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Inzamam keeps door open for new role after stepping down as chief selector

July 18, 2019

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OUTGOING Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq addresses a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.—M.Arif/White Star
OUTGOING Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq addresses a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.—M.Arif/White Star

LAHORE: Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq made it clear on Wednesday that he has no interest to continue in his current role but kept doors open for any other position in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Addressing a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday, Inzamam said he won’t seek extension to his tenure which ends on July 31.

“As chairman of National Selection Committee, I have decided not to seek a renewal of my contract. With the ICC World Test Championship due to get underway in September, the ICC T20 World Cup in 2020 and the ICC World Cup in 2023, I believe it is the right time for the Pakistan Cricket Board to appoint a new chief selector who can bring new ideas and fresh thinking,” Inzamam said.

Ex-skipper satisfied with Pakistan’s World Cup showing

“I spoke to PCB chairman Ehsan Mani and managing director Wasim Khan on Monday and conveyed my decision to them separately. I also thanked them for backing and supporting the selection committee since taking over the reins of Pakistan cricket.

“The Pakistan team has come a long way since the departures of stalwarts Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan [in May 2017] and is now destined for improved results as the youngsters have grown in experience and stature. They are now ready to excel and perform consistently across the three formats.”

“As human being I might have made mistakes but they were unintentional because I did not even think of destroying the future of any player. If anyone got hurt because of any decision over selection, I will apologise. But having said that, I preferred the national interest first,” former Pakistan captain added.

Inzamam expressed satisfaction over Pakistan’s showing at the World Cup where they failed to qualify for the semi-finals on net run-rate.

“Overall Pakistan’s performance in the World Cup was good and we beat both the finalists [England and New Zealand]. But we were unlucky that our team could not qualify for the knockout stage because of inferior net run-rate after finishing level with New Zealand,” he observed.

To a query, Inzamam denied that the PCB had already offered him a new role in the bargain of relinquishing the chief selector’s post quietly. he, hoever, went on to add that if a role for him does comes his way, he’ll consider it because he’s interested in serving the board.

Meanwhile, Dawn has learnt that the management of Ehsan Mani wants to bring in a new national selection committee instead of persisting with the current body which was formed by his predecessor. To avert any controversy, the PCB and Inzamam have reportedly reached an understanding in which he would have no interest in extending his position as the chief selector and the board will offer him another role.

During his tenure, Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 under Sarfraz Ahmed’s captaincy and also topped the T20I rankings for the first time in November 2017. Players such as Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Abbas, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Shinwari made their international debuts while Babar Azam rose to prominence as Pakistan’s batting mainstay across all three formats.

“It has been a pleasure to see these players grow and make a name for themselves in international cricket. I will follow their progress with interest because I firmly believe these players have all the ingredients to take the Pakistan cricket team to greater heights,” Inzamam said. “The team could have performed better during my time than the results reflect. I may have inadvertently overlooked some potentially deserving players, but I have always had the best interests of Pakistan cricket foremost in my heart. I hope the passionate fans will understand and can see this in my decisions.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow selectors [Tauseef Ahmed, Wajahatullah Wasti and Wasim Haider] who all worked tirelessly behind the scenes, as well as captain Sarfraz Ahmed and head coach Mickey Arthur. I think we worked very well as a group, stayed together in difficult times and continued to collectively move in the same direction.

“I wish the new chief of the selection committee and the Pakistan cricket teams all the best in what will be exciting but competitive times in international cricket.”

Inzamam further said that the captain should be appointed for a longer period instead of series-to-series basis but clarified that it is up to the PCB to retain Sarfraz as skipper or otherwise.

On a personal note Inzamam lamented that he as chief selector has been accused of nepotism for picking his nephew Imam-ul-Haq.

“But perhaps the critics are not aware that when Imam was selected in Pakistan Under-19 squad, I was not the chief selector. Imam worked really very, very hard to make the senior team purely on performance,” he said.

Inzamam, however, was stumped for an answer when he was asked to explain selection fof underperforming veterans Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez for the World Cup. “They were selected because they had been with the national team for the last three years. New Zealand also picked an out-of-form Martin Guptill in their World Cup squad,” he argued.

But Inzamam did admit that he had the authority to take final decisions during the World Cup when his presence during Pakistan’s earlier matches in the mega event was heavily criticised.

The PCB chairman and managing director, meanwhile, both paid tribute to the outgoing chief selector.

“Inzamam is one of the icons of Pakistan cricket who has served his country passionately both as a player and as a chief selector. During his tenure, we have seen the emergence of many talented young cricketers. I would like to thank Inzamam for the leadership he provided to the group and the cricket knowledge he brought to one of the most critical roles in cricket,” the chairman said in a PCB statement.

Managing director Wasim Khan said: “Inzamam leaves behind a legacy on which Pakistan cricket can thrive. We wish him all the best and I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to Pakistan cricket in the future.

“As part of our commitment to transparency and professionalism, PCB will advertise the chief selector’s role and will carry out a thorough recruitment process. We look forward to appointing Inzamam’s successor in the coming weeks.”

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019