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LAHORE: Pakistan’s contracted players must put national team duty ahead of franchise cricket, team director Mohammad Hafeez said after fast bowler Haris Rauf declined to be part of the team’s Test tour of Australia.

White-ball specialist Rauf, who has played only one Test and nine first-class matches in his career, turned down an offer to tour Australia where Pakistan will play three Tests.

18-member Test squad announced for Australia tour

The 30-year-old has instead been waiting for approval from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to join the Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League. “All centrally contracted and domestic contracted players, for all of them, the priority is Pakistan,” former captain Hafeez told reporters on Tuesday.

“The point of offering it (contract) to the 20-25 players … is to make sure they are available to play,” he said. “Now there is a parallel option in the form of leagues and we experienced this in the Asia Cup and World Cup.

“There was talk of fatigue, or players were getting injured because their workloads were too much, or not performing as they should.”

Hafeez is part of a new team management that was put in place after Pakistan failed to make the semi-finals of this year’s 50-overs World Cup in India.

Australian openers vie for attention in Pakistan warm-up

Hafeez said the board would factor in a players’ workload ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup before giving him a ‘No Objection Certificate’(NOC) to take part in one of the growing number of lucraitve franchise leagues around the world.

“Moving towards the T20 World Cup, the NOC policy will be based on what Pakistan needs,” he explained.

“If Pakistan need fit players, we need to make sure of their workloads. The maximum energy and availability has to be to Pakistan. “If there is an opportunity around that, that they can play (in leagues), that will be definitely considered.”

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