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Halted: Pakistan’s assembly line of fast bowlers

Published Dec 01, 2012 04:37pm

Junaid Khan is touted among Pakistan's pacers for the future. He is likely to make a return to the national side for Pakistan's tour of India. – File photo by Reuters
Junaid Khan is touted among Pakistan's pacers for the future. He is likely to make a return to the national side for Pakistan's tour of India. – File photo by Reuters

Pakistan’s Chairman of the selection committee Iqbal Qasim has voiced concerns over the dearth of quick bowlers at the first-class level, which, in turn restricts the options for the national side.

In an interview with PakPassion.net, Qasim admitted there is a lack of fast-bowling talent in a country renowned for its quick men.

“We seem to lack the inspirational fast bowlers of yesteryear – like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar – resulting in a failure to find fast-bowling talent, which should be a worry for everyone involved in Pakistan cricket,” Qasim said.

While some players have shown promise at the domestic level, Qasim insisted it is too early to judge their potential for international cricket.

Revisiting the talent-scouting tales of previous decades, the former left-arm spinner explained: “In the past, a local coach would spot a young fast bowler who he thought had the pace and talent to succeed, he would alert one of the domestic coaches and they would, in turn, invite the bowler to a training camp or practice session and if he lived up to the word, he’d make it to a first-class team and his talents would be showcased. Before you knew it, he would be wearing the Pakistan cap.”

Qasim said things were different now. “The local coaches are silent, there are no names being mentioned on the domestic circuit. There's no exciting news coming though from any regions about any fast bowler who they have on their books. It's a worrying trend.”

The chief selector blamed young players’ preference for shorter versions of the game for this dearth of genuine quicks. “Perhaps youngsters are not putting their efforts into becoming fast bowlers and instead going for the easier option of bowling medium pace and concentrating on line and length,” he said.

A few names that emerged on the international level, through one-off series or Under-19 and ‘A’ team performances have, according to Qasim, shown promise again.

Among these, are left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz, Under-19 World Cup star Anwar Ali and Mohammad Irfan, the tall pacer who played two one-day internationals against England in 2010 but failed to impress.

“Anwar Ali has improved a great deal and has done well with the bat and the ball. Wahab Riaz has shown some glimpses of his best form which is heartening and Mohammad Irfan KRL has bowled with consistency.”

Another young pacer, Junaid Khan, who played at all three levels but was dropped for the World T20 is also back in reckoning for national selection, especially for the upcoming tour of India.

“He has done enough to earn a call-up for the T20 and ODI sides,” Qasim admitted.

On the overall team selection for India, Qasim said the selectors will prefer to stick with experienced players, given the pressure from fans and the media.

Following the limited-overs series in India, Pakistan will travel to South Africa for a full tour, including three Tests, five ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals and the selection chief  believes these tours will show “how far the team has come and what areas they need to improve upon.”

“In India, conditions will be similar to Pakistan, but of course the conditions that our cricketers will encounter in South Africa will be totally different, for example the bouncy pitches and how to handle them is something that our cricketers and the coaching staff will look at.”

For the South Africa tour, Qasim hinted at the inclusion of a few uncapped players but opted not to name any probables.

One player likely to make a comeback in the Test team is Mohammad Yousuf, who is currently playing the national T20 tournament in a bid to impress the selectors. Qasim, however, refused to give any assurance to the world-record holding batsman.

“We’ll have to see what his fitness levels are like and how he performs in the T20 tournament. He has a chance to impress the selectors, if he proves that he can still score runs and do well in all departments then he has every chance to play for Pakistan again.”