MANCHESTER: Pakistani all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said the time was finally right for him to sample county cricket at 38 after signing up to bolster Middlesex’s push for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.
The all-rounder has featured for T20 franchises in six different countries around the world, but his spell with the Seaxes represents his first taste of the English domestic game. Hafeez, whose schedule has eased up following his decision to retire from Test cricket at the end of last year, said: “To be honest I was so busy in my career, because I was playing three formats over the last 10 years.
“It was really tough for me to get time to play for a county – there were a couple of offers, but I couldn’t get there. Finally, this is the right time and playing for Middlesex is one of the things I feel really proud of.
“I’m happy to be here – the boys are really welcoming and I’m enjoying it. So far, winning the game has been the missing part but, as a professional, there’s always a challenge waiting and I think it brings the best out of you,” Hafeez quoted as saying.
Hafeez has brought a wealth of experience to Middlesex, having played 218 one-day internationals and 89 T20 internationals since making his Pakistan debut in 2003. His initial impression of the English game has been favourable, notably the close-knit nature of the squad at Middlesex which he feels is sometimes lacking in overseas leagues.
“It’s a little bit different because it’s more about the guys who are already here playing together rather than overseas players coming in and making a franchise team,” Hafeez observed. “This is one of the good things in the Vitality Blast – you’re developing a team. Everyone knows each other and there are only one or two overseas players coming in and adding value. I feel this is a very good way of moving forward.
Obviously this is one of the tournaments everyone wants to play in and you need to be on top of your game to perform well here,” he asserted.
Hafeez has already put in some solid performances in his first two games for Middlesex, although heavy defeats to Hampshire and Sussex mean they may need to win their final two South Group fixtures to clinch a place in the knockout stage.
As well as opening the bowling with tidy spells of off-spin, Hafeez top scored for his new side with 34 and 48 respectively – the latter innings, against Sussex, reuniting him with Eoin Morgan as the pair shared a third-wicket partnership of 77.