World Test C’ship should be extended - Azhar Ali backs Misbah’s suggestion

The Pakistan captain expressed confidence ICC would do the needful.

Azhar Ali... “The Test Championship was a long competition anyway, so I don’t think it would be a big deal to extend it if the series cannot be held in time.”   -  AP

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali has backed head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq’s suggestion that the World Test Championship should be extended in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He believes cricketing action should return in future “even it is behind closed doors” but without compromising on the health of the players.

“If, hopefully, in the near future cricket is possible and the health of people is not compromised, I’m sure every cricketer will say we should get cricket back on, even if it is behind closed doors,” Azhar said in a video conference with reporters.

“There is no sport on TV right now that people can watch. They will be happy to get sport back on TV. People’s health is more important, but if we can get sport going without imperilling that, I’d support it.”

Not a big deal

Azhar expressed confidence ICC would do the needful. “I’m sure the ICC will look at this. The Test Championship was a long competition anyway, so I don’t think it would be a big deal to extend it if the series cannot be held in time; I’d support extending the Test championship,” he added.

Azhar’s statement came after Misbah called for an extension of the World Test Championship as and when cricket resumed in order to provide a fair and level-playing field to all teams. The forced break in the cricketing calendar has allowed Ali to look back on his nascent captaincy tenure, which started only in last October when he replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Mixed outing

So far, Ali has witnessed a mixed outing as captain, which includes a 2-0 loss in Australia, followed by a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka at home and a comprehensive victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test at Rawalpindi before the series was called off because of the pandemic. “I did want to bring fresh ideas into the team when appointed, and remove the fear factor that players have,” he said.

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“The players should feel free to express themselves. In a team culture, the captain bears great responsibility for the sort of culture they develop. I want to ensure that regardless of whether I’m in the dressing room or not, the environment is such that everyone thinks about the good of the team. Just as important, we want the dressing room to be a relaxed, not a tense place. We’ve seen - and not just in Pakistan - that when the team is under pressure, the dressing room becomes a very tense place. Decision-making is affected by tension and pressure,” Azhar added.

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