Wahab Riaz found himself the latest subject of coach Mickey Arthur's criticism when his name did not appear in the squad announced for a training camp, out of whom players will be chosen for a team to tour Ireland and England this summer, ESPNcricinfo reported on Thursday.
Mickey Arthur who has been gearing towards "a high-performance culture within the Pakistan squad" was forced to question Wahab's "training work ethic". Arthur went so far as to provide a blistering assessment of the left-arm firebrand by saying that he had not "won us a game in two years".
According to ESPNcricinfo, the selection panel has chosen five fast bowlers — Mohammad Amir, Muhammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Mir Hamza and Rahat Ali — for the camp which will be attended by 25 cricketers.
All-rounder Faheem Ashraf was also selected and Shaheen Shah Afridi, the 17-year-old who has been making waves in the cricketing world, was also declared part of the pool.
Besides, 16 of the 25 will be chosen in the final squad for the international tours.
"He has not won us a game in two years," Arthur told ESPNcricinfo. "I expect players that have been around for a long time to be winning us games and setting standards. Otherwise, we will invest in younger players who have long futures. We have good youngsters around. [Dropping] Wahab is a big decision but we have chosen a squad according to the time of year, country and conditions. The guys need to push themselves and get out of their comfort zones."
Wahab reportedly underwent a fitness exam where he scored 17.4, a mark which can be considered for qualification. However, the coach had wished to see him touch 19 ─ an unofficial benchmark set for a fast bowler, as described by the article on ESPNcricinfo.
"I cannot fault Wahab when he has a ball in his hand but his work ethic around training is something [that] needs to be looked at," Arthur said. "I am changing the culture in this Pakistan environment and I am not interested in players doing just the bare minimum. I want players winning us games of cricket and pushing themselves to be the best they can be. This is a high-performance environment, not an environment where mediocrity is accepted. Unless you are winning games consistently, you are under pressure for your position."
This latest development has thrown the 32-year-old cricketer's international future into question.
As ESPNcricinfo reports, his career record so far was quite promising with many memorable moments to his credit. Chief among those is the World Cup 2015 spell in Adelaide, but there was an immense nineteen-over spell in the afternoon heat of Dubai against England, that set up a win; there were key interventions on the Test tour to England in 2016; and in his last Test, against Sri Lanka in Dubai, he blitzed through the top order and nearly turned around a Test that had no business being turned around.
Often forgotten is that he was Pakistan's highest wicket-taker on the disastrous Test tour of Australia in 2016-17.
Undoubtedly, in between, there were many incidences that caused frustration ─ unsatisfactory performances, repeat no-ball offences, and seemingly good but nonetheless wicketless spells.
Moreover, there was the whole issue with his run-up last year in Dubai where he pulled up from delivering no-balls five times in a row, causing a furore in the dressing room with Arthur's reprimands.
The last time Wahab played an ODI was nearly a year ago in India during the Champions Trophy — his figures that day read 8.4-0-87-0 — and his last T20I came in April last year against West Indies; he returned figures of 4-0-44-1.
The beginning of 2016, however, recorded him as Pakistan's second-highest wicket-taking fast bowler in Tests, and one might argue, the most effective.
Moreover, at the end of Pakistan Super League he emerged as the top-joint wicket-taker alongside Faheem but with a better economy rate (6.90) than Faheem's (7.75).
The selection panel has instead nominated Rahat Ali who has missed selection since 2016 following a heel injury.
With Arthur looking to instil some discipline into the bowlers who will be facing English conditions, it is apparent Rahat Ali is someone he feels can be trusted more than Wahab can.