Former Pakistan allrounder Abdul Razzaq, who last played internationally five years ago, has picked up his bat again to make a surprise comeback at the age of 38. Razzaq has signed a contract with Pakistan Television to play in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, and is aiming to be involved in the fourth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) next year.
Razzaq's most recent appearance for Pakistan came in 2013, in a T20 against South Africa, and he was last seen on Pakistan's domestic circuit in 2015. His international career began in 1996, when he made his debut against Zimbabwe in Lahore, a month before his 17th birthday. He has played 46 Tests, 265 ODIs and 32 T20Is, besides representing five counties. Over the last few years he has turned to professional coaching and worked as assistant and bowling coach with PSL side Quetta Gladiators in the last two seasons.
Officially, Razzaq had never retired, but he faded away from the scene after a lack of opportunities having ended his domestic contract with Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited. He moved to England with his family and was recently signed with as a TV cricket expert, featuring in a studio show covering Pakistan's recent homes series against West Indies alongside former Test batsman Mohammad Wasim and former captain Rashid Latif.
"It was Mohammad Wasim who actually motivated me to play again," Razzaq told ESPNcricinfo. "Given the fact that my love for the game is still there, I have decided to give it a shot for one last final time. I am offered a contract by PTV and going to play first-class cricket for them this year. I know I cannot play for Pakistan anymore and that isn't my aim either. I know there are a lot of youngsters all over and they are doing very well. I don't want to push myself there but my aim is to play for another year or two in Pakistan Super League and this is all about it."
To be picked for the PSL, Razzaq will have to demonstrate his enthusiasm for playing again, as well as prove his fitness. Although, no team has yet shown an interest in picking up the ageing allrounder, returning to domestic cricket may turn heads. Once a sharp bowler clocking over 140kph regularly in his youth, he later built a reputation on his hitting and made headlines with quick cameos with the bat. He was considered as one of the most-notable allrounders Pakistan had ever produced.
However, his previous stint in domestic cricket ended up with issues around a lack of fitness and he was often found criticising the then head coach Waqar Younis for not considering him, as Younis pushed for youngsters to come into the system.
"It is actually about passion and hunger but the only concern for me is fitness right now, which I am working on," Razzaq said. "We have the example of Misbah[-ul-Haq] and that is really something encouraging me to push myself. If he can do it being over 40 then there is no reason why I cannot. I have started playing cricket and will play the upcoming Ramzan tournament in Karachi to get myself ready for four-day cricket this season. That is my main target and this will set a tone for me going ahead in the PSL. It's not about different format but about giving yourself a chance and I think first-class cricket is where I [can] revive myself."