ISLAMABAD - Pacer M Asif has said that the national cricket team belongs to the nation of Pakistan and not to any individual player.

Asif said that the team belonged to the nation and if any player didn’t want to play alongside the banned trio then who knew, those players might not be in the team themselves. "This is not a local village team where some players don't want others to play. If one or two players don't want to play alongside us, then who knows, those players may not be in the team themselves in the future," Asif was quoted as saying.

Asif said players come and go and nobody is an automatic or guaranteed selection. "If Pakistan needs us in the team in future, then we will be picked regardless of what some individual players' feelings are," he said.

Speaking about the former Pakistan players feel that you (Asif) do not deserve another chance, Asif said: “There are a couple of players who are speaking out against me, M Aamir and Salman Butt. I have no problems at all with that as it is their opinion. The former players aren't selectors and I don't think they will influence the selectors as what matters is our performance on the field," he said.

Asif said: “There are also a number of other former players who feel we deserve another chance and I think that opinion among former Pakistan players is probably 70/30 in our favour. There are people who are for me and against me. I actually get more energy from people who are against me as I want to show those people what I am still capable of and to prove them wrong," he said.

Talking about his return to international cricket, Asif said it is too early at this stage to be speaking about a return to international cricket. "My fitness is fine and I weigh exactly what I did five years ago before I was banned. Mentally, I am ready for a return to cricket but I have to be realistic and take things one step at a time," he said.

Asif said: “I have been given some targets by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) regarding fitness levels and they shouldn't be a problem at all. I have now started training at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore which will be a great help. If I perform well then the selectors can pick me, if I don't perform then the selectors will ignore me. My target is to make a comeback to international in the series in England next year,” Asif concluded.