Yasir Arafat, former seam-bowling all-rounder, has accused Pakistan cricket of favoritism and recounted incidents from his early days in the dressing room bloated with senior cricketers.
Arafat, who represented Pakistan in three Tests, 11 One-day Internationals, and 13 T20Is, reckoned that the team-management over the years has been guilty of fast-tracking certain undeserving cricketers at the expense of highly talented and more deserving players.
Arafat recalled his international debut for Pakistan in 2000, adding that the atmosphere of the dressing room and the attitude of senior players made him and his fellow young cricketers feel unwelcome in the set-up.
”When I made my debut in 2000, we had come after playing the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. The Pakistan senior team had come back from Australia at the time and there were a lot of changes being made. They had dropped 5-6 players due to the bad performance,” Yasir Arafat told Kamran Akmal on the latters’ official Youtube channel.
“Even the captaincy, I think, Wasim Akram was doing it (Saeed Anwar was the captain). In that match Younis Khan and another batsman Imran Abbas also made their debuts. The atmosphere was such, and the senior players had such an attitude that you would feel that you are unwelcome in the team,” he added.
”It felt like an alien atmosphere”- Yasir Arafat
Yasir Arafat made his debut at a time when the Pakistan Cricket Team had just returned from a disappointing tour of Australia where they lost the Test series 0-3 as well as the first two finals of the tri-nation ODI series.
The former Pakistan international played his first game in the home series against Sri Lanka and he revealed that it felt like an alien atmosphere, where he was all by himself without any support of senior players or the management.
”It felt like an alien atmosphere where, if you need to perform, you needed to do it all by yourself and you won’t get any support at all,” he said.
Arafat added that even when Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood- two of Pakistan’s finest all-rounders of that era- weren’t available, other cricketers were fast-tracked due to their connections.
”As far as Pakistan cricket is concerned, we haven’t had better all-rounders than Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood. But even when they were not there, other cricketers were fast-tracked based on someone’s liking, someone who had played two matches of first-class cricket or not played at all. I didn’t understand why I was not in their good books.” he recalled.
Yasir Arafat claimed a total of 29 wickets and scored 390 runs across all formats in his international career, which came to an end against India in the 2012 T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.