Updated February 21st, 2024 at 17:17 IST

'This was SHOCKING': Hafeez's BIG REVELATION on Babar Azam's absurd plan for Pakistan players

Following disappointing tours of Australia and New Zealand, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) opted not to extend Mohammad Hafeez's contract.

Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam | Image:PCB/ICC
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Former Pakistan cricket director Mohammad Hafeez has alleged that former team captain Babar Azam, along with coaches Mickey Arthur and Grant Bradburn, prioritized team fitness the least in the build-up to the ODI World Cup in India. During their campaign under then-skipper Babar, Pakistan failed to progress to the semifinals, suffering defeats in five out of nine league matches and ultimately finishing fifth.

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Mohammad Hafeez reveals absurd plan of Babar Azam

Babar Azam was asked to step down as Pakistan skipper across all three formats. New captains and coaches were appointed following the humiliating campaign in the World Cup. Mohammad Hafeez assumed the role of team director in late 2023 and was sent to Australia and New Zealand for a Test and T20I series respectively.

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However, upon his appointment, Pakistan endured a whitewash in the three-Test series in Australia, followed by a 4-1 defeat in the five-match T20I series against New Zealand. Following disappointing tours of Australia and New Zealand, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) opted not to extend Hafeez's contract. Hafeez has returned to his familiar role of TV commentary, which he had been actively involved in since retiring from cricket.

"When I took over as director (in 2023) and we reached Australia, I told the team trainer to give me a report on the players' fitness standards and prepare a new fitness regimen. He told me that the former captain (Babar) and head coach (Arthur) had told him six months ago that fitness is not the priority at the moment and let the players play as they wanted," Hafeez said on the ARY Sports channel.

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"This was shocking news for me when he (team trainer) told me that he was told to not check the players' fitness. Fitness in modern-day cricket is top priority for all teams." Hafeez alleged that when tests were carried out on some players in Australia, they couldn't even finish a two-km run," he added. 

"The players' skin fold (body fat level) was one-and-a-half points above the normal limit," he alleged.

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Azhar Ali, former Test captain and one of the experts on the TV show, reminisced about Pakistan's approach to fitness during the Champions Trophy in England in 2017. He highlighted that fitness was paramount during that tournament, to the extent that a player, Umar Akmal, was sent back by the coaching staff for failing a fitness test.

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Under the leadership of coach Mickey Arthur, the team achieved victory in the Champions Trophy, notably defeating India in the final match.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published February 21st, 2024 at 16:57 IST