Young pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi said Pakistan will have no problems competing behind closed doors during the upcoming Test series in England as they are used to playing their home matches before empty stadiums in the UAE.
Pakistan is scheduled to play three Tests and as many T20Is in a bio-secure environment in England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“For us playing before empty stadiums is nothing new as we have played before scarce crowds in the UAE and also before empty stadiums in some matches of the last Pakistan Super League,” he said during a media interaction.
“So the atmosphere should not affect us and we aim to entertain the people watching the live matches at home.”
The first of three-match Test series is slated to get underway from July 30 with the final match concluding on August 24 while the three-T20I series will run from August 29 to September 2. However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are yet to finalise the dates.
Shaheen said England has been a happy hunting ground for Pakistan and they have done well in the last two Test series and also won the Champions Trophy.
“England is always a challenging tour specially the Test matches but the good thing is we tend to enjoy playing there and doing well,” he said.
The West Indies team is currently in England for next month’s three-Test series and Shaheen said Pakistan will keep a watch on how the tour goes as it will help them to chalk out their plans.
“We will see how they adapt to the new SOPs due to the Covid-19 and we will then accordingly make our plans,” he said.
The 20-year-old, who has played just eight Tests, 19 ODIs and 12 T20 internationals, didn’t think the young bowlers in the touring squad would face problems adjusting to the English conditions.
“Yes it is true myself, Naseem and the other youngsters have not played much Test cricket but we have Muhammad Abbas, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan and Sohail Khan in the squad who are experienced plus we have one of the greats as our bowling coach in Waqar Younis. So we will adjust accordingly,” he said.
The left-arm pacer also made it clear that for him Tests were the real challenge as a bowler and he wanted to leave a mark in the coming series in England.
“I have bowled well in all formats but obviously Tests are the real challenge as if you do well in them you are ranked as a top bowler. I take inspiration from the exploits of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in test cricket.”
Celebrations after taking a wicket will not be the same in the wake of the pandemic and Shaheen said it would be a different experience and “this is something which we have to get used to”.
“… the main thing is that after staying home for more than two months and playing no cricket we are going to play cricket at last. That is the main thing for us,” he said.
The youngster also felt that the Pakistan squad now had a very strong and experienced management and support staff and the players would learn a lot from coaches like Misbah, Waqar, Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed.
“They are all greats and them being in the dressing room will be a big boost for us to adjust to the conditions in England.