- Urdu version is available here
While it was disappointing to lose the Test series, the whole experience has been a really positive one for a young, improving team.
It was a really competitive series played in an excellent spirit. Without spectators it was important to create the right atmosphere and it was great to see how players and staff from both sides applauded performances by their opponents.
On the field, there was no dissent or anything else untoward happened. Players from both teams maintained the spirit of the game and enjoyed the contest – it was so good to see. These situations are about action and reaction: if the players respect each other and the game itself, which they did, then there will be a good atmosphere.
Life in the biosecure bubble was a good experience – it was like a boot camp for Pakistan cricket. You do everything together: playing, training, eating. You could sense it was tougher for the players at times because they couldn’t switch off and go out or visit different places.
But, overall as a group, we stayed together and enjoyed each other’s company. Spending more time together helps the group to bond. Maybe if it was a longer tour or if this becomes the norm, then it will become difficult for players and staff to spend so much time away from their families.
But, we had just spent three months at home so we were desperate to get back into training and playing.
After the game, we talked about all the positives to come out of the series but also the areas where we can improve on whether that is skills, tactics or fitness. We always need to improve. We spoke as a group and then also individually reminded the players of those areas and also gave them programmes to follow in writing.
We need to work hard and come back strong.
Losing that first Test after being on top for so long was really disappointing, but one major positive was the way the players kept fighting in difficult situations and difficult conditions. Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood and Babar Azam all battled really hard.
Our captain Azhar Ali deserves a lot of credit for the way he fought in the final Test. He was under a lot of pressure but he showed great character and mental strength. That innings saved the game for us. Any batsman scoring a hundred is always special but that innings was extra special because Azhar had worked so hard.
Finally, every single ball thrown to him, everything we did together had paid off.
This series was a good opportunity for the bowlers to work on their skills and fitness over two months, learning from Waqar Younis, one of the greats of Pakistan cricket. We must remember that Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi are still very young whereas England’s new-ball attack has 1,114 Test wickets between them!
Our bowlers have learned a lot from this series and it was great to see Shaheen having the chance to talk about bowling with Jimmy Anderson after the Test had finished. Learning from great fast bowlers will help them tactically.
Anderson’s achievement of reaching 600 Test wickets is amazing. He has shown exceptional discipline, motivation and determination because fast bowling is the toughest job in cricket. He has control, he’s tactically very smart and is always challenging the batsman. And it is important to remember that he’s there for Test cricket. He has made his name in Test cricket and the love for the red-ball game is clearly there. That is something that our bowlers need to give priority to, especially the young bowlers.
I would like to thank all our fans who have supported the team. Even though there have been no spectators in the stadiums, we have felt the people with us. This young team is only going to get better.
I will also like to extend my thanks to the England and Wales Cricket Board for the way they have looked after us on this tour. Having experienced this first hand, it was an incredible job and not only made the players feel comfortable and but also safe and secure.
Looking into the future, we would really appreciate England visiting Pakistan soon.
A number of England players have appeared in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020, which was played at home. Then, we had Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and MCC in the 2019-20 season and before that, the World XI and the West Indies in 2017-18.
Players from all over the world now know about the levels of security Pakistan can provide and how much they will be welcomed. Pakistan cricket fans want to see the top players in the world performing right in front of them so everybody is waiting for that visit.
This is one way that everyone can support each other in difficult times. The whole cricket community needs to support each other – that’s the only way to promote the game and bring joy to fans and cricket lovers.