LAHORE             -         Pakistan chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has said that England series is a great opportunity for youngsters to excel.

Talking to the sports journalists during an online press conference here Friday, Misbah said: “England series is though ‘challenging’ for us yet it is also an opportunity for our players especially the youngsters to give out their best and emerge as heroes of the nation.”

Misbah said that every Test match is very important. “Obviously, becoming No. 1 Test team is our main target and hopefully, we will achieve this feat once again. The series is very important for us so we have tried to bring our best team to England so that we may perform up to the mark and try our best to beat England in England, as it will help us improve our ranking and boost the team’s morale.

“I and Dr Sohail Saleem have had interactions with the players on the tour and everyone understands the situation. We have prepared them for every situation like a player testing positive or showing mild symptoms: having to train in isolation for four weeks, staying in a 14-day quarantine, playing before empty stadiums and adapting to the on-field [Standard Operating Procedures],” he added.

The head coach said that the players are eager to get back to the field after the long break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic. “This is an away series so anyhow it will be difficult. Whether it be in England, South Africa or Australia, the home team always has an advantage. Especially considering the fact that they have played a series before us,” he said.

“That is why the one month that we get over there before the series, we have to use it very professionally. Here at home, we have had no time to do any preparations, the players are not able to do any sort of practice related to the game. But one good thing is that the players will be eager to play. They have not played for many months and in this situation players will be raring to go. So mentally they will be very focused and keen to deliver,” he added.

Misbah admitted that the West Indies series would help the national team a lot in learning how to tackle hosts England. “We will be keeping an eye on the West Indies series. There will be a lot of takeaways from how the players play in that series and we will try to apply those in our camp. We won’t have any opposition to practice against but there will be practice matches among ourselves,” he said.

He also welcomed the inclusion of Younis Khan as the batting coach of the team and said the players in the side will learn a lot from him. “I have played a lot with Younis and the good thing is many players have played alongside him and they understand each other. Most of us understand his mentality, game plan, work ethics and planning.

“Younis will be a big help for us and we know he will give 100 percent. He will be a big help to me and we can share workload during our camp in England and it will be easier for me to handle 29 players,” he added. With Haris Sohail pulling out of the tour, Fawad Alam had a good opportunity to shine for Pakistan, felt Misbah. “Look if we have picked Fawad in the team it is because we believe he can play at the top level.”

The chief selector said that left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz told him he was ready to make a return to Test cricket if his services were required during the England tour. Mohammad Amir pulled out of the tour as his wife was expected to give birth to their second child around August but Wahab was named on Friday in the 29-member squad announced for the full tour, starting next month. “Yes I spoke to Wahab about this and he said if needed, he will be available to play the Test matches in England,” Misbah concluded.