Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz has decided to take an indefinite break from red-ball cricket in order to focus on limited-overs formats. He has also withdrawn from the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, just two days before the start of the tournament, where he was set to represent his domestic side Southern Punjab.
Wahab, who made his Test debut for Pakistan in 2010 and has played 27 Tests, also added he wanted to focus on regaining fitness levels required for the longer format. Since January 2018, the 34-year-old has played only five red-ball matches, one Test and four first-class games.
Wahab was also absent from Southern Punjab’s camp in Lahore, where the side was preparing for their opening game against Central Punjab.
“After reviewing my past couple of years’ performances in red-ball cricket and the upcoming limited-overs cricket, I have decided to take time off from first-class cricket,” Wahab said. “During this period, I will like to focus on 50-over and 20-over cricket, and continue to access my fitness for the longer version of the game. At a stage I feel I cannot only return but also perform with the red-ball, I would make myself available.
After a lot of thinking and discussions with my family and board, I have decided to take a break from red-ball cricket and maintain my fitness and focus on the shorter format for my country. It was a tough decision and I appreciate my Board’s support and guidance during this time
— Wahab Riaz (@WahabViki) September 12, 2019
“The PCB had been trying to convince me to pursue my career with red-ball, but today I met them to convey my decision. I am grateful for their understanding and support.”
Wahab was the casualty of former coach Mickey Arthur’s drive towards a high-performance culture within the Pakistan squad, where he was criticised for his work ethic, with Arthur even saying he had not won them a game in two years. After being ignored for the tour of Ireland and England in 2018, Wahab played in the Dubai Test against Australia where he finished wicketless. But just a year after Arthur seemingly signalled the end of his career, Wahab was added to their World Cup squad, nearly two years after his last ODI. He finished 11 wickets in eight games in the tournament.
But now, with this break and him missing the first-class season, his Test chances appear slim. Pakistan, in the next 12 months, are scheduled to host two Tests against Sri Lanka, two against Bangladesh, and play away series in Australia and England.
Wahab was earlier handed out a category B central contract, but it is understood he is likely to be demoted in due course following this announcement.