‘Merit being ignored in team selection’
LAHORE: Despite the Pakistan team management unhappy with fitness levels of several players, most of them are getting regularly selected in the One-day International and Twenty20 teams thanks to support in the power corridors, well-informed sources told Dawn on Wednesday.
The players aren’t maintaining their fitness levels while they’re also not following the instructions of fielding coach-cum-trainer Grant Luden.
“Some players namely Anwar Ali, Umar Akmal and Sarfraz Ahmad are also gaining weight,” the sources said.
They added that the case of opener Ahmed Shehzad, once tipped as the next T20 captain during Najam Sethi’s tenure as PCB chairman, is worsening.
“It’s becoming very difficult for the team management to handle him,” the sources added.
It has also emerged that head coach Waqar Younis wasn’t happy with the selectors’ insistence to include Younis Khan for the recent ODI series against England as it resulted in Asad Shafiq being ignored.
Chief selector Haroon Rasheed flew to the UAE to convince Waqar to include Younis for the series.
Pakistan lost the ODI series 1-3 with Younis announcing his retirement from the limited-overs format after the first match.
According to the central contract, Younis had no right to announce the retirement during the series but instead of taking any action against him PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan elevated the middle-order batsman to be his advisor alongside Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
The loss to England meant Pakistan slipped to eighth in the ICC ODI rankings.
The decline in the ODI rankings showed when no Pakistan player was included in ICC’s ODI Team of the Year which was announced on Wednesday.
Pakistan has been struggling in the ODI format for the last year and half, exiting this year’s World Cup in the quarter-finals stage.
However, there has been no reaction to the dip in form with nobody willing to shoulder the responsibility for the team’s losses.
The ODI series defeat followed a 3-0 whitewash in the T20 series, raising several question marks over the team’s make-up ahead of next years’ ICC World Twenty20.
Sources, meanwhile, attributed the T20 series loss to captain Shahid Afridi supporting the selection of players he prefers.
And while the players he’s supporting haven’t performed consistently, neither the selectors nor Afridi are willing to drop them from the upcoming assignments.
“If the same attitude continues, it won’t be possible for Pakistan to field a strong team at the next year’s ICC World T20 duly on merit,” sources said.
“Every stakeholder in Pakistan cricket — the team management, selection committee and captain — has their blue-eyed boys and they’ve used their influence to keep them in the team, ruining the structure of selection on merit.”
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2015