After being demoted from category A to category B in the PCB’s central contract awards, Mohammad Hafeez has, basically, thrown a tantrum. The tantrum has been accompanied with the requisite throwing of things, which in this case would be the category B contract he has refused to sign, and in the process proverbially thrown back at the board’s face.
The strong reaction begs the question of just how big of a deal is this? To many, it may even seem strange that Hafeez ever was in the first category given how little we have seen on him in recent times. His last memorable performance was a cameo in the Champions Trophy final, which was overshadowed anyhow by Fakhar Zaman and Pakistan’s route of the Indian batting.
But Mohammad Hafeez was once a key player in the Pakistan set up. Not only did he have stretches of batting form, such as he three centuries on the trot against Sri Lanka, but he was also a more than useful off spinner with the white ball. He was once also Captain of the team, which in itself might merit a category A contract.
Yet his performance in the past couple of years has been uninspiring. In 2018, he played 5 ODIs at an average of less than 30. He made two fifties in his five innings, both against New Zealand at home. But by his 2017 numbers, there were always going to be more hits than misses. In that year, he played 17 innings at an average of 39 with only 4 fifties to show for in the entire year. He only played 3 T20Is in that year, with a best of 25. In 2018, he played two T20Is with a best of 7.
He has not played a test match since 2016, in which year he batted in six innings making a best of 42 at an average of 17.
His bowling, which was once a key feature of the Pakistan attack for conservation purposes, has become uncertain thanks to the repeated bans and lifts on his bowling action. This back and forth has also depleted his bowling skill but not improved his batting.
Over all, Hafeez seems to have lost the ‘it’ about him which had sustained him for so long as one of the team’s go to players. While he may feels snubbed, the reality as it stands is that the numbers do not warrant a category A contract. They may not even warrant a category B one.