KARACHI: Former Pakistan players on Thursday urged a boycott of the International Cricket Council (ICC) annual awards ceremony over the omission of spinner Saeed Ajmal from the shortlist for Test player of the year.
An independent jury comprising former players, officials and mediamen provoked anger in Pakistan after omitting the wily off-spinner from the shortlist of four candidates, which includes Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara, Australian Michael Clarke and South Africans Vernon Philander and Hashim Amla.
Ajmal, 34, took 72 wickets in 12 Tests from August 2011 to July this year, including 24 wickets in a 3-0 rout of then world number one team England in January-February.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) earlier this week lodged a protest with the ICC demanding a review of the shortlist for the September 15 ceremony to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. But the ICC said an independent jury had decided the list.
“The way the ICC has ignored Ajmal is unjust and the PCB must convey its reservations by boycotting the awards ceremony in Sri Lanka,” former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif told AFP.
Former batsman Basit Ali urged the PCB not to accept the decision.
“The decision to leave out Ajmal is inexplicable and Pakistan must not attend the ceremony,” he said.
Mohsin Khan, the former opener who coached the team that beat England this year, said the selection process should not come down to personal preferences.
“This ICC process to shortlist players is clearly flawed because cricket is all about performance, not personal likes and dislikes. Better if the PCB boycotts the awards function,” Khan said.
“It will at least send out a strong message to the ICC. South Africa also did it in 2009 when their deserving players were ignored for the awards.”
The PCB said it was considering the option of boycotting the event. A final decision is expected within the next few days.
“If anyone else has more wickets than Ajmal, then we are ready to withdraw our concern and instead we will support their pick. But this isn't reflecting well on the ICC and they should rectify it,”
PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf told local media.
Around 150 youngsters took to the streets in Lahore to protest against Ajmal's omission.