Lahore: Pakistan batsman Imam-ul-Haq feels cricket matches, including the T20 World Cup, should be played in front of spectators as the charm isn't quite there if it is held behind closed doors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works of all sports and there have been talks of resuming cricket behind closed doors once the situation gets better.
The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Australia from October 18 to November 15 but the fate of the tournament remains uncertain with some suggesting it be conducted behind closed doors.
"I personally feel T20 World Cup, if it happens, should take place with crowds as its charm is something else for players and everyone involved," Imam told reporters in a video conferencing chat facilitated by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday.
"But this will be decided by ICC and we will respect that. Let's hope for the best. We also need to ensure players and crowd safety," said the 24-year old left handed batsman.
Imam said there were a few Pakistan Super League matches behind closed doors and it was strange.
"We played 1-2 matches in PSL without spectators and it was a strange feeling. So we will respect the board's decision. But personally I feel it is better with crowds as the charm is more. You need to travel in planes, stay in hotels so I feel safety should always be top priority."
The two-day physical fitness tests of PCB's centrally-contracted players ended on Tuesday when another eleven players, including captain Azhar Ali and T20 captain Babar Azam, displayed their fitness level. Asked about that, Imam said: "Fitness test is good, players should always be responsible, and fit. It was fun. I enjoyed and I was prepared also. You are always working out, and you need to push yourself as an international player.
"Fitness test is there to assess ourselves and this is good for a player as well. He also gets to know.
Imam said he has gym equipment at home and also a trainer to guide him via video calls.
"I had got things in my gym. I have all equipment here. I have hired trainer also he helps me via video call. But match fitness cannot be compared with anything else so yes it will take time 10-15 days (post lockdown) then it will be alright."
Imam last played a Test in December last year in Adelaide against Australia, which was a Day/Night affair. He was dropped after that due to poor shows as Pakistan lost in Australia 0-2 and won the home series against Sri Lanka 1-0 and the one-off Test against Bangladesh too.
"I was not part of playing XI in Test team but I saw how the home crowd was enjoying cricket," Imam said on cricket returning to Pakistan.
"Cricket is back in Pakistan and that is great. This is good for our batters or bowlers."
Imam said he thought he deserved one more chance after he got dropped from the Test team.
"I did get upset when I was dropped from the Test team. I thought I would get one more chance in Pakistan. But you can't get everything you wish for.
"I need to score big in Tests. I need to adjust and I am working on that. If I get one more chance you will see a different Imam in Tests."