Lahore: Following in the footsteps of West Indian Chris Gayle, Pakistan's former captain and allrounder Shoaib Malik has also snubbed English county offers to try to win a spot in the national team for the coming tour to Sri Lanka. "I had been approached by some of the counties to play this season, but I have decided to focus on my return to the national side," Malik said on Friday.
Sources said country sides Hampshire and Essex had made offers, but Malik, after consulting his wife Sania Mirza and family, decided he could get a ticket for the Sri Lanka tour. The national selection committee is due to announce the touring squad around May 10, after which coach Dav Whatmore will set up a conditioning camp in Lahore for the selected players and reserves.
Pakistan play three Tests, five ODIs and two T20 matches in Sri Lanka from June 1. They also take on Australia in five ODIs and three T20 matches in August before taking part in the ICC World T20 Championship in Sri Lanka in September-October.
Malik said his main focus remained on getting his international career back on track as playing for the national team was the biggest honour for any player. Malik, 30, said he was made offers through his agent in England but turned them down because the Sri Lanka tour and the Australia series clashed with the English season.
"This time there are strict clauses in the contracts for the overseas players. The county teams wanted assurance that I will play for them once I sign the contract even if I am selected for Pakistan and I couldn't accept that," Malik added. "I had no option but to turn down the offers as I know the coming series are important for my career as a Pakistan player," he said.
Malik said he had been training hard and was in good touch and was hopeful that the selectors would give him a chance to establish himself again in the team. "I have played domestic cricket and done well, and I think I have a very good chance of wearing the Pakistan cap again," Malik said.
Other Pakistani players have also got offers from counties, including off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, but have turned them down because of the series against Sri Lanka and Australia.