KARACHI: The recently announced Pakistan U-19 squad for the upcoming Asia Cup has raised many questions over the selection policy and criteria adopted by the Junior Selection Committee headed by former fast bowler Saleem Jaffer as not a single player of Karachi - the biggest cricket nursery in the country - has been selected in the squad.

Karachi teams have dominated the board’s Inter-Regional U-13, U-16, U-19 Championships over the last couple of years and there have been times when both the finalist teams have been from Karachi - Karachi Whites and Karachi Blues which shows the amount of cricket talent available in the metropolis.

But despite that, young players from the biggest city of Pakistan have been constantly neglected which is now becoming a serious issue. The knowledgeable critics have pointed out flaws in the criterion adopted for U-19 team’s selection for the Asia Cup and have criticised the Junior Selection Committee for not assessing the Karachi players on merit prior to finalising the squad.

It must be mentioned here that the PCB has been beating the drums about improving the domestic cricket by bringing professionalism and putting an end to nepotism and favouritsm but the recent selection of Pakistan U-19 team for the Asia Cup has exposed the board’s tall claims of the board. It seems that the PCB has decided to appease certain regions by including their players on quota system while the better performers have been left wondering as to what they shall do to get into the national U-19 side.

If this is how the players of Karachi or any other region would be treated, then it will certainly create an adverse impact on the morale of the players and they would be forced to reconsider their profession and some good players might walk give up cricket. How can a city with population of 25 million cannot have a single player in Pakistan squad? And this is not about the population but more about the performances, the trophies that Karachi has won in last six years in age group cricket which makes the Karachi players’ case very strong for selection in the national team.

PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani and Managing Director Wasim Khan should take notice of this issue and must ensure that justice is done to the players of Karachi because some of the outstanding performers who deserved to be in the Pakistan U19 team for upcoming Asia Cup have been omitted by the selectors at the expense of a few who performed below par but still made the team.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019