Termed as somewhat ‘bad boy’ of Pakistan cricket team, opener Ahmed Shehzad has denied allegations of being undisciplined or having attitude problems.
As quoted by Press Trust of India, the opener also made evident his displeasure at being compared to India’s Virat Kohli saying that he has no desire to replicate the achievements of the Indian cricketer.
“My motto is to enjoy cricket and I like playing cricket with a sense of freedom and joy.
“I like to dress well, eat well and am bit of a showman and I think, if you don’t have attitude you can’t be a more than an average professional sportsman,” said Shehzad.
“But to say that I am undisciplined or have attitude problems is not correct. I have my own style and I like to enjoy life but that does not mean I am not a team man, good professional athlete or I don’t respect my teammates.
“Many impressions about me are misplaced,” he said.
Despite his claims though, after the World Cup 2015, head coach Waqar Younis and then ODI captain Misbahul Haq had suggested dropping Shehzad due to disciplinary issues. When questioned about this, Shehzad asked whether anyone had actually thoroughly gone over the report.
“There are lot of conjunctions about the report and some misunderstanding. Obviously they are differences and issues in a team which is like a family. But that does not mean I am not disciplined.
“Why they filed that report is something they can answer best,” said Shehzad.
Shehzad said that he had learnt from his past mistakes and had improved through them.
He also said that even though there was pressure on all the youngsters in the team to perform well, he and others like Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq were examined more closely. He added that he would like to be treated as a 23-year-old youngster and not as 28 to 30-year-old in the team.
“I know I don’t always deliver at the crease but whenever I do I just want my team management to remember I am still just 23 years and judge my performances on that.”
The youngster, who is credited with playing in 11 Tests and 70 ODIs so far in his career, revealed he had been saddened by his exclusion from the series Pakistan played against Zimbabwe in Lahore.
Zimbabwe’s visit to Pakistan earlier this year marked the first time a foreign team had toured Pakistan in six years.
“Yes definitely that was a disappointment to not to get to play in front of my home crowd but hopefully that chance will come soon,” he said.
When questioned about the persistent comparison with Virat Kohli, Shehzad did not try to hide his displeasure.
“There is no comparison; he plays for India I play for Pakistan. He has his own ambitions, I have mine.
“And I am sure when I have played the number of ODIs and Tests that he has played I would have also achieved a lot.
“But right now I have played just 70 he has played double that figure so comparisons should not be made by the media.”
Shehzad said that amongst all three formats of the game, Test cricket remained his Everest and one which he hoped to conquer by playing at least 100 Tests
“I just feel that the challenges you face in a Test they do not come in the other formats which have their own challenges. Playing 100 Tests is my only ambition.”
The 23-year-old said that he enjoyed a good relationship with the veteran members of the team and the management including the head coach.
“At first I had a different outlook but now after having seen the hard work put in by Waqar bhai and the other coaching staff I respect them and their efforts.
“There is no doubt that Waqar has introduced positivity in the team and we have been told all the time to just go and play aggressive cricket but sensibly without bothering about the pitch conditions or the opponents.
“This is a marked difference now that we are being told we must be prepared to play aggressively in any circumstances and everyone must work towards achieving that goal.”
Shehzad also talked about his batting style and said that even though his first instinct was to play aggressively, experience had taught him to tame his disposition.
“I work a lot more on my technique and mental outlook now. After being hit by that Corey Anderson bouncer last year against New Zealand, I worked very hard to find the right body balance while playing short pitched balls and it has given me more confidence.”
“I am satisfied with my Test batting average of nearly 44 but would like to improve my ODI average of 35 and my overall strike rate.
“I am sure with the passage of time these averages will improve and there will be more centuries as well,” said Shehzad.
Shehzad added that as a career goal he would like to emulate the accomplishments of legendary Younus Khan and Inzamamul Haq.
“Younus, I admire and respect a lot because despite all his performances he is very down to earth and lets his bat do the talking. I have a different personality I am more outgoing but Younus is a role model for us.”
Regarding his much talked about relationship with the flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi, the batsman said he was like an elder brother and mentor to him.
“As a captain, Shahid bhai is more aggressive and thinks out of the hat and sometimes he succeeds sometimes he fails. In comparison, Misbahul Haq as captain is more of a meticulous planner and shrewd.”