Former captain Rashid Latif says the outcome of Pakistan’s upcoming tour of England is hard to predict as the teams are playing under unprecedented circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pakistan team, which is to depart for England on June 28, was hit hard on Monday with three players testing positive for coronavirus. The first of the three Tests begins on July 30 at Lord’s while the three-match T20 International series begins at Headingley on August 29.
“It is difficult to predict whether Pakistan can win the series or not because this time conditions and environment is very different from previous tours,” Latif said.
“And don’t forget, even last time our batting generally struggled without Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in England,” he added. Pakistan won the first Test at Lord’s but lost the second at Headingley in 2018.
The 51-year-old Latif, who played 37 Tests between 1992 and 2003, does not see any management problems during the upcoming tour despite the squad having 29 players and 14 officials.
“I don’t think (to have problems) because (head coach) Misbah is a calculated and calm personality who never shuts the door on anyone. And I think because of this coronavirus pandemic I think such a large squad is necessitated,” he said.
The former wicketkeeper-batsman also felt that the partnership of Misbah and batting coach Younis Khan would be of big help to the team in England as both had a good understanding . Many a times they have come together to rescue Pakistan in difficult circumstances.
“I think they will carry their batting partnership into coaching as well. I was disappointed that the PCB didn’t hire Younis as head coach of the junior team. But even now I believe Younis has much to give to Pakistan cricket and should be given a long term contract as it will benefit the batsmen a lot, he said.
Latif said with no crowd pressure — as the matches will be played without spectators — it would be intriguing to see how both teams cope in the Test and T20 series.
“Crowd pressure does affect the players but playing in front of empty stadiums for full five days will be a totally different experience.” Latif also does not see senior player Sarfaraz Ahmed featuring in the Test series but said he may play in the T20 matches.
“It will be an odd situation for him having to sit on the bench after having led the country in all three formats. But, it is something he has to get used to. He is a fighter and I am sure he will make a comeback.