LAHORE - Pakistan cricket team head coach Dav Whatmore Friday said that Zimbabwe tour would help in preparing well for a bit tougher South Africa tour. 

Speaking to the media here at the Zimbabwe tour training camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), Whatmore said: “The Zimbabwe tour will be very helpful ahead of South Africa tour as it will help players get form and boost their morale. We always like to be in competition and we have an opportunity to play some Test matches, ODIs as well as T20 games. We will finish the Test matches and then bounce into the South African series with Test matches and that’s a good thing for us.”

“We may be playing Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe but its still three formats of very important cricket for Pakistan. The danger we face now is that of complacency. We do not want to be complacent in the makeup of our cricket and in preparations for this tour which is obviously handicapped by the weather. We have picked a number of youngsters who will probably make their debuts,” he added.

Referring to Afridi’s views on allowing youngsters to make a mark on this series, Whatmore said: “Afridi is a very good player for Pakistan and he is entitled to his opinion.”

“M Hafeez has done pretty well in the format he captains in. We have climbed up the rankings under his leadership but I am sure, he would like to obviously score more runs. It will be nice for him to get more runs but in terms of leadership, he has done well in the format he’s captain in,” he said.

Referring to whether Pakistan are thinking of a clean sweep in this series, the head coach said: “We play one game at a time but, as we know, there is a bit of a difference in the rankings between Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Cricket has a bit of uncertain glories in the game so we can’t take anything for granted.”

He said sometimes it was exciting to work with newer players. “When new players are picked, it does change a little bit the balance and approach with me getting used to them and getting them used to me. There is a little bit of give and take – some advantages and disadvantages – but on the whole, I am there to do the job and I do it to the best of my ability.”

He said his contract renewal was about six and half months away. “I am not thinking about it to be very honest – it’s a long time before my contract ends. I have said this before on this subject that any discussions on this subject cannot be done in this forum and have to be done with my employer.”

The head coach said Moin Khan came from a strong playing background, whereas the previous manager was more from an administration background. “That carries some advantages for sure and I will be looking to tap into those advantages surely.”

“Sohaib Maqsood is a new player selected for the T20 format. He is a very good player thought at the moment, he is battling with a little bit of fitness issues yet we are expecting him to be ready by today evening. I am happy for him that he is selected but he needs to prove his fitness in the next day or day and half,” he said.

To a query regarding whether he prefers Misbah or Hafeez as captain, Whatmore said: “They are totally different players and people. We all respect and understand that you don’t always get people who are the same. This is the whole beauty of a coach working with different captains. I am very perceptive to differences and enjoy working with both of them.”

Replying to a question on perceived inconsistency in the way Asad Shafiq is treated after failures while Hafeez is given many chances, the head coach said: “It may appear to you that way but those who know the game will understand that when you are picking an XI as a tour selector, you need to pick an XI which is as balanced as you possibly can.

“Unlike Asad Shafiq, M Hafeez has more than one string to his bow – he balances the side a little bit more than Asad and Hafeez will surely get more runs this series. This is the reason or Hafeez being selected and unfortunately, for Asad sometimes having to sit out,” Whatmore concluded.