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Selection problem

Nigah Muhammad


The writer is a reporter and journalist.

They say strange things happen in Pakistan cricket and, even on the eve of the World Cup, the trend continues. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup in which many surprising calls were made. The team management has been experimenting with many combinations and players for the past year yet there were many spots up for grabs.

Selection has always been an issue seriously highlighted by not only by experts but also by the general public whenever the team struggles to perform. Pakistan’s limited-overs squads have gone through numerous changes in the last couple of years. Since the 2019 World Cup, they have tried 27 players in 11 ODIs and 38 players in 34 T20Is.

A pattern has emerged of too many players being dropped after too few opportunities or despite producing decent results. Much of this has come during the tenures of Misbah-ul-Haq (September 2019 to December 2020) and Mohammad Wasim (since January 2021) as chief selectors.

A talented player can easily change the outcome of the match with proper training and chances. When it comes to team selection, any team in the world, including India, New Zealand England or Australia, selects the best by combining seniors and juniors without any biasness.

Most of the T20 World Cups held since 2007 have been won by the teams with the best combination of senior and junior. But when it comes to Pakistan, our management always thinks the opposite. We usually pick new players by excluding the experience ones in mega-events like world cup. And history has shown that Pakistan has never benefited from these untimely experiences.  

Some major mistakes were made in selecting the squad for the most important event of the year: the T20 World Cup. Who would have thought that Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah would make an entry into the final squad? Both have done absolutely nothing to prove that they are good enough at the international level.

Sohaib Maqsood deserves a chance after being the player of the tournament but he has struggled in international games. Hafeez has been struggling for form lately with the bat which makes the middle order the biggest weakness for the team. These players were picked by excluding Faheem Ashraf, Shoaib Malik, Muhammad Amir, Fakhar Zaman and Wahab Riaz.

The 39-year old will be extremely disappointed in missing out from the squad. This was the last chance for Malik to represent Pakistan in a global event. Pakistan needed his experience and composure in the middle order.

Pakistan needed Sarfaraz as a batsman to cover the inexperienced middle order. He has a sound technique against spin bowling and has scored plenty of runs in UAE. Picking Azam Khan over Sarfaraz makes little sense as Azam has struggled against quality spin and failed to score runs in the UAE leg of PSL.

Mohammad Aamir, who had announced his retirement, is all set to return to international cricket, so the PCB should have contacted him and tried to include him in the team. When it comes to his performances, Amir is a very prominent name among recent fast bowlers and he is one of the few players who can turn the tide of a match.

Babar Azam has also expressed displeasure over the announcement of this squad and several media outlets have reported that the squad has been finalized by the incoming chairman Ramiz Raja. Now if the chairman interferes in team selection, how can you expect the captain to give you the desired results in a mega event?