DateLine: 25th April 2012
Reproduced courtesy Cricistan.com
Lahore: 7 players reported to the NCA today to undergo strict fitness tests. Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Yousuf, Sohail Tanvir, Aizaz Cheema and Mohammad Irfan were the ones tested.
Speaking exclusively to Cricistan.com, Mohammad Irfan said "It was hard work for all of us and we were really put us through our paces today. From what I observed we all passed and did well overall. It was good to see Yousuf bhai and he looked to be really fit, he has obviously been keeping in shape."
I congratulated Irfan on his performance and asked him what areas he was told that he (personally) needed to improve in, Irfan replied "I was told that I needed to work on my agility which will help in my fielding."
Irfan is currently staying in Lahore and attending the National Cricket Academy to work on his fitness and bowling. Standing at 6 foot 10 inches tall, Irfan always stands out to anyone who passes him by but earlier this month he stood out to new coach Dav Whatmore for an entirely different reason.
Whatmore had been part of the Kolkata Knight Riders coaching squad when Irfan went to Sri Lanka for his KKR trials. In fact Whatmore and the KKR coaching team had been so impressed with Irfan's bowling that they had signed him up on the spot.
However due to the ongoing issues between the PCB and the BCCI, no Pakistani players are taking part in the IPL and so Irfan never got to play.
When Whatmore saw Irfan at the NCA he remembered him from the KKR trials and asked him about what had been happening in his life.
"He (Whatmore) asked me why I hadn't played for Pakistan again and he wanted to know about how I had got from Sri Lanka to England to play those two one day games. He was saying that it didn't sound like I should have played straight away and that maybe I should have waited to acclimatise myself and get over the lag from the long journey." Irfan told Cricistan.com.
Irfan then explained that he had thanked Whatmore for remembering him and how Dav had told him that if he put in the hard work then he had a good chance to play for Pakistan.
"He (Whatmore) told me that I should try and bowl just like I did in Sri Lanka, that I should bowl the way he saw me bowling when we first met. He said that if I could bowl like that and learn to take full advantage of my height, then I would be a great asset." Irfan stated to Cricistan.com
During the tour to England Irfan clocked 89 mph (143 kph) on more than one occasion and apart from a terrible couple of overs (when every Paksitani bowler was getting mauled) he bowled reasonably well. The main reason for him not being reselected is generally thought to be his recurring cramps which were put down to a lack of physical fitness but Irfan feels it was due to jet lag.
Given Pakistan's current paucity of pace options, it's good to see another name back in the reckoning and it probably helps that the coach has seen you bowling at your best too.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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