Former England pacer Darren Gough, who is currently the Managing Director of Yorkshire Cricket Club, is in Pakistan for Lahore Qalandars’ Players Development Program’s (PDP) trails.
The 51-year-old, while talking to Cricket Pakistan, is excited about coming to Pakistan after such a long period, highlighting the importance of Yorkshire’s partnership with Qalandars and how the club is dealing after Azeem Rafiq’s racism scandal and much more.
“I was really excited about it, soon as we signed the partnership with Lahore Qalandars a few months ago, I always said from the very off, I can’t wait to come back to Pakistan, I had some great memories here of training and playing,” Gough said.
“I’ve got the opportunity to experience out here in Lahore how they go about selecting some of the talents from the program; then they would have the opportunity to play in the PSL, that’s what we want to do at Yorkshire,” he added.
Partnership with Lahore Qalandars after racism scandal at Yorkshire
Gough emphasised that the club is working towards betterment after the racism scandal and these partnerships will help them move forward.
“It is a fantastic partnership, we all are working together. I have known Azeem for a long time and no one should suffer, what he went through as an individual, it was heartbreaking when he had to make his testimony live on TV. When I joined the club, they decided to sack 20 people; they asked me to come in on an interim basis to try and rebuild the cricket club and reemploy individuals, taking the club in the right direction, to make it more inclusive and better place.”
“Since then we have done a lot, we have done a lot in the communities, Iftaar events, Eid Mubarak celebrations, the club is in a good place at this moment of time, we got Test match cricket back and these partnerships with Lahore Qalandars and Multiply Titans are two unbelievable partnerships because we have always produced talent who have played at the highest level and for England,” he added.
‘Shaheen to lead Pakistan in future’
Meanwhile, Gough predicted that Shaheen Afridi would be Pakistan’s future captain.
“Shaheen is a terrific talent, he is hungry for success, he is very energetic, he enjoyed being captain of the Qalandars, I think he led them very well with loads of enthusiasm, he is definitely the future Pakistan captain”
Haris Rauf’s signing at Yorkshire for 2022 season
Gough also recalled what pushed him to sign Haris Rauf for the County Championship.
“Haris Rauf has been a great signing for us, he is someone I admire, not much experience in the longer format but a fantastic performer in the T20 for Lahore Qalandars, Melbourne Stars and for Pakistan, I watched him at the World Cup, for me to get the opportunity to see if he was available to play for Yorkshire with Lord Patel that was just amazing, he has been brilliant at the club, the lads have loved him, he is fitted in really really well, he found it hard but he bowled beautifully against Kent, he got five wickets in the first innings, he will play one more game for Worcestershire then we have him and Shadab Khan for T20 Blast, so I am looking forward to see them both playing together.
Babar Azam is a terrific talent
Gough also termed Pakistan skipper Babar Azam as a terrific talent and how him and other batters are vying to take the number one slot across formats.
“Babar Azam is a fantastic talent, the way he builds his innings in all formats is superb, it didn’t work well for Karachi in PSL this year but he is the best. When you talk about the best players in the world, you look at Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Babar Azam and those are the four batters you look at, are the best players in the world and they are all fighting for the number one slot.”
‘England must tour Pakistan’
England had to tour last year for two T20Is but withdrew, Gough is confident the English side will tour later.
“England will come, every person I have spoken to, who has come to Pakistan, whether it’s for PSL or commentary, they said we had a fantastic time, I am sure England will come and will enjoy their time here, it will be a tough series too,” he concluded.