LAHORE-Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz has said that he wants to play for the country, not for the central contract and he is more eager to serve the national team in a better way.

The pacer here on Friday rejected the widespread notion that he and fellow pacer Mohammad Amir quit the Test cricket in order to make more money from league cricket, which, he feels, led to their omission in new central contracts list. Soon after Amir’s retirement from the Test cricket last year, Wahab had followed the suit and made him unavailable for the longest format and then faced a lot criticism from the cricket experts and fans, some of whom even claimed the two were ditching the country at a time when it needed them the most.

Wahab on has made it clear that money was certainly not a factor in his decision. “There is a false impression that we have given up red-ball cricket to make money from leagues. There is no such thing. We have always preferred to play for Pakistan and our decision should be respected. Since 2017, I was not even a regular fixture of the Test squad. I had barely played a Test,” the 34-year-old reminded his critics who had deemed his absence a major blow for the five-day unit.

The pace duo of Wahab and Amir was the notable absentees when the PCB recently handed out the central contracts, with those in the know deducing that the duo were punished for their unpopular and untimely decisions. Wahab also cannot discount the possibility of them being exemplified. “It is possible that we have been exemplified for quitting red-ball cricket or maybe the PCB wanted to give a chance to young fast bowlers and groom them by awarding them with central contracts,” he said.

However, Misbah and company’s decision did not seem to bother the fast bowler as he clarified that his sole focus was to represent his country. “The central contract is not my priority as I always want to play for the country, not just for the central contact. It will be an honour to play for the country whenever the opportunity arises.”

When the pacer was asked that whether has any plan to return to Test cricket, he clarified that he hasn’t any such plan yet rather he is keen to serve the country in ODIs and T20Is in a befitting manner. “I have not thought or planned to return to red-ball cricket. When I feel like playing the Test cricket, I will surely inform the PCB about my decision,” he asserted.

Wahab said that the proposed idea of banning the use of saliva to shine the ball amid the Coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t help the bowlers, who can potentially face difficulty in swinging the ball as sweat was not an ideal substitute to spit. “It’s absolutely necessary for bowlers to shine the ball otherwise it could cause problems in swinging the ball. There should be a substitute that bowlers can use in place,” he said.