Saqlain ponders England options

Friday, July 13, 2007

LONDON: Pakistan and English county Sussex spinner Saqlain Mushtaq believes he could become the first player to represent England having already played international cricket for Pakistan.

Saqlain is playing for Sussex as a home player because of a British passport gained from marrying an English woman. The 30-year-old, sidelined by injury in 2004, qualifies for England in 2008.
“It’s an exciting prospect to know I might get a chance for England,”
he said.
“But it is an option I will only think about after a successful season,”
he added.

Saqlain must wait until April to qualify for England because it is compulsory to wait four years if changing nationality.

He last played for Pakistan in 2004, the year in which he suffered a serious knee problem that effectively ruled him out of first-class cricket until this season, when Sussex moved to secure his services.

The spinner duly obliged by taking four wickets on his first-class debut for the county champions in their tour match against India.

“Getting a chance to play for Sussex as a local player was the lucky break I was looking for after the agony and misery I went through,”
he said.

“It made me realise I am not finished as an international player yet,” he explained. “It now depends how desperate I am for the big comeback,”
he added.

Saqlain admits he retains deep affection for Pakistan, but is dismayed by the way he says he was treated during his recuperation from injury.

“It hurts that no one bothered to just call me or ask me how I was doing,”
he lamented.
“It was as if I didn’t exist. I didn’t care about them footing my medical bills but the moral support was never there,”
he added.

Having regained his fitness, Saqlain is determined not to think too far ahead.
“I am first concentrating on completing a good season without any more fitness problems,”
he said.
“Then I will see who is keener to play me and consider the best option. But playing for Pakistan has always been an honour for me,”
he added.

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