LAHORE               -           Pakistan veteran fast bowler Wahab Riaz has said that if his services are required in England, he will be ready for Test return.

“My Test comeback will be difficult as I have not played recently but Pakistan needs me right now and I want to play for my country. I am professional enough to know how to carry myself for what format. I am ready for Test return and I will play if required,” said Wahab this during a videoconference held here on Monday.

“I got a call from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) asking if I will be available to play Test cricket if required on replacement basis or if the team needs it. I straight away agreed because my priority is to play for Pakistan,” he added.

The pacer credited the then-management for advising him against the option as he now has the opportunity to represent the country once more. “When I spoke to the PCB last year about not playing Tests, they told me to take some time off and think about it. However, these are unusual circumstances and no one can come and go. Priority is to play for Pakistan and I will do what I can for my country.”

Wahab, 34-year-old, said that his on and off Test career left his confidence in shambles and forced him to opt for early retirement. “It was between 2016 and 2019, I had played only in patches. I played one Test in Sri Lanka and performed well and then had a gap. Then I played against Australia. I thought may I be not capable or good enough to play Test cricket for Pakistan anymore. I had communicated to the management that I will give up Test cricket and concentrate on white-ball cricket.”

The PCB couldn’t hold a training camp of the national team before leaving for England due to rapid growth in the Covid-19 cases in the city. Wahab said: “Individually, we have been doing training at home. We have been away from the field but our early departure to England will provide us a chance to adjust to the conditions. No player has played cricket since March so this is an opportunity for us and we will try to win.”

Replying to a query regarding central contracts, the pacer said: “The central contract is a security for the player that he will play for Pakistan. The central contract is important but it’s not such a big deal for me rather it’s secondary. If I perform this year, I will get it again next year. But my priority is to play for Pakistan and help my team record crucial victories.”

To another query about the ICC new rules, according to which the bowlers are not allowed to use saliva for shinning, Wahab said: “Yes, the bowlers use saliva to shine the ball but we can use our sweat as well so this is not such a big problem. The England-West Indies series is also going to happen and we will learn a lot from it and see how they take care of the ball.”

The fast bowler said that they are going to England with good combination and they will try to win the series. “England has always been a good place for Pakistan to play cricket. The youngsters will also be very motivated and ambitious. They can be the x-factor as well. I think it’s a good thing that we are going with a good combination and we will try to win the series this time, not draw it.”

Supporting the youngsters in the national squad, Wahab said: “It’s a great opportunity for the youngsters and as a group, we need to support them, it will be a difficult tour for them but this is how you build a team. Even if they don’t perform on this tour, we still need to support them because they are the future.”

The pacer said that he is willing to serve the country and he will try to deliver in whatever format his services are required. “I want to set an example that when something is required, you have to do things for Pakistan, not for yourself. The color of the ball doesn’t matter and that is why I took this decision and I am ready to play Test cricket if required,” Wahab concluded.