LAHORE                  -             Pakistan chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has termed the players’ self-isolation time as the best time to prepare well for the upcoming England series, advising them to practice hard and study English team.

In a virtual media talk here on Tuesday, Misbah said: “I have already asked the players, who are in self-isolation, to keep working on their fitness and also study the strengths and weaknesses of England team. “I have been in touch with most of the players including centrally-contracted players, even trainer is in touch with them and we are sending them plans according to their equipment at home to remain in shape as a team. I want the physical condition of the players to be what is required in Test cricket whenever the game resumes,” he said.

About the fate of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020, the head coach said that the remaining matches should be played instead of declaring the league’s leaders Multan Sultans as it won’t be fair to decide the fate of the PSL-5 in such a way.

Replying to a query regarding his coaching for Islamabad United in the PSL-5, which couldn’t produce fruitful results, Misbah said that he has no regrets in this regard, despite the two-time champions finishing bottom of the table. “I have no regret about coaching Islamabad United. All the teams were equally strong and Islamabad were in the top four till the very end. Overall, Islamabad United played good cricket but some things did not go our way,” he added.

Misbah said his ‘critics have right to say what they want’ but added that criticism does not bother him one bit. “I try and learn from the positives.” He said the bowlers had a hard time in the PSL-5. “Lahore Qalandars’ bowler Dilbar Hussain impressed me a lot and he has potential of becoming a good T20 bowler. But Sharjeel Khan couldn’t impress me as his fitness needs a lot of improvement.”

Misbah suggested extending the time span of the ICC World Test Championship with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing all cricketing activities to a halt and potentially throwing the international schedule haywire. “I just think that all the teams must get equal opportunities in the championship even if matches are rescheduled,” he said.

“Whenever cricket resumes, all the teams should get equal opportunity in the ICC World Test Championship to try to play in the final. The tournament can be extended beyond 2021,” he added. The inaugural Test Championship, according to the original schedule, runs from 2019 to 2021. Pakistan had to postpone one off Test of the championship against Bangladesh at home following the coronavirus outbreak earlier this month.

The ICC has indicated that it would talk to member boards to find a solution to the matches of the championship, which will be hit by the pandemic and one option which will be discussed would be awarding points for cancelled matches. The former captain said that if teams didn’t get equal opportunity to play in the championship, then results wouldn’t be fair. “The tournament should be extended that is my view. That is the only way we can find and end the event in a balanced way. Matches can be rescheduled if the event is extended,” he asserted.

To a query about pay cuts of Pakistani players and officials, if the coronavirus pandemic continues for a long time, the head coach said when the contracts of players expire in June, the board and players will sit down and decide what to do. “When new contracts come, we will see situation and take the right decisions and players will have to understand and it will not be a one-way decision and everyone is mentally ready for this situation,” he asserted.