The headline of this piece should be the last time Inzamam-ul-Haq is referenced as Imam-ul-Haq's uncle — or Imam as Inzamam's nephew.

The younger Haq, from what we've seen in his young career, is a player in his own right. And the older Haq, judging from the chock-full talent pool of Pakistan cricket right now, is doing something right as the chief selector.

It may pain us to admit, but the kinship these two have is totally trivial. A chacha-bhateja duo they may be, but for our purposes, one is a good selector and the other a promising talent.

After Imam, on debut and under difficult conditions, led Pakistan to a hard-fought win over Ireland, his credentials should not be questioned. He's earned his keep — at least for the time being. Product of a parchi you say? Torn up pieces of that parchi can be found all over The Village pitch in Ireland.

As for keeping the ostensibly deserving Fawad Alam out of the side, well that southpaw is a middle-order batter — a finisher — while Imam is an opener. How is one a replacement of the other?

Read: Fawad Alam's exclusion from Test squad leaves Twitterati baffled

Of course, this all is coming back to the critics — including yours truly — only now. Now that we've been proven wrong and now that Imam did not fall flat on his face on his debut like many of us had envisaged.

Imam, a 22-year-old, turned out to be Pakistan's saviour in Malahide. The narrative crumbled. The script flipped.

Turns out, Imam may after all have talent. More notably, it turns out that his uncle, a man of cricket — correction: a legend of cricket — may have an eye for talent. And he may not have been lying when he had passionately defended his record and said he had nothing against anyone.

The thing is that in modern sports a lot of faith is put in numbers. In the last two decades, concepts such as sports analytics and moneyball and whatnot have taken over. They've led us to believe that numbers don't lie — and while they may not, they don't necessarily tell the whole story either.

So Fawad may have averaged 40 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy this season but that was down from his last year's average of 56. A 16-run single-season plunge for a 32-year-old, even if he is still fit, is an alarming sign.

Read: The curious case of Fawad

But even if his numbers were the same, why have we taken away from a head hunter the right to sniff and induct talent purely on his instinct and nous? Don't we want to leave even a little bit of humanness left in this game?

If we turn this into a number game, no incumbent will ever be thrown out of any side on the basis of their career's worth of stats and no newcomer will have a look in.

The bottom line is that the Inzamam and Imam critics dropped a massive clanger. We jumped our guns. We lashed out at the two when there was no need to. We did so because they have matching surnames and because nepotism is a recurring theme in Pakistan.

It looks like, in this case, we were wrong. Let's take it on the chin. Let's apologise to Inzamam, the chief selector, and Imam, the cricketer.


The views expressed by this writer do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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