Sunday 5 July, 2020

Misbah says behind-closed-doors England series can lift cricket lovers

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.

Misbah-ul-Haq says the prospect of Pakistan facing England behind closed doors is "not ideal" but believes it could provide a much-needed lift for "depressed" cricket lovers.

Pakistan are due to start a three-match Test series against Joe Root's side at Lord's on July 30, with three Twenty20 matches also on the itinerary

The coronavirus pandemic has left that schedule in doubt, with England's Test series versus West Indies already having been postponed.

Spectators appear unlikely to be allowed into venues if and when cricket returns and although Misbah would be disappointed to see the tourists play at empty venues, he thinks international action can help to lift the gloom.

The Pakistan head coach and chief selector told Stats Perform: "It's not ideal obviously, you'd love to go there and perform in an atmosphere with spectators - they are the most important part of any sport.

"It's not ideal, but if you look at it another way, people are mostly locked down in their homes and no sport is going on at the moment.

"They have nothing to watch and mostly COVID-19 news everywhere and people are depressed. In that sort of situation, if we can start sports, if we can start cricket, at least fans can watch that cricket on TV sitting at home and they can enjoy it.

"If you look at in that way, I think if we can do that with proper safety barriers and nobody is in danger, I think we can just go ahead and start from somewhere."

Misbah expects Pakistan players to be ready to hit the ground running when they are able to take to the field again.

He said: "I think in this situation, it's more towards individual responsibility as professionals; what we can do, how we are working.

"We are obviously just trying to communicate to the players that whenever we hit the ground again, the basic thing we need would be fitness. Obviously, if we are fit enough, if we maintain our fitness levels, we can regain our form or skill quickly.

"If we lose our fitness in these isolation periods then it's going to be tough because once we are back on the job it will be difficult for us to either work on the skill or fitness. it's important for the players to physically and mentally prepare yourself."

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