Centurion: Critics have found it difficult writing off Rashid Latif. But, then, he has always been solid behind the stumps (112 victims in 34 Tests and 191 in 147 ODIs). Now, of course, Latif is at the end of his career. He has few regrets, though.
Latif, a former captain with roots in UPís Sultanpur district, spoke to The Telegraph the other evening. He didnít dwell at length on some of the sticky issues, yet answered all questions in the limited time available.
The following are excerpts
On quitting Test cricket but continuing to play the ODIs
I quit because of a neck injury... In fact, Iím quitting altogether after the World Cup... The injury occurred while practising in 1998 and, at different times, played up.
On whether itís been easy deciding to quit all forms
Itne saal khelne ke baad... Mushkil tha... But, family reasons also contributed. Iíve neglected them and, now, itís time to be with my wife and three children. At 34, Iím not getting any younger either. Who will succeed me' Weíve already had a youngster (Kamran Akmal) íkeeping in the Tests and, then, thereís Moin Khan... Itís possible that he will be back.
On life after cricket
(Laughs) I already run an academy in Karachi and will expand that.
On his pre-World Cup thoughts
Bas, yehi sooch ke aaye ki accha perform karen... It will be nice to sign off on a high. This isnít just my last tournament, but could be that for Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Saeed Anwar as well. (After a pause) Of course, as a team, we should have done better.
On a chequered career ó quitting out of disgust (1996), making a return and getting the captaincy and, then, being in and out
Itís all my destiny... Aur hum kya kahen' However, I must place on record the support from teammates at different times. Their help made it easier each time I made a comeback.
On the lessons learnt
That cricket is the best vehicle for lifting your countryís image... That exposure to different places and people makes you a better individual... That you get the opportunity of making a name...
On whether he felt uncomfortable on his comeback after Ďretirementí (1997-98)
Not really... I did have differences known to everybody but, after wearing the Pakistan cap, the differences disappear... It helped that I had the backing of the PCB.
On the match-fixing issue raised by him
Jo hona tha, ho gaya... But, yes, Iím proud of having made it an issue... As is known, inquiries were held...
On whether he was under pressure
I was... It wasnít an easy period, but I stood by what I thought was right... I did have to make sacrifices but, frankly, I donít have much of a regret.
On the complete wicketkeeper
Jeffrey Dujon. He always gave the impression of having been born a íkeeper... He would dive beautifully and had that smart style. Effective to woh the, dekhne mein bhi bahut accha lagta tha. Remember, if a íkeeper succumbs to pressure, the team collapses... Poori team baith jati hai. A íkeeper with character is one who will recover from a missed chance and bring off a couple of brilliant dismissals. A íkeeper alone can cancel out his own mistakes.
On the current lot
(Smiles) Thereís a big difference between Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher and the rest.. Both are streets ahead and have the mental toughness to prosper.
On India getting Rahul Dravid to íkeep in the ODIs
Itís a compromise to get the balance right... Only, what if he gets injured and India lose one of the best batters around' India should get a specialist who can also bat in the top six... Have I seen Parthiv Patel' Very little... He does have the potential, lekin kaafi mehnat karni ho gi... What Iíve noticed about most Indian íkeepers is that their hands are together when they rise to the fast bowlers. That, in my opinion, affects the ability to dive... Balance phir theek nahin rahta. The hands, therefore, should be free. I keep saying this to our young íkeepers too.
Finally, on being rated in the top three (with Gilchrist and Boucher) by world record-holder Ian Healy
Itís nice of him to have picked me... However, itís not the ratings or rankings that has driven me throughout my career... Doing well for Pakistan has been the sole driving force.