Asif was allowed to train along side the national team at the National Cricket Academy, something which makes the 33-year-old hopeful to wear Pakistan colours again.
“I got on with the side very well. It was the same as before 2010 happened. I have the same relationship with them.”
The spot-fixing scandal was not the first instance that saw Asif leaping beyond the ethical and legal parameters.
In his five year long international career till 2010, he had been banned twice for testing positive in dope tests, and he was once jailed in the United Arab Emirates for the possession of recreational drugs.
Asif has become a part of PCB’s anti-corruption campaign and he regularly lectures the aspiring cricketers at home. He has also offered his services to the International Cricket Council.
“I’ve admitted my mistakes. We do lectures in Pakistan with young kids,” he said. “Whenever they want me to go somewhere and lecture about corruption, I’m available. They haven’t asked me yet at the moment, but I told them I will help anytime, whenever they want.”
The right-armer from Sheikhupura has an impressive 106 scalps in his 23 Test outings for Pakistan.—AFP

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