Saqlain excited by England prospects

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, who survived a career-threatening knee injury to make a comeback in England this season, is excited by the possibility of playing for his adopted country.

Saqlain, who has taken 208 wickets in 49 Tests for Pakistan, played for Sussex against the touring India side this week and said he would qualify to play for England from September this year after he married a British citizen of Pakistani origin.

"It's an exciting prospect to know I might also get a chance to play for England. But it is an option I will think about only after a successful comeback this season," Saqlain told Reuters in an interview from England.

Saqlain has received his British passport.

"There are many people who feel I should try to play for England and are pushing me to go for it," he said. "I am only 30.

"But I am first concentrating on completing a good season without any more fitness problems," he said.

Saqlain, who last played a Test against India in April 2004, said it was a wait-and-see situation.

"Let me first complete the season properly. Then see who is keener to play me and consider the best option. But playing for Pakistan has always been a honour for me."

However, he did not hide his bitterness at the way the Pakistan Cricket Board and selectors shunned him since his knee injury, which required two operations.

"It hurts that no one bothered to just call me or ask me how I was doing. 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," said Saqlain, who took 288 wickets in 169 one-day internationals for Pakistan.

Saqlain said his comeback had been possible after an intensive rehabilitation process with Sussex.

"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.

"I played my first proper match in two years time against India and it went smoothly. It made me realise I am not finished as an international player yet. It now depends how desperate I am for the big comeback."

He took four wickets and bowled 35 overs for Sussex in the match against India.


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